Burnout: what is it and how to prevent?

By: Pedro Ferreira - October 10, 2022

Burnout: what is it and how to prevent?

In recent years, rapid technological progression, successive economic crises and very recently the health crisis caused worldwide by the Covid-19 pandemic have affected market configurations and labor relations in most organizations. Many people were exposed to the risk of unemployment and even many of those who remain employed have observed a series of changes in their way of working that, in many cases, is nothing like the previous model of work, demanding more and more flexibility, concentration and greater adaptive skills. At the same time makes workers more exposed to burnout. Hence the importance of knowing what it is, what it involves and how to prevent .

In some cases, it is possible to find a single employee occupying a work position that, until recently, was held by two, three or more people, thus increasing stress levels and pressure to perform their duties correctly and also to keep their job.. This constant stress, excess and unpredictability of the job, as well as too much worry bring health risks that can result in a phenomenon known as burnout.

What is burnout and what is its genesis?

Burnout, also called Professional Exhaustion Syndrome, is an emotional disorder with symptoms of extreme exhaustion, stress and physical exhaustion resulting from stressful work situations, which usually demand a lot of competitiveness or responsibility. The main cause of burnout is, among others, overwork. Therefore, burnout is very common in professionals who work daily under pressure and with constant responsibilities; among them, entrepreneurs, executive employees and people in leadership or subordinate positions who seek to bring (or from whom) results are demanded. Burnout can also happen when a person plans or pursues very difficult work goals or in situations where the person feels, for some reason, that they do not have sufficient abilities to meet them.

Burnout has a considerable impact on the physical and mental health of employees and on productivity in the workplace, so it is necessary to seek professional support soon after the first symptoms appear.

Warning signs of burnout syndrome

In increasingly demanding and high-pressure work environments, employees often become the shock absorbers, suffering from organizational pressure and working longer hours. In these cases, it becomes extremely important to recognize the early warning signs of burnout. Many professionals report cases of extreme exhaustion, irritability, incompleteness and a feeling of devaluation, however, there are many indicators and early manifestations of burnout. Below you can find some of the signs that point to a burnout:

Emotional and mental signs: Tiredness, irritability, distraction, depression, indecision, poor concentration and incompetence.

Physical signs: Muscle aches, body aches, headaches, increased or decreased appetite, weight change and nausea.

Behavioral signs in the workplace : Regularly arriving late; absenteeism; reduced goals, aspirations and commitment; apathy; bad treatment by your peers ; relationship difficulties; obstructive and uncooperative behavior.

Although burnout manifests itself in a unique way for each individual, it can be detected and prevented. Many people end up neglecting the situation without knowing that something more serious could be happening. Concern is needed whenever it is noted that an employee may be in conditions where the work exceeds its limits or is under pressure from various demands. The feeling of insufficient reward, lack of recognition for the work done, lack of support from the manager or the team, the imbalance between effort and reward are other factors that induce burnout.

Strategies to prevent employee burnout

The work environment and the company's interest are essential to keep employees' motivation high. Companies that cannot have a reasonable structure or provide a pleasant working environment end up having a high turnover of employees. It is important for managers to be able to convey an image of security to employees. People need to work as calmly as possible and have more motivation to grow within the business and stay in the same company for more years. To reduce the risk of burnout in the workplace and provide employee well-being, companies need to meet at least four dimensions: job satisfaction; organizational respect ; employer care and work-life integration. .

5 tips to help prevent burnout

Balance the tasks

After turning in a highly demanding job, it can be beneficial to switch to a less complex task. Switching between tasks of varying difficulty daily, weekly, or monthly can be a great way to regain your balance and take a break.

Physical and mental breaks

It's important to take breaks and distract yourself a little from the main focus of work at break times. Taking time off is crucial to employee well-being and will ultimately benefit their performance. Learning to recognize the moments when you are most stressed or anxious can help you take the necessary breaks for recovery, both in body and mind.

Give clear goals to the team

It's important to make sure employees feel heard and noticed by management. This, in a way, contributes to the fact that the work, however challenging it may be, does not become threatening, as it establishes bridges for dialogue, for effective collaboration and for better guidance in pursuit of the desired objectives or goals. Thinking outside the box, not being afraid to fail and looking for new solutions should be encouraged and incentivized to make professionals more and more independent.

Set work limits

There will be times when working outside of normal hours may be necessary, but it is still necessary to agree with typical expectations of a workday. For example, answering work calls or checking emails regularly late at night or on the weekend can increase employees' anxiety and the feeling of never leaving work. You need to set boundaries, work flexibly, and provide more free time to restore your work-life balance.

Increase employee engagement

Improving the engagement that the team feels with their workplace and co-workers can increase job satisfaction and reduce stress. The community is essential for a professional to feel supported and integrated into the organization. While people cannot choose who they work with, time and energy can be invested in strengthening the bonds they share with colleagues. Positive group morale can make the team more robust and reduce the likelihood of burnout. In addition, a sense of fairness at work can help employees feel valued and recognized for the contributions they make.

As seen, it can be said that burnout is caused by a continuous subjection to stress as a result of work. Identifying early warning signs, having positive leadership, and protective, proactive policies can prevent or reduce burnout. Implementing effective workplace wellness practices is also a recommended path to reducing burnout risks. To be truly effective, they must be at the organizational level, reducing work stress, promoting employee well-being and increasing employee engagement. A balanced work culture promotes a positive work environment and a growth mindset.


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