Symptoms of professional burnout syndrome. How to spot them in your employee?

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Professional burnout causes an employee to neglect their responsibilities and stunts their growth. How to recognize professional burnout in your subordinate? How can you help him?

What is professional burnout?

Although the professional burnout syndrome was defined half a century ago, there is still no unambiguous description of this phenomenon. It is assumed that professional burnout is a state in which work – previously performed with satisfaction – no longer brings pleasure and aversion to it appears. Work becomes tiring.

Main symptoms of professional burnout

Christina Maslach in her multidimensional conception distinguishes between three components of professional burnout:

  • emotional exhaustion, i.e. lack of energy, emptiness, powerlessness in the face of demands;
  • dehumanization in dealing with coworkers;
  • lowering of self-esteem as an employee.

Professional burnout affects employees regardless of career level. Wherever an employee is exposed to a large amount of stressful stimuli, job burnout can occur.

Burnout affects not only the professional sphere of the employee, but also the family and social sphere.

Kobieta leżąca na kanapie w szarym ubraniu
(Photo: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images)

How to recognize the symptoms of professional burnout in an employee?

Stress and job burnout are interrelated. Prolonged tension at work and the inability to cope with problems have very serious health consequences.

Stages of job burnout

The first stage of job burnout is physical and mental exhaustion. The employee looks very tired. He or she develops concentration problems and begins to suffer from chronic fatigue. You may notice that he no longer performs his duties as well as before, which compounds his stress and negative emotions.

The second stage of burnout is a negative attitude towards the supervisor, co-workers and clients. Such an employee has lost confidence in his own abilities and no longer feels positive emotions about his work. The resentment translates to the entire team.

Pracowniczka z bólem głowy
(Photo: Jamie Grill / Getty Images)

In the third stage, the employee increasingly takes sick leave. Very often, job burnout becomes an illness symptom.

In the last stage, the employee becomes withdrawn, indifferent to work and co-workers. He does not take up any challenges, seems resigned, not confident in his own strengths. He thinks that he is not suitable for his work, so he stops trying and correcting his own mistakes.

How can you help such an employee?

In case of burnout the statement that prevention is better than cure proves to be true. That is why it is necessary to take care of work of balance, proper motivation of an employee, giving tasks adequate to his/her abilities and taking care of proper relations.

If the first symptoms of professional burnout appear in an employee, it is necessary to react as soon as possible. In such a situation, it is worth having a face-to-face conversation with the employee to check what his/her needs are and whether he/she sees an opportunity to improve the whole situation.

It may also be that the employee does not realize that he or she is suffering from burnout syndrome. In such situations, Christina Maslach’s questionnaire and Massimo Santinello’s Burnout Questionnaire become very useful.

An employee should know that he or she is not alone with their problems. In many cases it is a good idea to send the person on leave. An employer may also suggest seeing a specialist if the burnout syndrome is at an advanced level

Main article photo: Photo by Jamie Grill / Getty Images

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