Burnout is easier to prevent than to cure. Use the calculator below to check on your team's mental health.
Burnout is a term that gets thrown around a lot. People often use it as a synonym for exhaustion. But is burnout actually just being tired?
Although burnout gets used in many different ways, there’s actually The clinical definition, by Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), defines burnout as the presence of three things:
When you see all three of these factors present in someone, you’re dealing with burnout in its truest form.
The causes of burnout are complex and often hard to recognize. It’s common for people to point to a single reason for burnout: bad management, toxic culture, over-ambitious goals, and so on. While each of these factors may contribute to the problem, it’s typically a combination of many of them that leads to employee burnout.
What are the 5 phases of burnout
Before you can start solving burnout, you need to understand how your employees are experiencing it.
As the name suggests, the honeymoon stage of burnout is one filled with positivity and optimism. An employee in this first phase of workplace burnout exhibits high energy and satisfaction even as their job-related stress increases.
But unlike an employee who is simply enjoying the challenges of their work, an employee in the honeymoon phase uses their unwavering commitment to their work as a coping mechanism for the stress and dissatisfaction that’s creeping up.
Eventually, the honeymoon phase wanes and troubling signs of stress emerge. Instead of unbridled optimism and positivity, employees will start neglecting self-care duties, have bouts of irritability, and begin to struggle to focus.
The tricky part about this stage is that some employees can hide it well, often by burying themselves further into their work. What’s more, the current state of remote work culture has made the practice of overworking surprisingly common.
The third stage of burnout is a turning point because it’s when the broad range of burnout symptoms people caution you about is hard to miss.
For example, minor annoyances might now lead to outward bouts of aggressive behavior, and low productivity levels turn into repeated missed work deadlines. Exhaustion becomes an everyday thing and apathy sets in. Also, employees’ previous attempts to numb these behaviors, such as hiding behind the work, aren’t as effective.
Also called the “crisis” stage, the fourth stage is where symptoms become critical. Here, exhaustion reaches a new high, and symptoms overall will be so pronounced and consistent that they hinder employee productivity altogether.
On the mental and emotional side, this may look like self-doubt and pessimism that results in social isolation, depression, and an “escapist mentality.” Physically, employees may suffer from symptoms like chronic headaches, fatigue, or body aches so frequently that it’s impossible to continue work as normal.
At the fifth and final burnout stage, symptoms don’t just pop up occasionally. Chronic physical and mental fatigue will be so embedded into the employee’s life that day-to-day functioning is a battle.
Neurologically speaking, burnout is long-term stress. The levels of stress people experience when they reach deeper stages of burnout have a damaging effect on the brain that takes a while to heal from. It takes at least 11 weeks for your brain to recover from burnout. However the psychological effects of burnout can take years to overcome.
Burnout is much easier to prevent than to cure. Catching the early signs and building a habit of emotionally checking in with your team is key. Kona is a burnout prevention app that lives in Slack. It’s free (not a 14 day trial, but actually free) and it takes your team less than 2 minutes to tell you how they’re feeling every day. Add Kona to Slack.