Does a 'burnout-proof workplace' exist?

Our lives are often full of challenges and stress is...

Our lives are often full of challenges and stress is part of our everyday lives. In the daily rat race, it is easy to lose touch with ourselves and our needs.

It is no coincidence that burnout is becoming increasingly common, which can have a serious impact on our health and wellbeing. But what does this mean exactly, what can we do ourselves to prevent it and how can workplaces help in prevention?

Burnout has been known for nearly 50 years (the definition was first written in 1974), but it was not until 2019 that it was included in the official diagnostic manual of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO considers burnout primarily a problem related to occupation and workplace (although we know it can occur in other areas of life) and primarily seeks to strengthen the role of companies in preventing burnout.

It's not a personal problem.

Burnout is a state caused by long-term stress and overload. In this state, the employee feels tired, demotivated and exhausted, which can have serious effects on mental and physical health as well as on work performance.

The problem is global, as it is related to absenteeism due to workplace stress, which not only has serious financial implications, but also reduces performance and productivity.

The symptoms of burnout can be varied, including fatigue, lack of motivation, irritability, sleep disturbances, emotional exhaustion and decreased performance. If we observe these signs in ourselves or others, it is important not to ignore them and to take steps to treat and prevent them. The workplace environment plays a very important role in this, as it is also the responsibility of the leaders to create an environment in which work-life balance can be maintained in the long run.

Stress management programs, support for work-life balance, and establishment of workplace support systems can all help to prevent burnout.

The following reasons may be behind a burnout related to the workplace:

  • Too much work to do within the given time, unclear roles and responsibilities, lack of cooperation and clear communication from the leaders, constant and unjustified time pressure, unpleasant working environment and treatment.

The Role of the Workplace in Prevention

When can we consider a workplace 'burnout-proof'? Although this is difficult to define, it mostly means a work environment and organizational culture that promotes the health, well-being and long-term performance of employees.

How can this be achieved? The first step would be for companies to map out the factors that make employees satisfied with their workplace. Of course, this can vary from person to person, but it is worth mentioning Frederick Herzberg's theory, which states that the factors influencing job satisfaction can be divided into two major groups.

  • Motivating factors can be considered personal development opportunities, results, and recognition - their presence contributes greatly to our satisfaction and prevention of burnout. Hygienic factors are essentially our working conditions: stability, predictability, our salary, the work atmosphere and relationships. These are basic expectations that, in themselves, do not cause satisfaction, but their absence can lead to continuous stress, anxiety and burnout.

What can leaders do?

Inspiring, empathetic, and supportive leaders are key to preventing burnout. They can help employees set realistic goals, maintain a reasonable workload, and ensure that resources are available to complete tasks.

Today there are many different ways and tools for workplaces and managers to take steps to prevent burnout. There are already existing and proven steps that work for most companies - such as lectures on mental health, workplace support programs. Stress management programs, trainings and resources provided by employers (such as counseling, coaching) can help employees learn to effectively manage stress and cope better with workplace pressure.

In addition, it is very important to have an open and supportive environment where employees can feel that they can share their worries, challenges, or problems with each other and their leaders. In such an environment, it is easier to ask for help, communicate openly and find a solution that works for both sides.