c) Organizational factors
According to Christina Maslach, there are six main causes of burnout related to the work environment
↑Work overload. This maybe due to several factors:
→A person is not sufficient in relation to the workload
→The length of a project, which may seem to have no end
→Urgent tasks that are interfering in the daily work
→The complexity of the tasks
↑↑The lack of autonomy.Companies tend to think that, for the sake of quality and efficiency, everything is measurable and controllable. This increases the pressure on people
↑↑↑The lack of recognition.
There are three types of recognition:
i) Financial(salary adapted)
ii) Social(positive feedback from the management, colleagues, the managed team, customers, etc.)
iii) Institutional(recognition of the career based on skills)
One mistake that can often been seen in companies is that the assessments will often focus on the result and not the effort and the amount of work performed by the employee. And this is even more frequent in the current difficult economic situation. Many workers will give the best of themselves,but because the objectives are not reached,they won’t be congratulated or encouraged.
- The lack of group spirit / membership. Frequent conflicts, negative feelings, complaints,criticism, tough requirements and short deadlines will contribute to a burnout.
- The lack of equity or a lack of integrity and transparency of the management will create a feeling of inequality in the treatment of employees
- Conflicting values. One may face conflicts between his personal values and his job or company values.
1.3 The characteristics / symptoms
Different researches agree that the burnout process is gradually taking hold, unbeknownst to the burnout’s candidate. There will be signs, but often the affected individual will not pay attention to it.He/she will not be aware of his/her condition until it is too late and it explodes. This is sometimes seen as “He (she) suddenly freaked out”
There are at the present time several questionnaires to find these characteristics.Among these, we may cite the Maslach Burnout Inventory(MBI), the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory(OLBI) or Hamburger Burnout Inventory.
As part of this research, I chose to take the characteristics set by the model OLBI. However,please find in appendix the characteristics of the other two models and the three questionnaires.
According to the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory model, we speak of exhaustion and disengagement.
- Physical(extreme tiredness,multiple pains, etc.).
- Intellectual(trouble to concentrate, to memorize, difficulties in decision-making, etc.).
- Emotional(crying, anger, despair, etc.).
- Relationship: A depletion of empathy and the emergence of cynicism, coldness in human and professional relations (loss of patience, aggression, tension,etc.).
Disinterestforthe job performed in the conditions in which it is performed
Coach and Burnout
As explained in the first part of this research, the phenomenon of burnout is complex and has been growing for the last 40 years. Coaches have a role to play in detecting and preventing it
The burnout is not an isolated phenomenon; it is affecting all Western countries. Considering that the percentage of the population affected is continually increasing (in Europe, we are talking about 15% of the labor force that is affected); we as coaches must have the knowledge of that phenomenon and have the right tools to help our clients.
There are two levels of action: the company and the people.
Ideally, the burnout prevention is performed via a multidisciplinary team. Coaching “alone” might have a too limited scope of action.This is why burnout prevention should be performed via the collaboration of different professionals such as psychologist, doctor,auditor, consultant and coach, working as a team.
As coach, we are not all part of a multidisciplinary team, but to a certain extent, it is always interesting to know other professionals to whom we can direct our customer when necessary. It is also possible for a coach to be multidisciplinary and be, at different moments, coach, auditor, consultant, etc. according to his/her experiences.
Here are four lines of action (axis) based on what is performed by the European Institute for Intervention and Research on Burnout
Research and diagnosis à Auditor
- Assess the risk of burnout and job stress within the company through studies validated by statistics
- Identify the groups at risk according to age,function, personality, etc.
- The findings enable to identify the groups with a high risk of burnout, to assess their direct and indirect costs, to develop recommendations and to implement action plans tailored to the identified characteristics.
Information à Consultant
- What is a burnout, what are its origins (sociological, organizational and individual personality), what are its causes?
- What is the difference between the burnout, a depression and stress?
- What are the possible solutions?
The intervention and support à Consultant,Coach and Psychologist
In response to a private request or at the demand from a company’-management /human resources managers
At the request of management committees, teams themselves or their leaders (examples: caregivers, teachers, professional organizations, etc.).
- “Post-shock”Interventions with individuals and teams who have been exposed to difficult business circumstances (situations of harassment,career suicide, etc.).
Prevention Consultant, Psychologist, Coach
→Taking into account the reality of the business, implementation of long term prevention projects:
- In partnership with stakeholders (occupational medicine, training structures within companies, social partners, etc.).
- Through a step by step approach (detection and evaluation, recommendations, action plans, communication, training and re-evaluation of the consistency of the project).
The above 4 axes cover the actions to be taken both at the business and the individual levels. Coaches not specialized in burnout will most often remain focused on the third axis of the intervention and support.
Still within the framework of prevention, Catherine Vasey presents 20 “prevention games” in her book “Burn-out: detect and prevent.” These 20 games are divided into 5 axes corresponding to different goals.
- Everything about the balance meaning the analysis of the present
- Locate the axis of life to allow a (re)alignment with oneself
- Requirement and personal recognition
- A better quality of life
- Support the body
For more details, I invite you to buy Catherine Vasey’s book
In the case of a severe burnout i.e. when the person is recognized to be in burnout with an inability to work, our role as a coach will be:
→to assist our customer during his/her reconstruction.
- In many cases, the appropriate coaching will be the "Transformational Coaching & Healing." Indeed, when facing such difficulty many are those who will challenge their way of living and we as coach can assist them in their path of transformation
- It is important to leave time to our customer to rest and to recover from his/her exhaustion. Initially the mental exhaustion can be so strong that simply speaking of it will be the best action to take
- Given the loss of confidence and guilt that may cause a burnout, it is important to acknowledge the customer of all his/her strengths.
- Our role will also be to propose to our customer to see other professionals such as a psychologist as it may help him/her to recover from his/her trauma
→to raise awareness of the company’s role in relation to the situation and to develop an action plan according to the 4 axes explained above.