Exist many companies that care about the well-being of their employees and, even if only to improve worker performance and productivity of the organization, they apply policies that make the workplace not all bad. Unfortunately, there are still many companies that do absolutely nothing for the worker, which can affect their mood.
In our article "The Survivor Syndrome: working in times of crisis can harm health" we comment on the impact that the economic crisis has had on the workplace. Since it is not entirely easy to change jobs today and, in most cases, we cannot do anything to change company policies, here are some tips to be happy in the workplace and avoid problems such as burnout or boreout .
1. Start the day right
Starting your day off right is going to affect the way you feel at work for the rest of the day. In this study, the researchers analyzed the relationship between mood and productivity. The results indicate that those who are in a better mood in the morning, work better and have better interactions with customers.
Start the day by taking time to enjoy breakfast instead of arriving at work stressed because you have gotten up late, go for a run before going to work, walk on the beach to breathe some fresh air or practice meditation before entering the office, it can improve your morning mood.
2. Do things you like outside of work
Doing things outside of the workplace, like doing activities that fill you up, studying something you like, planning vacations, etc., are activities that can keep your motivation high even though work isn't entirely rewarding.
In stressful situations, having motivations outside of work can work as a protective factor, since these activities work as a buffer against job dissatisfaction , that is, they reduce its negative impact on the employee.
3. Live close to work
As Yeo Valley research states, the happiest subjects in their study were those who took no more than 20 minutes to get to their workplace. The authors state that spending more than 20 minutes to go to work has a negative effect on the physical and psychological well-being of people.
4. Practice gratitude to yourself
Our brain has the facility to remember negative events before positive ones. One study found that negative setbacks at work are 3 times more shocking than things we do successfully while working.
Luckily, showing gratitude to ourselves improves our well-being. At the end of the workday, you can write down the positive things that have happened during that day, and doing this daily can make you feel more optimistic, as this study from Harvard University points out .
5. Make friends at work
According to the book “First, Break All The Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, one of the factors that most influence job satisfaction is good relationships with co-workers.
There is much research that indicates that social support from co-workers affects the well-being of workers. A good relationship with co-workers reduces stress, increases job performance, decreases the intention to leave work and even increases commitment to the organization.
6. Eat healthy and hydrate well
A Shirly Weiss study indicates that maintaining a healthy and balanced diet will have a positive effect on your attitude at work. In addition, eating and hydrating properly will cause you to perform better in the office, and that your energy level and your concentration remain at a good level. Therefore, instead of going to the vending machine to buy a chocolate bar, take a healthy "snack" to rest and enjoy its benefits.
Survivor Syndrome: working in times of crisis can harm your health
Layoffs can lead to survivor syndrome.
For almost a year, Susana Rosales, an administrator in a Barcelona factory, watched with suspicion as her colleagues were fired one by one. Operators, salespeople, colleagues in the administration department, and even the marketing manager. “Every time I attended a colleague's farewell, I thought it would be the next one . I felt lucky to continue working at the company, but it was really stressful to think that any day it would be my turn. This situation affected me on a daily basis and caused me anxiety and insomnia, ”says Rosales.
As in the case of Susana, the interruption of normality in working life due to “ downsizing ” (workforce reduction) causes employees to adapt to a new situation that can have a negative effect on well-being and non-satisfaction. only of those who lose their jobs, but also of those who keep their jobs. This phenomenon, first studied by Noer , is known as the “ Survivor Syndrome ”. It is characterized by high levels of anxiety and stress (or burnout), lack of motivation and affective commitment towards the organization, general dissatisfaction and distrust towards the company.
According to the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) “many factors affect the well-being of employees, and the economic and social environment is extremely important in this regard”. Therefore, it recommends: "The psychosocial factors related to work, economic contexts and social contexts that cause discomfort should be modified to reduce levels of dissatisfaction ."
The truth is that, given the impossibility of changing the economic or political panorama of a country in times of recession, many are affected by this syndrome. A study by Jussi Vahtera, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, found that "in times of crisis, those who keep their jobs increase the probability of suffering from cardiovascular diseases 5 times". The causes? Increased stress, excessive workload, and ongoing job insecurity.
Stress and burnout and their relationship with the health of workers
As we discussed in the article " Burnout: how to detect it and take action " stress and job satisfaction have become an important factor in the workplace in recent decades. Psychosocial risks and burnout are among the most difficult problems in the field of safety and health at work, since they significantly affect people and organizations.
For the worker it causes consequences on a physical, emotional or behavioral level, and for the company, it negatively affects the organization, the work environment, performance or interpersonal relationships . In this context, feelings arise in employees such as indifference, despair in front of work, greater demotivation or an increase in the desire to leave the job that can lead to abandonment of the profession in many cases. In many companies there is a high rate of absenteeism due to this phenomenon.
Crisis? More work and more uncertainty for the survivors
Many companies are not on the fringes of the economic crisis in which the European Union is living, and for this reason layoffs become something frequent within companies. The job survivor in times of crisis bears the added pressure of often having to work longer hours to do the tasks of colleagues who are gone. This added pressure and the fear of being fired at any moment can cause irritability, difficulty concentrating and, in some cases, anxiety attacks, ”as Julie Monti explained to Today's Chicago Woman magazine .
This syndrome is gaining such relevance that it arouses the interest of scientists, organizations, Human Resources departments and even governments. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality US provides scientific evidence that relates the number of workers with discomfort at work . In this study the close association between a deficient endowment of human resources and the consequent appearance of stress, burnout , psychosomatic symptoms, loss of well-being and dissatisfaction is revealed .
Another study, in this case on the incidence of restructuring in companies and workers' health, prepared by Labor Asociados for the Ministry of Employment of Spain and which includes data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), highlights stated that "the crisis has made workers face with fear and stress the possibility of losing their jobs."
In addition, it is concluded that "there may be more accidents, injuries and even deaths at work due to cuts in personnel."
What can companies do to help survivors?
Experts recommend promoting greater communication, greater employee involvement, and recognition of the emotions that boil in the workplace to help survivors reduce or eliminate their symptoms and improve the work environment . "This fear, caused by the lack of communication from the company towards the employee, can end up generating anxiety, anguish, panic attacks and crying episodes," says psychologist Roger Puigdecanet from the Psychological Attention Unit.
The fact that employees do not feel valued is also a trigger for many psychological problems within the organization. There are several studies that highlight the importance of transformational leadership in reducing stress, improving self-esteem , job satisfaction and increasing productivity. This type of leadership is characterized by a high degree of communication with employees and the influence on the beliefs and interpretations of the meaning of work that workers have, in a way that increases well-being.
According to Peiró , a professor at the University of Valencia, “the authentic transformational leader strives to do what is correct and fair for all interested parties in the organization and can willingly sacrifice their own interests for the collective good of their work team or your organization "
In the aftermath of the crisis, many companies are aware of the effects this situation can have on productivity , and increasingly they are making an effort to hire professionals who specialize in motivating people who survive the downsizing. The director of Advantage Consultores , Sylvia Taudien, comments that “companies ask us for individual or group coaching actions to re-unite the team, teach how to assimilate change and manage fear”.
In addition, Taudien regrets that "we are finding surprising cases of highly trained and well-paid managers who in difficult times do not know how to lead and transmit confidence to their team and instead immerse themselves in their own pain over the situation of the company" .
If companies are willing to make layoffs (especially on a large scale), employees are more than likely to suffer from some effects of survivor syndrome. In any case, the impact of this syndrome can be reduced if measures are adopted to understand it and redirect the possible negative consequences it may cause on the well-being of workers.
Appropriate communication and an effective leadership style can lead to improvements in the way workers perceive this situation and, in this way, minimize the consequences on their occupational health. Improving the well-being of workers will also have a positive effect on the health of the organization, that is, it will positively affect its performance in the market.
Burnout: how to detect it and take action
Burnout or burn syndrome is a psychological disorder that affects workers.
The Burnout Syndrome (burned, melted) is a type of work stress, a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion that has consequences on self-esteem , and is characterized by a gradual process, by which people lose interest in their tasks, the sense of responsibility and can even reach deep depressions.
Burnout syndrome: burned at work
This syndrome was described for the first time in 1969 when verifying the strange behavior that some police officers of that time exhibited: police officers who showed a specific picture of symptoms.
In 1974 Freudenberger made the syndrome more popular, and later, in 1986, the American psychologists C. Maslach and S. Jackson defined it as “a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lower personal fulfillment that occurs in those individuals who work in contact with clients and users ”.
What is Burnout Syndrome and how does it manifest?
The syndrome would be the extreme response to chronic stress originated in the work context and would have repercussions of an individual nature, but it would also affect organizational and social aspects. Researchers have been interested in this phenomenon since the 1980s, but it is not until the late 1990s that there is some consensus on its causes and consequences.
One of the general explanatory models is that of Gil-Monte and Peiró (1997), but others such as those of Manassero et al (2003), Ramos (1999), Matteson and Ivansevich (1997), Peiró et al (1994) or Leiter (1988), were born to respond to the strategies and intervention techniques necessary to prevent and minimize the effects of a problem that has been increasing especially since the beginning of the crisis (Gili, McKee. And Stuckler. 2013).
Cultural differences in Burnout Syndrome
Even so, and counting on the advances developed by research in specific fields, there are still different interpretations about the most appropriate type of intervention when correcting it: either of an individual nature, emphasizing psychological action, or of a social or organizational type. , affecting the working conditions (Gil-Monte, 2009). Possibly, these discrepancies have their origin in cultural influence.
The studies by Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter (2001) found that there are certain qualitative differences in the American and European profiles, since the latter show lower levels of exhaustion and cynicism . Regardless of the continent in which you live, there are certain aspects that you must know in order to act in time and be able to prevent or correct it. In this article you will find some clues about this phenomenon. What you learn can help you deal with the problem and take action before it affects your health.
People at risk of suffering it
You may be more likely to experience Burnout if you meet several of the following characteristics (in the form of signs or symptoms):
- You identify so strongly with work that you lack a reasonable balance between your work life and your personal life.
- He tries to be everything to everyone, assuming tasks and functions that do not correspond to his position.
- Works in jobs related to work activities that link the worker and their services directly with clients. This does not mean that you cannot perform in other types of work, but in general doctors, nurses, consultants, social workers, teachers, door-to-door salespeople, interviewers, collection officers, and many other trades and professions are at higher risk of developing the condition. .
- You feel like you have little or no control over your work.
- His work is especially monotonous and he has no frights.
Can I be experiencing burnout at work?
Ask yourself the following questions to find out if you are in danger of Burnout:
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Do you crawl to work and often have trouble getting started once you arrive?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers or clients?
- Lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you lack satisfaction in your achievements?
- Are you disappointed in your work?
- Are you using too much food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better?
- Have your appetite or sleeping habits changed because of your job?
- Are you worried about unexplained headaches, backaches, or other physical problems?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing Burnout . Be sure to check with your doctor or a mental health professional, however some of these symptoms can also indicate certain health conditions, such as a thyroid disorder or depression.
- Emotional exhaustion : a professional burnout that leads the person to psychological and physiological exhaustion. There is a loss of energy, fatigue on a physical and mental level. Emotional exhaustion occurs when having to perform work functions daily and permanently with people who must be cared for as work objects.
- Depersonalization : manifests itself in negative attitudes in relation to users / clients, there is an increase in irritability, and loss of motivation. Due to the hardening of relationships, it can lead to dehumanization in treatment.
- Lack of personal fulfillment : decrease in personal self-esteem, frustration of expectations and manifestations of stress at a physiological, cognitive and behavioral level.
The exhaustion of work present in the Burnout Syndrome can be the result of several factors and can normally occur when conditions occur both at the level of the person (regarding their tolerance to stress and frustration, etc.) and organizational (deficiencies in the definition position, work environment, leadership style of superiors, among others).
The most common causes are as follows.
1. Lack of control
An inability to influence decisions that affect your work: such as your schedule, assignments, or workload that could lead to job burnout.
2. Unclear job expectations
If you are not sure about the degree of authority you have or your supervisor or others expect of you, it is unlikely that you are comfortable at work.
3. Dysfunctional work dynamics
Maybe you work with a difficult person in the office, feel belittled by colleagues, or your boss doesn't pay enough attention to your work.
4. Differences in values
If values differ from the way your employer conducts business or handles complaints, the mismatch can take its toll.
5. Bad job fit
If your job doesn't match your interests and abilities, it can become more and more stressful over time.
6. The extremes of activity
When a job is always monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to stay focused, which can contribute to higher levels of fatigue and burnout from work.
7. Lack of social support
If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you may feel more stressed.
8. Imbalance between work, family and social life
If your job takes up a lot of your time and effort and you don't have enough time to spend with your family and friends, you can burn out quickly.
Psychological and health effects
Ignoring or not treating burnout can have significant consequences, including:
- Excessive stress
- A negative overflow in personal relationships or home life
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Cardiovascular impairment
- High cholesterol
- Diabetes , especially in women
- Cerebral stroke
- Vulnerability to diseases
- Muscle pains
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Problems with menstrual cycles
Remember, if you think you may be experiencing Burnout, don't ignore your symptoms. Consult with your physician or a mental health professional to identify or rule out underlying health conditions.
Therapy, treatment and advice
If you are concerned about burnout at work, you need to take action. To start:
- Manage stressors that contribute to job burnout. Once you have identified what is fueling your burnout symptoms, you can make a plan to resolve the problems.
- Evaluate your options . Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Maybe you can work together to change expectations or come up with compromises or solutions.
- Adjust your attitude . If you've become cynical at work, consider ways to improve your outlook. Rediscover the pleasant aspects of your position. Build positive relationships with peers to achieve better results. Take short breaks throughout the day. Spend time outside of the office and do the things you love.
- Seek support . Whether it reaches out to coworkers, friends, loved ones, or others, support and collaboration can help cope with job stress and feelings of burnout. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of the services available.
- Assess your interests, skills, and passions . An honest evaluation can help you decide whether to consider an alternative job, such as one that is less demanding or better suited to your interests or core values.
- Get some exercise . Regular physical activity, such as walking or biking, can help you better cope with stress . It can also help you unwind outside of work and focus on something else.
In summary, it is advisable to keep an open mind while considering the options, and if you think you are suffering from this syndrome, try to fix it as soon as possible.
It is also important not to make the problem more serious by confusing the Burnout Syndrome with a disease: neither is it, nor do its triggers have to be found in one's body.