What Is Job Burnout?

Job burnout is a state of emotional and mental exhaustion caused by specific circumstances related to one’s work life, causing individuals to feel overwhelmed with stress, emotionally drained and often resulting in physical symptoms, too.

Burnout: the Signs, Causes and Risks

Being able to spot the signs of burnout in the workplace as early as possible is vital, preventing burnout from taking over employees’ lives.  

There are often different stages of burnout, whereby individuals start by only experiencing issues intermittently, with these becoming more frequent and intense as time goes by. These include:

  • Dreading going to work or performing your daily tasks 

  • Feeling removed from your job or environment  

  • Failing to feel a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment 

  • Lacking patience and feeling irritable  

  • Finding it hard to focus 

  • Chronic fatigue or a lack of energy 

  • Frequent illnesses due to a weakened immune system 

  • Sleep disturbances  

  • Physical discomfort such as headaches and muscle tension 

Individual presenting to a group.

The causes of burnout are varied, typically involving issues at work such as:

  • Excessive workload or hours or unrealistic deadlines 

  • Issues with management or lack of autonomy 

  • Inadequate recognition or compensation 

  • Conflict with colleagues 

  • Lack of support and work benefits  

  • Lack of direction 

  • Ethical conflicts 

  • Career stagnation or monotony

If left unaddressed, burnout could have serious consequences on employees’ lives. From physical health risks to mental health risks and decreased quality of life, the risks are varied, including: 

  • Chronic fatigue 

  • Cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues 

  • Sleep disorders 

  • Depression 

  • Anxiety disorders 

  • Emotional exhaustion 

  • Strained relationships, both at work and in one’s personal life 

  • Substance abuse 

  • Career damage

Red Umbrella - Teaching.

Addressing Burnout in the Workplace

There are several ways individuals can seek help to both stop burnout in its tracks as well as prevent it from severely impacting their lives: 

  • Consult a medical professional about your symptoms to address the emotional and psychological aspects of burnout 

  • Consider looking for employment elsewhere 

  • Discuss your options with your manager 

  • Reduce exposure to specific stressors, if possible 

  • Practice stress management techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and regular exercise to reduce stress 

  • Ensuring work-life balance by establishing clear boundaries

However, it is businesses’ responsibility to ensure work environments are safe and healthy, reducing the likelihood of employees experiencing issues such as burnout. Organisational strategies include:

  • Implementing policies that promote a healthy work environment, such as reasonable workloads, fair compensation and recognition programmes 

  • Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)  

  • Mental health training programmes  

  • Therapy services 

  • Mental health and stress management workshops/webinars 

  • Introducing flexible work arrangements 

  • Enhancing employee autonomy 

  • Team-building activities

Protecting Employees’ Mental Health Should Not Be a Tick-Box Exercise.

If you or someone you know is struggling with burnout or a mental health condition, mental health services and urgent help are available through the NHS and local mental health charities and services: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/

Get In Touch today to find out how Red Umbrella can help support your mental wellbeing in your organisation.