Emotional burnout syndrome (EBS) is a specific type of professional deformation of persons who are forced to communicate closely with people during the performance of their duties.
SEB is a psychological defense mechanism developed by a person in the form of a complete or partial exclusion of emotions in response to selected psycho-traumatic effects. In the literature, as a synonym for the syndrome of emotional burnout, the term “burnout syndrome” is used.
“Burnout syndrome” is typical only for representatives of communicative professions, or, as they are also commonly called, professions of the “person-to-person” type.
Reasons for the development of burnout syndrome
The causes of EBS can be classified into two groups:
- subjective (individual) ones are associated with: personality traits, age (young employees are more at risk of “burnout”), system of life values, beliefs, methods and mechanisms of individual psychological protection, personal attitude to the types of activities performed, relationships with work colleagues , participants in the trial, members of their family. These include a high level of expectation of the results of one’s professional activity, a high level of devotion to moral principles, the problem of refusing a request and saying “no”, a tendency to self-sacrifice, etc. The most prone to “burning out”, and the first to fail, as a rule, are the best employees – those who are most responsible for their work, worry about their work, put their soul into it.
- objective (situational) directly related to official duties, for example: with an increase in professional workload, insufficient understanding of job duties, inadequate social and psychological support, etc.
Stages of burnout syndrome
Prolonged and excessive functional load in the presence of tense interpersonal relationships that have a bright emotional coloring is the main prerequisite for the formation of burnout syndrome. This happens gradually, in three stages.
- Emotional exhaustion is the first stage of professional burnout. It manifests itself in emotional overstrain, a feeling of lack of strength until the end of the working day and the next day, and as a result, in a reduced emotional background. Perception is muffled, the sharpness of feelings is lost, there is a feeling of “emptiness”, indifference to everything around, first of all to professional activity. At this stage, the burnout syndrome can still be considered as a protective mechanism, since it allows a person to dose and economically spend his energy resources.
- Then people with whom you have to work begin to annoy, interest in communication is lost. In the circle of his colleagues, a professional who has begun to “burn out” with disdain or cynicism talks about some of his clients or subordinates. This is typical for the second stage of burnout – depersonalization. It manifests itself in the deformation (depersonalization) of interpersonal relationships. In some cases, negativism increases, cynical attitudes and feelings are activated in everyday contacts both with colleagues and with clients. In other cases, on the contrary, dependence on others increases. Moreover, the “burnout” himself does not understand the reasons for his irritation and begins to look for them within himself, as a rule, at work.
- At the 30% stage – the reduction of personal achievements – there is a sharp drop in self-esteem, which can manifest itself in a tendency to negatively evaluate oneself, one’s professional achievements and successes, to reduce one’s own dignity, in negativity regarding official duties, a decrease in professional motivation, abrogation of responsibility, limiting one’s probabilities and obligations in relation to others. A person out of habit can maintain respectability, but everything and everyone around him becomes indifferent to him. Communication with people causes discomfort. At the later stage, psychosomatic reactions and abuse of psychoactive substances (alcohol, drugs) are possible.
The main symptoms of burnout syndrome
Since burnout builds up gradually, judges often continue to work in the same mode with severe psychological overload until its critical manifestations occur: physical, psychological and behavioral.
Physical manifestations include:
- loss of appetite;
- exacerbation of chronic diseases;
- severe fatigue, fatigue as a result of active professional activity, while the usual rest for a person does not bring him back to normal;
- frequent headaches, constant pressure fluctuations;
- sleep disturbances or complete insomnia, etc.
Psychological symptoms are manifested in:
- increased irritability, feeling tired and depressed;
- disappointment in work and personal life;
- loss of self-esteem and self-confidence;
- decreased interest in work;
- a feeling of inadequacy, hopelessness, meaninglessness of what is happening and inexplicable guilt;
- frequent mood swings;
- unmotivated worry about the future;
- personal detachment, that is, significant events occurring within a person cause him a weak emotional response or simply do not excite him;
- feeling of insolvency, hopelessness, loss of faith in tomorrow, etc.
Behavioral problems may include:
- emotional “explosions”, unmotivated mood swings;
- neglect of professional and family responsibilities;
- decrease in self-criticism;
- negative attitude towards the work performed, lack of initiative, motivation;
- a drop in labor productivity;
- limiting communication with colleagues, friends and acquaintances;
- difficulties in communicating with others, the appearance of a negative attitude towards customers;
- loss of sense of humor, negative attitude towards oneself;
- abuse of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, etc.
The presence of one or more of these signs in a person indicates the process of “burnout” that has begun.
Prevention of burnout syndrome
Prevention of SEV must be comprehensive and be carried out in different directions.
The leader can help his subordinate in this difficult task – the fight against emotional burnout. For example:
- It is extremely clear to explain to each employee his place in the structure, functions, rights and duties.
- Track the peculiarities of relations between employees and create a favorable psychological climate in the team. Benevolent business relations between colleagues are preferable to strict observance of subordination.
- Discuss with employees the prospects for their professional growth with a clear designation of promotion criteria. Thus, one of the main manifestations of CMEA is prevented – the feeling of the meaninglessness of work.
- Develop traditions in everything: business attire, weekly meetings with colleagues, joint collective recreation, etc.
- Structuring work and organizing workplaces so that the matter becomes significant for the performer.
- Discuss with the employee the likelihood of moving to an adjacent professional area so that his previous knowledge, skills and abilities find a new application.
- To create prospects for a horizontal career in the organization (for example, to change court secretaries for judges, taking into account the peculiarities of psychological compatibility).
- Focus not on what the employee already knows, is able to, has mastered, but on what is the direction of growth for him, so that the profession is perceived as a development tool.
- To assist newly appointed judges and young professionals in adapting to their activities.
- Optimize the professional workload, change (if necessary) the duty schedule, introduce additional forms of moral and material incentives for employees, etc.
- Of particular importance are giving employees the opportunity to make suggestions in the workflow and creating conditions for their implementation.
- At the same time, it is no less important for a leader to engage in self-education and self-education, prevention of the development of CMEA in oneself, expressed, for example, in intolerance for an opinion that differs from one’s own, rudeness in communicating with employees, the desire to exceed one’s authority, etc. The team management style should be flexible and adequate.