Article by Primrose Stuart
The world of work is continually changing partly as a result of changing environments marked with endless competition, consumer and skills demand, economic and political issues, ever changing culture and technology.
All these factors are putting pressure on how organisations and employees are expected to perform more than before. As a result, some employees in more and more organisations are suffering from stress and burnout which effectively contributes to decreased productivity.
The work environment will either make people enjoy work or result to dissatisfaction; hence, staff motivation and other forms of relieving stress and burnout have become a critical component in ensuring that employees are satisfied at work and have lower levels of stress. Job satisfaction ensures that employees perform well in the different tasks given to them, whilst lack of satisfaction can lead to stress, resulting in lower work efforts from the employees and alternatively lower production from the overall company.
What is Burnout
Burnout is defined as work overload, patterns of over-commitment, and total exhaustion of physical and mental resources as a result of excessive striving to reach unrealistic work related goals.
What is Stress
Stress is defined as the degree to which an individual feels overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable.
Causes of Burnout
The current work environment is rich in social, psychological and political drivers that cause fatigue and eventually lead to burnout. These include:
- Extended working hours.
- A feeling of lack of control.
- Conflicting values between the organisation and the employee.
- When an organisation moves from project to project and fails to acknowledge the work well done. This will lead to low morale on the part of the employees.
- Inadequate rewards in terms of money, recognition, or job satisfaction.
- Frequent conflict in the workplace.
- Lack of leadership continuity and on-going change initiatives: When leadership keeps changing, subordinates tend to lose hope that any change will ever make a difference.
Symptoms and effects of burnout
If not recognized and managed burnout can increase and negatively affect all aspects of a person’s functioning. This includes emotional, physical, work-related, identity and relationship problems. This may further lead to emotional fatigue, negativity about oneself, frustration, anger, decrease in job enthusiasm, depression, absenteeism, uselessness and perceiving work as a burden.
Dealing with job burnout
There are a variety of ways that both individuals and organisations can deal with burnout. In general, resting proves to be very effective. This may include a temporary reduction of working hours, slowly rebuilding the endurance of the individual.
If you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout in yourself, remember that it will only get worse if you leave it alone. But if you take steps to get your life back into balance, you can prevent burnout from becoming a full-blown breakdown.
Burnout prevention tips
- Be proactive and set short term and long term .
- Adopt healthy eating, exercising.
- Complete a periodic assessment and realignment of goals, skills, and work passions
- Set boundaries.
- Practice healthy sleeping habits.
- Take a daily break from technology.
- Be creative.
- Learn how to manage stress.
- Collaboration and team work in the workplace pays off.
Organisations and individuals should attempt to adopt some burnout coping strategies. Below are some of the more common strategies for dealing with burnout.
- Stress management training.
- Stress interventions.
- Problem-based coping.
- Social support.
- Employee assistance programs.
Individuals and management should plan before hand preventative measures to avoid the long term consequences of burn-out on productivity and employee turnover.