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Viimati uuendatud: 11.10.2019


Burnout is expressed as a negative attitude towards work, caused by a long-term stress. Burnout influences increasingly more employees in contemporary occupational life: high stress level, intense work and disappearing boundary between work and private life are significant burnout risk factors. The so-called good employees are in danger the most – burnout is much more frequent in committed and competent employees who are of crucial importance to the organization.

According to a wide-spread belief, burnout is a mostly personal problem – a person burns out due to deficiencies in character, behaviour or productivity. Actually, it is a problem of the social environment. The structure and functioning of the workplace shape the communication between employees and the work result. Burning out of an employee indicates something about their working conditions, not about the person himself.

Burnout is characterized by the employee’s:

  • fatigue (both physical or emotional fatigue, or the exhaustion of thinking processes – memory, observation, creativity, etc. are disturbed);
  • cynicism – employee separates themselves from the organization and their occupational role;
  • inefficient work and disappearing motivation.

Burnout does not happen overnight, but develops in long-term extensive occupational stress conditions. Especially threatened are employees whose work includes role conflicts, who get little support and feedback for their work, whose work requires much communication or responsibility.

Burnout stages are as follows:

  • “honeymoon” period – employee works with great devotion and enthusiasm, often works overtime, shows initiative and gives their maximum;
  • if the long-term pressure is not relieved by recognition, colleagues’ support or a more peaceful work period, the employee’s energy level decreases and the employee becomes tired;
  • when chronic symptoms develop, the fatigue is constant, employee is receptive to diseases and shows the classical burnout signs.

Burnout may have the following reasons:

  • Overload. Cutting the company’s costs or other such changes require extra time and energy from people; work is more intense and complicated, leading to exhaustion.
  • Lack of control. Ruleset prohibiting the application of professional skills decreases the person’s independence and involvement in work. If the person does not have control over the important parts of the work, they are unable to solve occurring problems. People lose interest if they cannot participate in decision-making.
  • Insufficient remuneration. People hope that their work is rewarded with money, prestige, career opportunities and a sense of security. Internal remuneration is also important – make a pleasant work in the company of respectable colleagues. If the wages are small, additional bonuses are cut and the positon does not have any career perspective, the joy of work disappears.
  • Community breakdown. One of the results of the aforementioned is the community breakdown at a workplace. Unity is lost due to the loss of work security and concentrating on short-term profit. This crumbles both personal relations and teamwork.
  • Lack of justice. The workplace is perceived as fair if there is trust (e.g. in join projects), openness and respect. An organization in crisis does not worry much about the well-being of employees. Competition and short-term management values favour secrecy. Strictly result-orientation favours manipulating with people.
  • Contradictory values. Lack of vision and chasing the daily profit contradict with the values of the most devoted employees.

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