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Occupational Burnout Part Two: Recognising the Signs

2 minute read

Any person can experience burnout at any stage of their career regardless of age, gender or occupation. While some people may be more prone to experiencing it, workplace stressors remain the primary driving factor behind burnout.

In 2020, an estimated 77% of Australians experienced burnout; one of the highest rates of any country. Although numbers are rapidly changing, 2021 research found more than 50% of Americans had experienced burnout. This is nearly a 10% increase from the previous year with COVID-19 clearly having an impact.

Burnout can impact work productivity, creativity and motivation, which can lead to an unsteady career. The effects of burnout can also flow into personal life, affecting mental and physical well-being.

A survey by Gallup, an American consulting company, found that the top five reasons for burnout are:

  1. Unfair treatment at work
  2. Unmanageable workload
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from manager
  5. Unreasonable time pressure

Other reasons can include a negative or unsafe work culture, lack of recognition and having monotonous and low-stimulation work. As the reasons and symptoms vary from person to person, being able to recognise signs of burnout is crucial.

There are generally three dimensions of burnout:

  1. Exhaustion

You feel over-extended or that you’ve been having many ‘bad days’ at work. You may have trouble sleeping or finding the energy to go into work, you’re feeling mentally and physically exhausted.

  1. Depersonalisation

Depersonalisation is having a mental detachment to work which can result in losing interest in your job. A negative attribution to work, a strong urge to continuously not go to work or not perform efficiently can be signs of burnout.

  1. Inefficacy

The third dimension is feeling a lack of professional achievement and personal fulfilment from the job. You may feel as though your efforts are not being recognised or that you are not achieving what you could. This can impact your personal and professional life.

Burnout must not be underestimated.

The effects of burnout can be far-reaching and long lasting with research showing that recovery gets more difficult the later in your career you experience it.

For drivers who experience burnout, the likelihood of being involved in vehicle collisions increases – this is only one example where the impact of burnout can be fatal (read about driver burnout HERE). For professional drivers, the link between the risk of serious injury, fatality and burnout cannot be overlooked.

Look out for yourself, your co-workers or your employees by recognising signs of burnout.

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