Job burnout

Job burnout is a state of fatigue or frustration that can occur in anyone who performs a specific job for some time. This condition is characterised by emotional exhaustion and a reduced sense of one's own professional achievements. Emotional exhaustion is a feeling of emotional load, emotional void, fatigue, and lack of energy that are associated with the work performed. Job burnout also has a tendency to negatively affect one's professional achievements, own performance and skills.

There are many different professions who experience burnout, including teachers, nurses, social workers, policemen, lawyers, telecommuters, engineers, IT specialists and accountants.

Both individual and environmental factors are responsible for the development of job burnout.

What are the personal risks of burnout?  Researchers are expanding this list every year. These risks are:

  • Perfectionism, high (idealistic) expectations of oneself
  • Strong need for recognition (the will to do a lot for others, in order to be appreciated)
  • Putting other people's needs first while not noticing their own
  • Sense of being irreplaceable (reluctance to delegate tasks to others)
  • A tendency to work intensively ("hard"), until overload and exhaustion
  • Treating work as the main activity in life

What features of the work environment can lead to job burnout?

  • High/conflicting job requirements, time pressures
  • Difficulties relating to the combination of a managerial position and lack of relevant support
  • Unsupportive, stressful atmosphere at work
  • No opportunity to make decisions and influence work organisation
  • Limited opportunity to express opinions
  • Lack of communication (between employees as well as between employers and employees)
  • Administrative restrictions
  • Pressure from superiors
  • Bad organisation of work
  • Lack of resources (human, financial)
  • Lack of prospects for promotion
  • Ambiguity of the professional role
  • Lack of positive feedback
  • Lack of teamwork
  • Lack of social support

Professional burnout undoubtedly has negative effects in every area of life. It adversely affects both physical and mental health. The negative effects of job burnout can lead to serious mental disorders such as: depression, anxiety disorders and even addictions. 

If you're wondering if you are experiencing job burnout, you should answer the following questions: 

  • Do you feel dissatisfied with your work? 
  • Do you feel constant fatigue due to being overworked?
  • Do you avoid contact with your superiors and colleagues?
  • Do you have low self-esteem? 
  • Do you stop appreciating your professional achievements?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping (you can't easily fall asleep and often think about work)?
  • Do you feel anxiety, anger, a sense of emptiness or do you have physical symptoms when thinking about work (muscle tension, stomach-ache, nausea, diarrhoea)?

If you answer yes, to most of the answers, it is worth talking to your work/management/line manager in the first instance. If you do not feel comfortable with that, perhaps talk to an external expert (psychologist, doctor, coach) for help and advice.

If you feel that you are suffering from job burnout, go to the website:

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The EMPOWER project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No. 848180