Burnout syndrome definition with causes and characteristics and identification

Burnout syndrome

Burnout syndrome is a psychological or emotional condition linked to excess and working conditions capable of causing the professional to leave or even retire due to disability. In this article we will provide you the definition of Burnout syndrome.

Have you ever heard of burnout syndromeThere are those who do not know the term, but have already lived – who knows are living – or know someone who has gone through this disorder related to a burnout that workers can go through.

From 2022, this mental and professional exhaustion will integrate the official list of diseases or health conditions of the World Health Organization (WHO). Something that may be enough for you to understand why a company needs to pay attention to the matter.

It is worth knowing, burnout syndrome is not only bad for employees because it tends to harm the whole, as it affects productivity and can undermine the organizational climate. Continue reading the post and learn more!

The causes of burnout syndrome

The main cause of burnout syndrome is overwork. Although there is no rule about it, the disorder tends to be more common among professionals who work under constant pressure, such as doctors, police officers, teachers, journalists and others.

It is important to emphasize that stress and emotional exhaustion do not only occur due to the nature of the activity performed. Burnout syndrome can also be associated with poorly managed work and this is not always the worker’s demerit or fault.

Employees who deal with inadequate leadership, for example, may have problems performing their tasks and develop the syndrome. The same goes for those who work in an environment where the organizational climate is poor or where internal communication is poor and nothing seems to flow correctly.

It is, above all, with this in mind that a company cannot disregard that it may have a role in the situation experienced by its employees and, as a consequence, inform itself on ways to avoid the problem or deal with it.

To make it easier, we list below some of the main reasons behind a case of burnout syndrome:

  • excessive charge;
  • constant pressure;
  • excess of responsibility;
  • high workload;
  • long journeys and little rest;
  • conflicting relationship with co-workers;
  • excessive contact with the public;
  • intense traffic and delay to get to work.

Did the last point cause you any doubts? Later on, we’ll see that even factors that seem beyond the company’s reach can be considered in their strategies to avoid employee burnout.

Before that, let’s learn a little more about burnout syndrome to focus on the problem before presenting possible solutions.

What are the characteristics and how to identify burnout

Do you have or have you ever had the feeling that stress at work is common? A challenge anyone has to deal with?

Certainly, the exercise of any professional activity involves situations that can be stressful, including because it is impossible to run away from problems. At times, such as due to a crisis or a period of high demand, the increase in stress can even be natural.

In these situations, as in everyday life, emotional intelligence is very welcome and so is the understanding that stress at work is normal, but only up to a point.

We made this brief reflection just to point out that it can happen that an employee is experiencing burnout syndrome and simply doesn’t know it. Something that would make it impossible for you to seek help, whether within the company or outside it.

Likewise, managers and the Human Resources (HR) department itself , if inattentive to this issue, may find it difficult to notice signs of burnout in their employees and teams.

If the company is not open to relating the work environment and conditions to the mental and emotional situation of its employees, it may fail to understand how work can be related to workers’ burnout.

For all these reasons, the starting point for identifying burnout , even before knowing its characteristics, is to assimilate that this relationship between working conditions and the health of professionals exists.

Signs/identification of burnout syndrome

The idea that stress is part of work without any consideration of an eventual limit can make many – professionals, managers and HR – not understand its signs.

A misconception is that the characteristics of burnout are the same as those of “ordinary” stress, so to speak, or that they reveal other things about the professional, such as their lack of commitment to work. The truth is not quite that.

Among the characteristics of burnout , we can highlight:

  • Frequent tardiness or absence from work – there are certainly other reasons for this to happen. Demotivation, for example, is one of them, but it is up to HR and the leaders involved with each professional to analyze the circumstances of the change in behavior to try to understand its reasons;
  • Difficulty concentrating ― It is difficult, if not impossible, to find someone who can maintain high levels of concentration every day. Personal or professional problems and even achievements can be reasons for a day of distraction, for example.

When the situation becomes constant, however, it is necessary to analyze it more carefully because it can be a sign of burnout syndrome ;

  • Memory lapses ― It is also interesting to observe if the lack of concentration is associated with memory lapses or if these lapses happen even though the employee seems to maintain their normal levels of concentration at work;
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, aggression, depression, irritability, anxiety ― it is important to remember that burnout syndrome is a psychological or emotional condition.

For this reason, the emotions of the professional who is suffering from the disorder can fluctuate a lot or take on specific characteristics;

  • Low self-esteem ― we have already mentioned depression before and it is common for the condition to be associated, at some stage, with lower self-esteem.

However, it is important to emphasize this characteristic because, as we will see later, it can translate into behaviors that more easily reveal that something is not going well with the professional;

  • Isolation ― the act of isolating can be understood as an escape from conflicts or even from interactions that were previously perceived in a positive way, but which have become unpleasant or unimportant due to burnout ;
  • Insomnia, muscle aches, headaches or migraines, and gastrointestinal problems – factors that are associated with intense stress, such as excessive worry that impairs sleep and muscle tension can be signs of burnout .

Gastrointestinal problems also because they can arise both as a result of emotional factors and the lack of self-care that results in an unregulated or low quality diet.

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