How can I avoid college burnout

Measures for the primary prevention of exhaustion diseases such as burnout in the workforce

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2. Initial situation and problem situation
2.1 Symptoms and course
2.2 Causes of a burnout illness
2.3 Job Demands
2.4 Job Resources
2.5 Conclusion

3. Primary preventive recommendations for action and measures
3.1 Job Demands
3.2 Job Resources

4. Assessment, critical aspects and outlook


1 Introduction

This paper is intended to show which measures can be used in the company to avoid exhaustion diseases ("burnout") in the workforce as a primary preventive measure.

Causes are discussed that are related to the design of the work and its environment-related context. First, the clinical picture is examined and the symptoms and the course are presented. Then the causes are discussed and a breakdown is made into the dependencies on the work environment and the actual work activity. The presentation of the causes focuses on those reasons that have a decisive influence on the motivation and fatigue tendency of employees. The idea is that the support of employees must increase with increasing workload in order to establish primary prevention against burnout. For this purpose, measures to increase the preventive possibilities are presented.

2. Initial situation and problem situation

Mental problems and disorders have become a noticeably common disease in today's professional world, because a growing number of employees suffer from mental problems such as burnout syndrome. A high level of stress and workload is often the reason for the occurrence of these mental disorders.

On the one hand, due to the resulting high costs for the employer and for the health care system, it is important that employees receive preventive care before burnout occurs. On the other hand, with regard to personal health care, it is of great importance for the persons concerned to know the reasons and causes of burnout. This also applies to companies as employers who want to avoid cost burdens and quality losses in work execution due to sick leave.

This term paper describes the measures an organization can use to protect its employees from burnout and the equally undesirable consequences, and focuses on the work environment and work activity. First, the development of burnout is dealt with and then a summary of the causes of the development of burnout syndrome in relation to the work environment and work activity is presented. With regard to the causes, possibilities and measures are shown how the employer can prevent the development of burnout in his own employees through a positive design of the work and its environment.

In the further course of this work it will be discussed how exhaustion of the employees can be reduced to a minimum and at the same time the motivation can be maximized.

Exhaustion and loss of motivation are decisive factors that are responsible for the development of a burnout syndrome.

2.1 Symptoms and course

There is currently no valid definition for burnout syndrome in the medical field. In the ICD-10 system (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems), burnout is a factor, but not a defined disease.

Maslach names emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal performance as the three symptoms of burnout with central importance.[1] Burnout syndrome can be detected in a sick person with the help of these three factors. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) is one of the most well-known questionnaires and supports the detection of an existing burnout.[2]

The development of a burnout syndrome does not happen ad hoc, but is designed as a process that can be repeated. Burisch differentiates between the following phases in the course of the disease:[3]

- Warning symptoms, which are characterized at the beginning by an increased use of working hours for the same work volume as well as the first signs of exhaustion.
- In the second phase, the motivation to work and social contacts with other people are reduced, whereby the attitude towards oneself is more pronounced.
- The third phase is characterized by emotional changes, which essentially consist of depressive reactions and aggression.
- Motivation, creativity and cognitive performance are reduced.
- A flattening of life on an emotional, social and cognitive level occurs in this phase, with positive experiences being less or less pronounced. A withdrawal from social life goes hand in hand in this phase.
- The burnout syndrome leads to psychosomatic reactions, which are characterized by increased blood pressure, rapid pulse, disturbances in the course of sleep and a weakening of the immune system.
- The end stage of the course of the disease is the hopelessness from the overall situation, which is accompanied by hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and a clearly negative attitude to life.

2.2 Causes of a burnout illness

In the scientific literature, stress is formulated as the central cause of burnout.[4] It is elementary and decisive how the sick person deals with stress. The identification of causes in the individual person and in the work environment is represented in a model by Cherniss.[5] The individual's career orientation, personal goals and stresses outside of work are the reasons for a burnout illness. In parallel, there are causes that are directly related to the work activity and its environment.[6]

Work activity and work environment can be divided into two separate categories.[7] According to this, job demands are causally dependent on the demands of the work and lead to mental fatigue of the employees. Job Resources, on the other hand, accompany and support work in the form of rewards and feedback and thus influence the motivation of employees.

In the following, the factors that promote or trigger a burnout illness are discussed in more detail.

2.3 Job Demands

A high volume of work is the reason for the emergence of stress in work. This occurs in particular if the work content appears to be pointless from the point of view of the employees and is therefore judged negatively. Constant time and deadline pressure is equally stressful and exhaustive.

Likewise, interpersonal contacts in a company context can be tiring for employees if they are largely problematic or become stressful in the course of the collaboration. On the emotional level, these negatively perceived contacts act as stressors for the employees concerned. The combination of excessive work volumes and constant contact persons can also have a negative effect on the employees concerned.

2.4 Job Resources

When starting a new job, the design of the induction process has a decisive effect on the feeling of stress in the workplace. New employees can get used to the new workplace environment better if the load is low at the beginning and increases in a planned and gradual manner over the course of the induction process. This also leads to a higher level of motivation or to the prevention of an early loss of motivation.

Monotonous work without a challenge leads to insufficient demands and a loss of motivation and thus acts as a long-term stressor. This also applies to restricted self-determination and reduced degrees of freedom in carrying out the work. Strictly prescribed processes can lead to a high level of dissatisfaction and thus to perceived pressure situations.

Unclear targets set by the manager tend to lead to uncertainty in the execution of work on the part of the employees. This is also related to the leadership skills of the respective manager.


[1] See Maslach, 1976, p. 16ff

[2] See Burisch, 2013, pp. 35ff.

[3] See ibid, p. 40ff.

[4] See Hedderich, 2009, p. 11.

[5] See Cherniss, 1999, p. 58ff.

[6] See Burisch, 2013, pp. 65ff.

[7] See Bakker / Demerouti / Nachreiner / Schaufeli, 2001, p. 502.

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