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Do You Have Job Burnout?

It is the rare individual who, at some point in their working life, does not experience some degree of job burnout.  There are varying degrees of burnout and noticing the signs as well as taking some action to prevent full-blown burnout can stave off most cases.  Burnout was first studied and reported in the 1970s through the Maslach Burnout Inventory methodology.  This tool continues to be the standard today for measuring burnout and is based on a three dimensional model:
  1. Exhaustion (physical)
  2. Cynicism      (emotional)
  3. Inefficacy    (lack of results/productivity)
Herbert Freudenberger coined the term “burnout” in 1974.  Along with colleague and psychologist, Gail North, they established common phases of the burnout process.  They are:
  • A compulsion to prove oneself
  • Working harder and harder and harder
  • Neglecting one’s own needs
  • Displacement of conflicts
  • Revision of values (friends or hobbies are completely dismissed)
  • Denial of emerging problems (cynicism and aggression become apparent)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Behavioral changes become obvious to others
  • Inner emptiness
  • Depression
  • Burnout syndrome
The studies noted above are relevant to extreme cases of burnout.  Burnout generally starts out on a small scale and can be corrected fairly easily by the person affected if prompt action is taken.  Prolonged stress, as well as internal and external pressures that are not dealt with, can turn into a full-blown burnout situation as described in the phases above. Later this week we will look at causes of burnout, symptoms of burnout, as well as prevention and cures.
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Judy W Bell

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