In a previous post, we have discussed the importance of well-being across all of our social environments. I remember my first year of college back when I was only 17. I was sure I wanted to study psychology and I had a picture of what I wanted to become. Excited about my future I invested 100% of my mind and time in school. Then midterms came along. I would not sleep, I would barely eat, and do not even think about having proper sleep or going out with my friends. The results of that first midterms round? I failed every single one of them.
I was a failure, that is what I would say to myself, but I also was so tired I was thinking about quitting my dream of becoming a psychologist. Then I learned to manage myself more efficiently and successfully prevented feeling like this again. Looking back to those times, now 12 years later, I was experiencing burnout. But what exactly are they and what can we do – now in a professional environment- to prevent it? What can organizations do?
But, What Exactly is Burnout and How do we Spot It?
According to Maslach (1993), Burnout in the workplace is “the psychological syndrome that involves a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job.” Burnout has three dimensions: a) An overwhelming exhaustion. b) Feeling of cynicism and detachment from the job. As well as c) a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Burnout is not a reaction that develops for specific reasons, rather is one developed given ongoing stressors. The reaction tends to be stable over time as long as the stressors are not different, but examining these dimensions is a good start to identify what the stressors are.
Exhaustion is the individual stress component of burnout. It describes the feeling of being emptied and spent off of the emotional and physical resources necessary to deal with our tasks. It is common that burnout team members feel drained and consumed, without the energy to deal with challenges and problems in the workplace.
Cynicism is the interpersonal component of burnout and is about our responses to different aspects of the job. These responses tend to be negative, insensitive, and unsympathetic when our team members are experiencing burnout. This cynicism is usually a defense mechanism at first. But its continuous presence in someone’s experience may lead to the dehumanization of others and the loss of an objective viewpoint. Your team members will likely reduce the amount of work they need to perform as well as develop negative reactions towards colleagues. They tend to devote little energy to their job. They are delivering results by doing the bare minimum, so it is not their best quality.
This is burnout’s component of self-evaluation. Ineffectiveness comprises the feelings of unproductivity and ineptitude in the job. This feeling is worsened by the lack of several things in the workplace. Such as social support, professional growth, and job resources. This leads them to have a negative perception of themselves as well as the work they have turned in lately.
How Burnout Affects Businesses
Burnout happens even to the best of us. Regardless of our capabilities, skills, and resilience, if the circumstances are fertilizing burnout, we are all prone to experiencing it. And the truth is burnout is a significant financial burden for organizations. If your employee is burnout then they will probably not deliver effective results, loss. Burnout employees also somatize their stress, making them often sick. And there are higher chances that burnout employees end up looking for new jobs. So you have to incur hiring and training costs. Burnout team members can affect your company at many levels.
You have to also perform some analysis on your organizational practices. If part of your employees is exhibiting burnout symptoms, then you should change your practices and organizational culture, as soon as possible. Burnout employees make your productivity levels spike down and your employee turnover spike up.
Helping your employees get over burnout is beneficial for your company, but it is also beneficial to them in all their other social circles. But I have always said it, the best way to fix a problem is to prevent it from happening. So how do we prevent burnout in the workplace?
- Encourage and facilitate access to medical and mental health professionals.
- Improve communication with your employees and team members.
- Allow your employees to take Mental Health Days.
- Respect your employees’ time-off and vacations.
- Promote remote workdays.
- Eliminate workplace obstacles.
- Create realistic goals and plans.
- Show support to all of your team members.
- Acknowledge their personal life milestones and events. Such as engagements, birthdays, graduations. Show you care.
- Make time to discuss problems in the world. Talk about the effect of effects such as the pandemic.
- Establish healthy and fair workloads.
- Do not micromanage their tasks.
- Encourage their creativity and ideas.
- Celebrate your teams’ and team members’ accomplishments within your goals and organizations.
- Help them build a balanced work-life dynamic.
- Promote integrations and friendships within and across teams.
- Encourage after-work social events among the team.
- Be empathetic.
- Ask for feedback.