Understanding Burn Out and its Risks

Understanding Burn Out and its Risks


1. Definition and manifestations of Burn Out

Burn Out ("to burn out, to burn up one's reserves") or burnout syndrome is a set of reactions resulting from situations of chronic professional stress in which the commitment dimension is predominant.

It is characterised by 3 criteria (Maslach's) that are essential to describe it with certainty.

Professional exhaustion :

  • Deep and chronic fatigue
  • Total lack of energy for work
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions (Intrusive thoughts).
  • Feeling drained of emotional resources. Disillusionment (A slump of the ideal).
  • Lack of motivation

Disengagement (depersonalisation) :

  • Dehumanisation of the relationship with the other (Insensitivity to the surrounding world).
  • Negative vision of others and work (cynicism)

Personal frustration :

  • Feeling of not achieving one's goals
  • Feeling of incompetence, of being unable to meet the expectations of those around you
  • Self-esteem and self-confidence

2. Risk factors and sectors of activity

  • It is linked to the professional context and is the consequence of chronic professional stress. Burnout is limited to the professional sphere.
  • Differences with :
  • o Depression: exhaustion generalised to the entire existence. The origin is linked to various contexts (family...)

    o Chronic fatigue: much greater tiredness

  • It concerns all sectors of life. It is a neurological disease according to the World Health Organization.
  • The most affected sectors of activity are those for which :
  • o The dimension of commitment predominates (care professions, aid, teaching, armies...)

    o The relationship with the other, at the centre of the activity, is vital for the beneficiaries of this relationship (users, patients, clients...)

    o Personal and emotional investment is predominant.

  • Risk factors: those of chronic stress, and more specifically
  • o Work overload, time pressure

    o Low control over work

    o Low rewards

    o Lack of fairness

    o Value conflicts, conflicting demands

    o Lack of clarity in objectives, means

3. Burn Out / Bore Out:

Bore Out is professional exhaustion caused by boredom, leading to the absence of professional satisfaction.

  • Risk factors: lack of work, being put on the back burner for economic and human reasons.
  • The sector of activity: especially in the tertiary sector.