Burnout is a state characterised by emotional, bodily, and mental exhaustion as a result of constant and excessive stress and being unable to meet constant expectations.. This term is usually used in the context of the workplace, and is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and acknowledged by the WHO (2019) as an occupational phenomenon, or a syndrome “conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Burnout develops over time. Although it doesn’t happen overnight, it might sneak up on someone. It happens when one is overburdened, emotionally fatigued by their role for a long time, leading to loss of enthusiasm and drive that initially motivated a person to accept a particular role. People become less productive and less energetic because of burnout, which also makes them feel more hopeless, cynical, and resentful. One can eventually feel as if they have nothing more to contribute.
The signs and symptoms start out mild but gradually get worse over time. Consider the early warning signs as signs that a problem needs to be addressed. Some symptoms of burnout are:
– A constant sense of exhaustion and drain.
– Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
– Constant feelings of overwhelm, failure and self-doubt
– Lack of motivation
– Reduced sense of accomplishment and contentment
– A sense of isolation
– Increased time for task completion, impact to creativity, productivity
Chronic stress can lead to burnout. People who are burned out frequently don’t see any possibility of improvement in their situations.
Burnout has a detrimental impact on all aspects of life, including one’s personal relationships, job, and social life. Burnout doesn’t ‘fade with time’, rather requires action to address the root causes contributing to chronic stress and burnout. The call to leaders and decision makers is to build better systems to identify and act upon signs of chronic stress and burnout in employees.