For decades, the concept of burnout has been studied, and although it was not classified as a health disorder, it has been one of the most widely discussed mental health issues across the globe. Even more so in recent years.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially recognised burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis, and is now listed in their handbook of International Classification of Diseases.
So why has it taken so long for the condition to be recognised? Researchers say that there has been too much emphasis placed on investigating the causes, rather than focusing on the diagnostic factors.
We are commonly asked ‘what is the difference between workplace stress and burnout’, and although they are very similar concepts; burnout is a syndrome ensuing from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been effectively managed. It explicitly results from an occupational context (i.e. workplace stressors) and cannot be used to describe experiences in other areas of life (i.e. personal stressors).
Senior Psychologist, Jade Deininger says that the recent news from WHO is a “timely reminder for employers to review their work practices and ensure appropriate health and safety measures are in place to support both the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees”.
Companies need to prepare and be vigilant because it is an increasing reality in modern workplaces. Organisational Psychologist Vritika Chandra advises “to reach out and communicate with your colleagues when you require assistance and support”. She says that a burnout isn’t just a short-term event, and can lead to long-term consequences on an employee’s health and wellbeing if it isn’t managed correctly.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
Three indicators characterising burnout:
- Feelings of energy loss and/or exhaustion;
- Mentally disconnected/distanced from role often with feelings negative of cynicism; and
- Reduced professionalism/efficiency in performing tasks.
Other feelings you may have:
- Feeling exhausted and feel unable to perform basic tasks;
- Losing motivation in many aspects of your life, including both work and social;
- Feeling unable to focus or concentrate on tasks;
- Feeling empty or lacking emotion;
- Losing your passion and drive;
- Experiencing conflict in your relationships with co-workers, friends and family; and
- Withdrawing emotionally from friends and family.
Prevent burnout from common workplace stressors with these strategies:
- Review staffing requirements;
- Review KPIs;
- Provide sufficient training for tasks, time management and prioritisation;
- Provide supportive management to regularly review workload, provide assistance, and help with work delegation;
- Give employees freedom and flexibility to schedule and plan their work tasks in ways that best suit them; and
- Promote work-life balance.
Mundane or repetitive tasks:
- Job rotation or job share to increase task variety; and
- Introduce project work to increase variety.
Fast work pace:
- Ensure adequate rest breaks are provided;
- Allow flexibility in timing of work breaks and work pace; and
- Allow employees to rotate between job tasks with different paces.
How can Recovery Partners Help?
At Recovery Partners, we understand that prevention is better than a cure. Our Psychological Services can be tailored to your business needs and are available nationwide. For more information, you can make enquiries here. Alternatively, our consultants love to have a chat, so go ahead and give us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789).
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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