June 12th, 2021
When I started a career planning business in 1990 less than 5% of our clients were what I now know to be "burnout" sufferers ( the term burnout wasn't in common usage back then although it was first coined by Freudenberger in 1974).
What happened over the intervening 31 years? The percentage has gone to 40%...... and climbing.
The percentage of people in work with burnout is now in almost unbelievable figures and is across professions and industries. With similar reports coming from around the world it is clear that it has already gone way beyond just a nuisance and way beyond something we can all keep ignoring.
It is easy to blame big events like Brexit or Covid for burnout getting worse - but the truth is that burnout has been around and increasing for quite some time. During Covid - some people's burnout got better and for others it got worse - hinting that it is perhaps more about ones own personal cocktail of burnoutogenic factors than it is about specific events.
The social shift towards ever increasing levels of burnout can be traced to a mix of "do more with less" and "always on" culture. However even without these - some people would still get burnout. So what I always try to impart is that it is pointless trying to blame any particular cause of burnout because - it is rarely that simple.
This is almost the wrong question to ask.
Burnout comes on very slowly - at times it is so slow that a person doesn't really face up to it until it is already quite advanced.
So it is not rocket science to conclude that it may take some time to resolve.
How long - is how long is a piece of string.
This is because every person's burnout has different contributing elements to it and each person will be at a different stage of burnout when they get in touch with us.
That said - I can offer some ball park figures
early burnout - can take a few weeks to begin to clearly be turning around ( once a programme of proactive supportive learning about burnout has got underway).
significant burnout - this is likely to take around 3 months to show real signs of reversal
advanced burnout - it is not unusual for this to take 6-9 months and perhaps longer if action cannot be taken for whatever reason.
Folk are often so relieved to feel even a tiny bit of improvement - it is common for them to think they do not need to continue learning and steering the tanker back to port. This is definitely folly as what then almost invariably happens is that the burnout goes underground only to return in a second cycle.
So the fastest way to eliminate burnout is to find out how bad it is and to face it with some structured learning support.
Next time : Do I need sick leave for burnout?
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