Professional burnout stages - how to recognize them?


More and more often we meet the concept of professional burnout of employees. It affects people of different ages and positions. Most often it is connected with a sense of senselessness, worse performance of one's own duties and irritability. Occupational burnout can be divided into stages. If you realise it early enough, you can deal with it effectively.

Step 1: Physical and emotional burnout

This stage is often not recognized by employees. It is connected with such typical ailments as fatigue, drowsiness, or headaches and spine pain. A person at this stage of professional burnout is not only tired of the work itself, but also of constant thinking about it. She lacks the energy to act, and her basic duties are performed worse, although the amount of effort put into them is greater than in the past.

Step 2: Doubts and shame

In the second stage of professional burnout, the psychological symptoms deepen. There is a noticeable reduction in the involvement in the proper performance of their duties. The employee has the impression that work overwhelms him and enters his private life, depriving him of the joy of private life as well. Such a person tries to decrease the number of his/her duties - frequently unconsciously. This is particularly noticeable in the case of people who were previously able to stay a few minutes longer to complete the activities they started.

In addition, there is a feeling of senselessness in the activities performed. An additional problem is that the employee notices that his or her work is currently much less efficient and that many duties are neglected by him or her. This leads to a sense of shame as well as a reduction in self-esteem. At this stage, a longer leave may or may not be sufficient. It is often a better idea to change jobs or duties.

Step 3: cynicism

The environment and other workers become a threat at this stage of a worker's burnout. Superiors are no longer authorities, and all attempts to talk to such a person are treated as an attack. Relationships with other employees who start to avoid such a person are severely impaired. In addition, mental symptoms start to have a very strong impact on health. At this stage, increased blood pressure, headaches and insomnia are observed. Excessive prolonged exposure to cynicism can result in serious cardiovascular diseases. This stage usually ends with the employee giving up or being made redundant. This is mainly due to the fact that the changes in the system are so strong that even a longer leave cannot reverse them.

Occupational burnout

Step 4: Submission

This is the last stage of professional burnout, in which the employee feels like being in a trap with no way out. Such a person lives in a constant sense of hopelessness and lack of purpose. He assesses his own life as a failure. The biggest problem is that the sense of value of such an employee is extremely low. He is convinced of his low qualifications and that it will be impossible to find another job. This stage requires the help of a therapist. It is not only necessary to change jobs, but in many cases also the type of work. For such an employee, the professional area itself is associated with the worst moments in life.

Occupational burnout - where it comes from

There are, of course, many reasons for professional burnout. We will try to explain the most important ones, dividing them into those that depend on the employee himself, those that are related to the work itself and those that concern the organization of the company.

Employee's internal factors - here the priority is to set unrealistic goals related to, among others, promotions and increases. Such people often cannot separate professional life from work - often work is their whole life. Too much need for constant appreciation also leads to professional burnout.

Work - you should also pay attention to factors that result from the work itself. It certainly includes too complicated and complex work that involves unclear responsibilities, as well as short- and long-term objectives. On the other hand, professional burnout can lead to too boring and repetitive activities.

Organization of the company - these factors are, of course, related to the previous ones. Here you can list the problems with communication and hierarchy in the company. You do not know who is responding to a specific action. A big problem is the lack of rewards and praise with a great emphasis on efficiency. People who complain about professional burnout also pay attention to constant changes in requirements and unfair treatment by superiors.

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