What is Burnout?

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With Google searches for burnout reaching an all-time high (1), it's clear that this unwelcome phenomenon will play a key role in the next phase of the Great Resignation, now more commonly called the Great Reshuffle. So, naturally, there are a couple of questions that are at the top of managers' and leaders' minds; how can I avoid burnout? how can I help my people avoid burnout? and how do I react to burnout when it strikes? To answer them, we first need to define burnout, and provide guidelines to help ourselves, and our teams, identify it, so that's exactly what we're doing today.

What is Burnout?

In its simplest terms, burnout a form of exhaustion caused by feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work. The World Health Organisation's definition calls burnout, “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed (2)." They also provide three characteristics to help us identify burnout in ourselves and others. They are;

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job
  • reduced professional efficacy

How do I Know if I'm Experiencing Burnout?

The Mayo Clinic offers a list of questions to help people identify signs of burnout (3). If you answer yes to any of the below, they advise, you might be experiencing burnout.

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

Possible causes of burnout include three common complaints that Frankli can help teams with; unclear expectations at work, poor work-life balance and culture. Learn more.

1. Quartz at Work, Searches for “burnout” are at an all-time high. 2. World Health Organisation, Burn-out an "occupational phenomenon": International Classification of Diseases. 3. Mayo Clinic, Job burnout: How to spot it and take action.

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