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Manpower Bulgaria

"Burnout" in the workplace: How to fight this new pandemic?

Almost all of us have experienced the feeling and effects of "burnout" at some point in our lives. Workload and stress at work, lack of direction and clear vision, and poor communication with colleagues and employers are common causes of the "burnout" syndrome.

Burning out can negatively affect many, and sometimes all, aspects of your life – mood, motivation, results, communication, and more. Downplaying this condition and not understanding the reasons for its occurrence can lead to serious consequences.

Burning out in the workplace is a real and current problem that is particularly common among younger generations (Millennials and Gen Z), but it can affect any of us. In the last two years, in view of the global pandemic, this problem has become even more widespread. However, what are the main causes of burnout in the workplace and how to avoid or overcome it, we will tell you in the following lines.

Why does burnout happen?

The reasons may vary and be of every kind. 

When we understand why we feel this way and what hides at the root of the problem, we can easily neutralize the effect of burnout and start feeling well again, and be more productive.

Some of the main reasons for burnout are:

  • Chaotic and unorganized workplace
  • Too hectic everyday life, full of constant stress
  • Inability to control our own program or other aspects of work
  • Lack of or difficulty in communication with colleagues and managers
  • Strong disbalance between work and personal life - this can mean too much workload instead of vacation and time with the family, as well as the overall lack of social contact and support
  • Inability to set boundaries

What are the effects of burnout?

Most of the consequences of burnout can be divided into two kinds: short-term and long-term

  • Short-term effects – One of the first symptoms is the loss of interest, desire, and enthusiasm to finish everyday tasks and difficulty with focusing on different projects, in the end, it lowers the whole effectiveness of the job and its results.

The condition of burnout can make you feel tired and without any energy. In some cases, even the symptoms can turn to be physical like headache or stomachache, and problems with blood pressure. 

  • Long-term effects – The longer you are kept in a state of burnout, the more severe the effects can become, both emotionally and physically. A Gallup 2022 study found that 76% of workers were in a state of burnout at some point. The majority of respondents said they would take sick leave when they felt this way, and 23% would visit the emergency room. The study also shows that people who frequently experience burnout at work are 2.6 times more likely to look for a new job.

It is extremely important not to ignore the feeling of burnout and expect it to go away on its own. It is better to take care of detecting and eliminating the problem so that there are no long-term consequences for you and your career.

How to avoid and overcome burnout? 

We have prepared a list of some simple steps that you can follow to improve your condition and avoid the development of burnout syndrome.

  • Find the cause of the problem - Everyone is different and the causes and origins of overheating can be radically different. Is the workplace overloaded? Is your work environment chaotic? Is there a serious work-life imbalance? Regardless of the nature of the problem and what's causing it, the most important first step to overcoming it is finding it.
  • Ask for help and speak up – In the long run, hiding the fact that you're feeling overly stressed or overwhelmed will only play a bad joke on yourself. Seeking advice and support from loved ones, colleagues, and even your employer can help you build a more successful strategy for delegating and managing your responsibilities in a way that doesn't lead to an excessive workload.
  • Set realistic boundaries and expectations for your capabilities and workload – One of the most effective ways to overcome and avoid burnout is to set realistic expectations. You can do this by managing your time properly, as well as by creating a structured action plan broken down into smaller parts and goals. Here you can find the steps you can follow to create a personal development plan that will help you create realistic goals and deadlines and give you clarity on how to successfully follow them. Last but not least, share with your employer if you feel that their expectations of you and your work are unrealistic.
  • Be proactive and make the most of your free time – To overcome burnout and improve your physical and mental health, you must not be afraid to change different aspects of your life. Introducing some sport into your routine (running, gym, yoga, exercise at home) would help to shake off the busy daily life and clear the mind. Meditation walks in nature, or starting a new hobby or activity that is interesting to you can also be your partner in the fight against overheating.

What can employers do?

Companies play an important role in the well-being of their employees and it should be among their top priorities. Providing additional benefits such as free sports passes could motivate employees to take time for self-care and "letting off steam." The organization of various pieces of training and team building would teach them new methods and approaches to dealing with work and would be a bridge to easier and more transparent communication in teams and between different levels of the hierarchy.

Caring for the quality work-life balance of employees has always been of utmost importance, but recently it has also become the main focus of HR trends. Many employers offer flexibility in working hours, working from home or remotely, and one of the most innovative solutions that are gaining popularity is the introduction of a 4-day working week. We at Manpower Bulgaria have decided to embark on this mode of work. We launched the initiative with a 4-month trial period, during which we also prepared an internal survey on employee attitudes and opinions. The results speak for themselves - an average rating of 5.2 (out of a total of 6) our people give to their enthusiasm for work. More than 75% of employees are satisfied or very satisfied with the changes that have taken place, and 89% note that their work-life balance has improved with the introduction of the new work regime. There are also positive changes in employee retention – 91% of people in our organization see themselves as part of the company in the future, including 41% who in the past considered possibly leaving their job in search of other opportunities. 75% of employees in the company are much more satisfied with their work compared to last year.

The so-called "burnout" is a serious problem of today's working generation and the generation that is just entering the labor market. That is why it is important for companies to build and implement effective policies and take timely measures to overcome this problem for a healthier, more satisfied, more engaged, and more loyal workforce.