According to the World Health Organisation, burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
Although burn-out has not been classified as a medical condition, if left untreated, it can affect your physical and emotional health. Burn-out can lead to a complete state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. Employers can expect the following effects on the workplace:
- Increased absenteeism
- Lack of engagement
- Increased turnover
- Lack of productivity
The causes of burn-out can stem from a range of difference factors (both related to the workplace or private life). When looking at the workplace, some of the contributing factors causing burn-out can be due to an excessive workload, a lack of resources, conflicting values, job insecurity, lack of communication and perceived unfairness.
To combat the impact of the effects of burn-out on the company, companies can help by creating a culture of transparency around wellbeing. Employers are encouraged to try the following:
- Ensure psychological safety
- Encourage self-awareness amongst employees.
- Conduct regular check-ins with your employees.
- Ask questions and be sure to allow for diverse voices to speak up.
- Be appreciative of your employees.
- Be transparent when relevant.
- Encourage regular breaks
- Employers must encourage their employees to take breaks every couple of hours. Taking short walks, doing some stretches or anything that gets you up and away from your desk will be good to get your mind off work for a moment.
- Communicate with your team members
- Managers should conduct weekly “check-ins” and create channels to communicate effectively. Frequent one-to-one sessions allow employees to share feedback and ideas and can encourage two-way communication.
- Offer recognition
- By recognising your employee’s hard work, you help to lower employee stress and increase the feeling of connection and belonging in the company.
Employers are encouraged to try and implement the above routines in the workplace, as severe cases of burn-out may be very difficult to recover from.
Mild symptoms of burnout may be treated by turning to others, resting, focusing on exercise and diet, being mindful and to prioritise your work. As always, laughter is the best medicine, some experts believe that this strategy can be applied as a coping strategy for burn-out. For the treatment of more severe burnout symptoms, it’s advisable that you seek professional help.