Recognising the signs of burnout

Blog Colleague Burnout

We’re all familiar with the term ‘burnout’, a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It’s a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. In many cases, burnout is often related to work, however, burnout is not exclusive to work and can just as easily be caused by your personal life too. happens when you’re overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with life’s incessant demands.

In 2019, ‘burnout’ was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an ‘occupational phenomenon’. The WHO says it is a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and is classified by three factors:

  • 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.

Lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic drastically affected our work-life balance and working environments, and so burnout has been a common theme recently amongst professionals all over the world. The lines between work and home life have become increasingly blurred. Many people are working longer hours, have had increased childcare responsibilities, and for many, our means of social interaction and social environments have changed.

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion and can occur due to long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time. Common signs of burnout:

  • Feeling tired or drained most of the time
  • Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated
  • Feeling detached/alone in the world
  • Having a cynical/negative outlook
  • Self-doubt
  • Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done
  • Feeling overwhelmed

A study by Mental Health UK has shown that 1 in 5 workers felt unable to manage pressure and stress levels at work. Burnout isn’t something which goes away on its own, and so in an effort to combat this feeling, workers should feel heard and supported in the workplace, they should feel they’re able to ask for help. It is crucial that employees and employers set boundaries to promote a healthy work-life balance, and putting a wellbeing policy in place can help to avoid any ambiguity. Employers need to ensure they communicate with their employees about the support that is available for work-related stress, and to educate their employees about recognising and managing stress and deteriorating mental health in themselves before things become too difficult to manage.

Despite its prevalence, burnout is still misunderstood, stigmatized, and costly both to employees’ health and productivity and so if you experience symptoms of stress or burnout, reach out to friends, family or colleagues for support. Sometimes just talking with other people can reduce stress and loved ones may offer advice or help you take action to improve your situation if you want help.

If you need advice on what should be in your wellbeing policy, get in touch with your HR team.

Posted in Blog, HR.