Burnout in the Workplace - What to Do?

camila antonucci

Camila Antonucci

July 13, 2022 • 3 minutes read

The phenomenon of burnouts arises from excessive occupational stress, leading to physical and mental exhaustion. Burnouts can be identified based on many different symptoms. The following details these symptoms and explains measures for the treatment and prevention of burnouts. These measures apply to both employees and employers.

burnout am Arbeitsplatz

Burnouts are understood as a state of physical and mental exhaustion, negatively impacting performance, concentration, and energy. A burnout often correlates directly with occupational stress. In most cases, there is an imbalance between job demands and personal coping abilities, resulting in a persistent feeling of overwhelm and stress.

Classic Burnout Symptoms

Symptoms of burnout vary depending on the individual and can manifest emotionally, psychologically, or mentally. Individuals often experience a phenomenon known as 'depersonalization,' where they become alienated from themselves and their environment. In many cases, they distance themselves from existing relationships and family and neglect hobbies.

At work, the ability to focus diminishes, and the constant sense of strain leads to mistakes. This inevitably results in a lack of reward in the workplace and demotivation in daily activities.

Taking Active Countermeasures

There are, of course, numerous things to counteract burnout. It all starts with allocating enough time for oneself and one's needs. This includes getting enough good quality sleep, which may sound obvious but is unfortunately often neglected. Regular physical activity should also be part of the routine.

By taking care of your physical well-being, you'll have more energy for all the other challenges of daily life. At the same time, regeneration phases are essential. This includes practicing meditation or mindfulness or simply taking the time for a cozy coffee break.

Also helpful when facing a week with more tasks than hours: Plan your weekdays, assign specific tasks to time slots, and work through them one by one. This avoids switching costs and multitasking - both significant stress factors and productivity killers.

Beyond all these things that we have direct control over, we often overlook the obvious: communication. This can manifest in actively seeking support from other team members. However, a very effective method is also discussing a clear prioritization of your tasks. This emphasizes both the state of having too many tasks and responsibilities and the commitment to addressing each task in order, aligning with overarching company goals.

Sick Leave – Rights and Obligations for Employees

If an employee is sick and may not be able to work, depending on the extent of the illness, a sick note must be sent to the employer. Furthermore, the employee is obliged to see a doctor after three days at the latest. Certain requirements must be observed, but the employee continues to receive his wages up to a certain point in time.


What Companies Can Do

The topic of health in the workplace must be continuously questioned and reimagined. Prioritizing the mental health of employees should be a crucial part of company culture.

In this process, it is first essential to raise awareness of risk conditions that lead to less transparency in the workplace, high stress, and reduced performance. A company culture where open discussions about demands can take place is crucial in this regard.

Encourage your team to exchange thoughts about each other's mental well-being. It is important to create a trusting atmosphere within the team, which can be achieved through shared activities outside the office. Alternatively, regular 1:1 meetings provide space for potential conversations. Leaders should also not hesitate to emphasize where the priorities lie (with the health of employees!), especially in challenging times.

Another option for employees can be to give access to external coaches or psychological counselors - of course these visits would be voluntary and anonymous. This, ideally, prevents a crisis situation by providing individuals with an external point of contact where needed.

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