Table of content:

  1. What is work burnout?
  2. What are the causes of job burnout?
  3. What are the main symptoms?
  4. What to do in case of job burnout?
  5. What are the treatments?

“If you feel that your work has become particularly trying, that your emotions swing from one extreme to another and that you feel depressed or anxious when you go home at night, this should be a warning to you.”

Burnout is the syndrome that strikes more and more employees, but also entrepreneurs. So much so that it is considered a syndrome in its own right by occupational medicine.

Job burnout is an acute or chronic depressive state of professional and psychological exhaustion that develops when stress at work is too high. It can lead to depression and, in the most extreme cases, mental illness.

If you are an employer, you should know that burnout is expensive. People affected by Job burnout are not productive and are likely to stop doing important work.

The figures are alarming: according to an AOK report from 2022, there is an average of 5.5 work incapacities per 1000 members due to Job burnout. The number of days of incapacity to work has also increased significantly. It was an average of 13.9 days in 2005 and by 2020 had risen to 131.7 days per 1,000 members, for a total of 4.5 million sick days.

But how do you know if you are burning out? What does it mean to burn out? What are the symptoms of work burnout?

1. What is work burnout?

Work burnout is a state of mental and emotional exhaustion and depression experienced after a prolonged period of stress at work. Burnout is rarely the result of a single factor, but rather the result of the sum of the different elements (hours, stress, responsibilities, etc.) that make up an employee’s working life, and which can actually lead to exhaustion and burnout.

The relationship between work stress and burnout is not always clear. It is often presented as a consequence of difficult working conditions, but it is now recognised that it is rather the perception of stress that will lead to burnout. The most vulnerable people are those who have a strong sense of inferiority to their colleagues and superiors, those who have low self-confidence, those who tend to forget themselves and those who have low self-esteem.

Moreover, burnout is not restricted to people in particular professions or sectors. It can strike a doctor or a teacher as well as an employee of a large company or a public service.

In the end, Job burnout can be seen as a form of professional exhaustion, but one that is both less predictable and more long-lasting.

Nevertheless, the scientific literature mainly concerns employees, and it is known that burnout is more frequent in the public sector than in the private sector. It is also estimated that women are more affected by this phenomenon than men.

Burnout signs

2. What are the causes of job burnout?

Burnout is usually related to a work situation that is stressful and unbearable. In the case of social workers, the causes of burnout are often related to the workload and the impossibility of meeting clients’ expectations.

It is the result of an accumulation of difficult situations, lack of recognition or unsatisfactory professional development. It is a form of professional depression and can affect all sectors, whether public or private. It can also be caused by conflicts at work, discrimination, and poor relations with colleagues.

3.  What are the main 8 symptoms?

Burnout symptoms - woman sitting and working

Burnout can be identified by several criteria.

It is often described as a stress crisis. It is a situation in which the level of stress is such that the individual’s psychological resources are exhausted. He or she can no longer cope with the demands and pressure.

The main signs of burnout are:

  • Exhaustion: you are tired all the time, you do not feel well, you are irritable, and the slightest challenge seems insurmountable.
  • Lack of interest in daily tasks: you simply don’t answer those customers who need it anymore. Their calls annoy you and you feel you can’t do anything about it.
  • A feeling of uselessness: you no longer know why you are working, and you may even think that your work is no good.
  • Low self-esteem: you doubt your ability to perform the tasks for which you are responsible. You start to doubt that you can even manage your own schedule.
  • Loss of pleasure: you are not as happy as you normally are.
  • Lack of confidence: you start to doubt the independence of your decisions.
  • De-motivation: you no longer believe in your abilities and miss out on opportunities.
  • Depression: this is the ultimate phase of burnout. You are if not destroyed, at least deeply weakened by this syndrome.

A person who has the symptoms of Job burnout may no longer feel concerned about their daily tasks. They may be less efficient and productive. He or she may feel physically and psychologically tired, lack imagination and be often angry.

4. What to do in case of job burnout?

When is burnout fatal? It depends on the person. Some people react very quickly to their work and get back into shape. Others need more time to recover. Some people even go so far as to distance themselves from work (retire, stop working, etc.). But it is difficult to say when you are really out of shape to rebuild.

The first step towards recovery is for everyone to admit what is happening to them. Listen to the symptoms you list. You could be in burnout.

If so, you need to take action. You need to communicate with your immediate environment and take a break. Talk about it. Get help. Get professional help right away. It is important to take time for yourself. You can do this by learning not to be available all the time. You have to know how to say no, even to the most important things in your work. It is also advisable to take regular breaks and holidays. You should also get out of your job. It is important to take time out to relax and take your mind off things.

The situation will not get better on its own and neither you nor others will be happy if you let yourself go to work. It is also a matter of health.

5. What are the treatments?

Treatment for burnout can take several forms. The first thing to do is to assess your work situation, sit down with your manager and discuss it. This assessment is important for you, but also for your employer so that he or she can take the necessary measures to improve your work situation. These measures can range from a change of job to psychological help or the introduction of support measures.

In any case, this treatment will not be done alone: it will be essential for you to be accompanied by a trusted person who will help you to take stock of your situation and make the right decisions. Indeed, this is a situation that affects your emotions, so your judgement may be impaired. It is important to have the same person for all stages of treatment: if you need advice in any area, ask the same person.

If you think you are in a Job burnout situation, we advise you to seek help. Perhaps your current job no longer suits you and is the cause of all your stress.

If you feel the need to change your job, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our consultants are here to help you find the job that suits you best.


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