What is burnout

What is burnout and why it might cost you your job

What is burnout? Burnout is one of the top 3 corporate diseases – 76% of respondents have experienced it at least once. Employees experiencing this condition are less productive, are more likely to take sick leave, and are twice as likely to quit.

Olga Zangieva, the author of the project “HR x Therapy”, professional coach of ICF, ex HRD “Citymobil”, experienced burnout twice. The last way out of this state took her several months. Then Olga realized that a person interested in building a successful career is simply obliged to do something in order not to burn out at work. Olga studied the causes and effects of burnout and launched therapy tours for people going through this condition. She told hh.ru about why burnout is so common and how to avoid it.

What is burnout

Since 2019, the professional burnout syndrome has been included in the International Classifier of Diseases, which means that it is officially recognized as a factor affecting health. Therefore, it is ineffective to treat him with calls to “get together” or “just take a break”.

The ICD-11 definition of burnout is: “Burnout is a syndrome recognized as the result of chronic stress in the workplace that has not been successfully overcome.” It is important that burnout occurs exclusively in a professional context, regardless of experience in other areas of life.

Why is it dangerous

According to a Gallup study, employees experiencing burnout are more likely to seek medical attention. 63% of them are more likely to take sick leave. They are half as likely to discuss the achievement of their goals with their manager, 13% less confident in their work, and 2.6 times more likely to part with their current company.

Decreased performance is one of the three key signs of burnout identified in ICD-11.

Burnout can affect working capacity and even cost work . And it can take from several weeks to one and a half years to get out of this state.

An expensive “pleasure” for both a person who is building a career and for an HR specialist who is interested in employee efficiency and reducing the cost of hiring and onboarding personnel.

Who is at risk

Don’t be fooled by the saying “burned out at work,” professional burnout doesn’t always come from overwork. Much more important is whether a person knows how to switch from work to rest, how well he rests, whether he feels satisfaction from what he is doing.

One of the most common causes of burnout is depreciation. When an employee does not see what he is working for, does not understand his own goals and does not feel their connection with global corporate tasks, he has a feeling of uselessness both of his work and of himself.

Injustice at work, deprivation of the promised bonus, lack of elementary communication elements that help employees better understand where they did well and where they made mistakes – all this can also lead to burnout.

An equally common cause of burnout is a toxic leader, bullying and conflicts with colleagues, psychological pressure, corporate mobbing, that is, the deliberate creation of conditions in which it is impossible to work.

Sometimes a manager artificially creates a feeling of constant time pressure – he sets limited deadlines, tough deadlines. Working in such conditions leads to constant stress and, as a result, burnout of employees under its supervision. In this case, the manager should reconsider his management style and more adequately assess the priority of tasks.

Burnout stages

Effective leaders and experienced HR professionals do everything to increase the engagement of their employees, and good employees strive to achieve “flow” – the state in which the current business is most important and interesting.

That said, the first step to burnout is increased engagement. People who are obsessed with their work, ready to do it 24/7, do not control working hours and ignore rest, are in danger of burning out quickly.

If an employee is constantly working in an emergency mode, with difficult introductions – for example, a lack of resources or budget, is forced to go out of his way to achieve the best result, the body experiences stress and begins to respond to it.

The second stage of the burnout process starts – fatigue. In the phase of chronic stress, a person constantly feels a lack of strength, irritability, anxiety, and immunity decreases. At this stage, problems with sleep begin: it is difficult to fall asleep at night, but during the day, on the contrary, drowsiness prevails. Eating behavior may be disturbed: pulls for very sweet, salty, fatty, high-calorie foods.

The third stage is psychophysical exhaustion . Panic attacks, memory impairment, intestinal upset, vomiting may begin.

And finally, the fourth stage comes – emotional burnout. The main signs are: cynicism in relation to everything related to work, apathy, decreased productivity, difficulties in communicating with colleagues, anger. A person may even change outwardly – for example, an always ironed suit and an impeccable hairstyle will be replaced by a sloppy appearance.

How to understand that you burned out

Burnout often goes hand in hand with fatigue, mental and physical exhaustion, and anxiety disorders. How can a person understand that he is burned out, and not just tired or depressed?

  • Contact a therapist, pass the full range of tests. Symptoms that can be mistaken for professional burnout can occur in people with a lack of zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin D.
  • Get diagnostic test by Viktor Boyko orChristina Maslach test .
  • A professional psychologist or psychotherapist can also assess the condition.

Burnout emergency self-help

Here’s what you can do right now if you find yourself in one of four stages of burnout:

  • If you are still far away from vacation, think about how you can add at least an hour of rest to each day. Do not hesitate to tell your boss directly that you feel burnout – a boss who appreciates the employee will give him an extra day off or the opportunity to temporarily switch to a remote work format.
  • Do not try to spend your free time “usefully” – for example, reading special literature. Give yourself the opportunity to sleep, watch your favorite movie, or soak in the tub.
  • Sports help you recover from burnout. You don’t have to rush to the gym and set records on a treadmill, swimming, yoga, outdoor walking, and horseback riding are good options. You can supplement the activity with a bath or a contrast shower.
  • Temporarily disconnect your phone, put your laptop aside, do not check instant messengers and mail, remove social networking applications from your smartphone, or install a limiting program (for example, QualityTime or AntySocial).

Burnout prevention

If right now you do not notice signs of professional burnout in yourself, but are afraid that you may face them in the future, pay attention to the prevention of these conditions.

It’s up to you whether you regularly rest, walk more often, track and protect personal boundaries at work, and use practices to prevent burnout. Here is some of them:

Energy leaks. During the day we are faced with different situations, people, activities. Some of them fill us, others drain us. Make a note on your phone and make a note every time you feel a surge of energy, joy or, on the contrary, irritation, desire to do something else, emptiness, dissatisfaction. Rate people and events – one plus, two plus, one minus, or two minuses to track their impact on your condition.

Try to keep such a diary for a month, and then analyze what spends your energy and what makes up for it. For example, you may find that arguing with a toxic boss can take a lot of energy. Your right is to figure out how to minimize communication or, if this is not possible, how to recover from it.

Mindfulness calendar. Take a scheduling tool that you are familiar with, such as an electronic calendar, schedule things a week or a month in advance, and highlight different types of tasks and activities with colors. Let work be yellow, rest green, communication with relatives and friends pink, and sports blue. See which color is bigger and which one is missing. Make sure to schedule rest and physical activity throughout the week, along with work appointments and calls.

Weak point analysis. Analyze what brings you to burnout. Maybe by nature you are an addicted type who finds it difficult to switch from an interesting job to a quiet rest? Or is the problem that you don’t have a hobby and don’t know how to relax at all? What happens to your personal boundaries – can you say no, can you say no to a colleague asking for help, or a boss who decides to work on the weekend?

The most effective analysis is carried out by a helping specialist – a coach or psychotherapist.

And don’t forget about regular quality rest. Any positive change in life requires resources.