Burnout – how to recognize it?

From 23 to even 35% – that’s how many working Poles may be struggling with burnout. This is the result of chronic stress and a lack of balance between private and professional life. Burnout is a serious problem that significantly affects an employee’s functioning – both in everyday life and at work. How can it be recognized?

Burnout in theory

Burnout, also known as occupational burnout or burnout syndrome, is a psychological condition that occurs in response to prolonged and chronic work-related stress. It is a kind of reaction to an overload of professional duties, a lack of job satisfaction, and difficulties in coping with professional demands.

Individuals affected by burnout may experience feelings of exhaustion, cynicism towards work and others, a decrease in motivation, and a sense of ineffectiveness in performing professional duties. It is a phenomenon that occurs in various professions and at different levels of positions.

Burnout can lead to serious consequences, such as a decrease in professional productivity, health problems (both physical and psychological), difficulties in personal relationships, and a loss of satisfaction with professional and private life.

Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of burnout and take action to address the problem.

Poles are one of the most stressed nations in Europe

Among Europeans, we most often struggle with burnout—this is the conclusion of a study published by the career consulting platform Jobbli. According to the report, the problem affects about 26% of Poles. As many as 72% of surveyed men and 51% of surveyed women believe that their professional duties are not matched to their competencies and do not correspond to what they would actually like to do. The highest percentage of people dissatisfied with their work is among those aged 50-59 (almost 86%), as well as among young people between 22 and 26 years old (62%).

Why is there such a big problem in the Polish labor market? Why do Poles so often experience occupational burnout? Certainly, it has its roots in Polish work culture, which imposes high expectations on employees—both in terms of productivity and availability. Added to this are a lack of openness to dialogue, excessive hierarchies, and a lack of opportunities for professional development. This can lead to an overload of duties, frustration, and a sense of constant pressure, which in turn favors the occurrence of burnout. The problem is exacerbated by job insecurity and low wages.

Furthermore, many people in Poland struggle with difficulties in maintaining a balance between professional and private life. Excessive engagement in work can lead to neglect of family, social, and personal relationships, which can increase the risk of burnout.

A lack of appropriate resources, both material and human, can make employees feel overwhelmed by duties and unable to effectively cope with professional stress. A lack of support from the employer or colleagues can also increase the risk of burnout.

The World Health Organization has included occupational burnout in the latest International Classification of Diseases. This confirms that the problem is serious.


How to recognize occupational burnout?

You wake up in a bad mood. From the morning, you lack energy and motivation. The thought of having to go to work soon fills you with dread and disgust. You force yourself to leave the house. As soon as you cross the threshold of your company, you feel even worse. Tasks that once seemed simple and even enjoyable are now heavy and overwhelming for you. You struggle to make it to the end of the shift. You return home and have no energy to use the rest of your day. You feel extremely tired. Finally, you fall asleep, and the last thought in your head before sleep is that you have to get up for work again tomorrow.

Occupational burnout negatively affects various spheres of life. A person struggling with burnout may experience exceptional fatigue, both physical and mental—even despite rest. Burned-out employees often lose interest in their work and may have difficulty finding the motivation to perform daily duties. Despite their efforts, they feel helpless in the face of professional challenges. They often feel that their efforts do not yield any positive results.

Susan Biali Haas, a doctor dealing with mental health, stress, and resilience, who herself experienced occupational burnout in the past, wrote in Psychology Today about the appearance of irritation towards people from the professional environment—including clients or patients. According to the specialist, occupational burnout is accompanied by a decrease in empathy and compassion towards others, and cynicism arises. The result is worsening relationships with coworkers and clients.

Occupational burnout does not only lower the quality of daily work and take away career satisfaction but also clearly disrupts normal functioning on a daily basis. It can lead to serious health problems. Insomnia, headaches, digestive system issues, and even depression and anxiety states often occur. A person dealing with burnout may avoid social contacts and isolate themselves both at work and outside of it.

3 phases of occupational burnout

According to experts, occupational burnout is divided into 3 phases. First, there is emotional exhaustion. The worker experiences intense work-related stress. This is often accompanied by a sense of both physical and mental exhaustion. Sleep problems, difficulties concentrating, and a decrease in energy and motivation may occur.

This is followed by the phase of depersonalization and cynicism. The worker begins to lose interest in work and other people in their professional environment. Signs of social withdrawal and a sense of indifference to professional duties and coworkers may appear. The worker does not engage in projects or meetings, and their attitude may be full of skepticism and criticism.

The final stage is the resignation phase, which is a complete loss of job satisfaction. The worker questions their competencies and begins to experience negative thoughts. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness may intensify, and the person may even consider leaving the job or changing professions. In extreme cases, symptoms of depression and anxiety may appear.

The phases of occupational burnout do not always follow the same order and are not often distinctly separated. In some cases, they may overlap each other. It’s important to recognize them in time and take appropriate actions that will help deal with the problem and prevent its escalation.

Occupational burnout is no joke

Occupational burnout is a serious problem that can affect any employee, regardless of industry or position. Understanding the phenomenon and being able to recognize its symptoms is extremely important in today’s world, where work often consumes a large part of life.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and taking care of oneself in the workplace should be a priority for everyone. Examining one’s own feelings and reactions and taking conscious action to prevent occupational burnout can significantly improve the quality of life and well-being of both employees and organizations.

burnout is no joke

See also: https://eduexpress.pl/en/how-will-ai-change-the-job-market-are-we-facing-a-revolution/

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