Is burnout a fashion phenomenon? Burnout seems to be an ongoing epidemic around the world. Almost everyone has a colleague or acquaintance who has come home with burnout complaints. This costs employers more and more money. For example, in 2015 employers lost 2 billion euros due to absence as a result of work stress, but this amount increased to 2.5 billion euros in 2016. For each employee, this amounted to € 7800 in 2015 and € 8200 in 2016.  

burnout on the rise
Burnout continues to be a number 1 problem for employers.

Some claim that these debilitating complaints are only a fashion phenomenon. They believe that disorders such as burnout, ASD or ADHD seem to increase because people ignite each other. E.g. someone feels a bit tense and sleeps badly. The moment this person shares his or her concerns with someone from the work environment, the link is quickly made with a burnout. Just by searching on the internet, people have soon led to reading web pages about burnout complaints. As a result, people often self-diagnose themselves before they have visited a specialist.  

In addition, practitioners would need to make diagnoses unnecessarily, why? Because they would benefit from this themselves. Anyone who distributes many labels can also prescribe a lot of medication. And there is much money to be made on medication. In this article, we explain whether these statements are correct. Is the burnout a fashion disease of modern times? And do the people who are at home with a burnout eventually return? You can read it all here.  

In the Good Old Days, No One Had a Burnout!  

Sometimes people with a burnout are depicted as weaklings. Especially when young people fall prey to burnout. Because of this, the younger generation is accused of not having self-discipline. Thirty years ago, did burnouts not occur? And how about all those people who lived during the industrial revolution? The working class lived in appalling conditions. They had to survive in small houses, their options were, literally between a rock and a hard place, and hygiene standards left something to be desired. They also had long working days in the factories. Men, women, children, almost everyone cooperated. And yet you never hear anything about burnout complaints of the 19th century.  

These kinds of comparisons are of course easy to parry: We now live two centuries later and have very different standards. The people in the factories will also undoubtedly have suffered from sustained (physical) stress. But in those days, one could not do otherwise. Often these workers literally had to make the choice between getting on or dying. If you did not work through difficulties, you had to pay for it with the loss of a job or dismissal. Completely stopping work also meant that you had no income and therefore had no money to eat. The life expectancy of factory workers was therefore shockingly low during the industrial revolution. Fortunately, times have changed and nowadays people can simply claim they are sick when they are no longer working.  

Read also: Colleague with burnout


burnout progression
circumstances and living conditions have changed


Development In the Amount of Burnout Cases

But what about the people who were working a few decades back? The burnout seems to be somewhat common in the last few years. Is the problem, just, Us? Is not a burnout just in between the ears? No, unfortunately not. There are a number of reasons why burnout is becoming increasingly common nowadays. 

On the one hand, the burnout increases because the work pressure is increasing more than ever before. In recent years organizations have cut spending. In the care and education sectors, employees are continuously taking on more tasks. A growing list of requirements is being imposed on the ‘modern employee’. Growth is becoming more normal. People are expected to be eager to learn and autonomous. This alone can cause a lot of stress. There are also quite a few underlying causes that call for a burnout. Many young people are lonely nowadays. Whoever is lonely experiences stressfulness more often and is, therefore, more prone to burnout. The same applies to many people who work with temporary contracts or as flexible workers. The uncertainty about work and income puts extra pressure on employees.  

Also read: Succesful re-integration after burnout

Healthy Stress and Dealing With Stress 

A little stress is no bad thing. Everyone experiences feelings such as this to a greater or lesser degree and that is not bad at all, as long as you have enough time to recover after such a period. Those who do not get or take time to de-stress, suffer from stress for a longer period of time. This can cause burnout. We speak of a burnout when someone has been overwrought for more than six months due to stress complaints. 

Certain people are more prone to burnout. These are, for example, people who find it difficult to sometimes say  ‘no’, and therefore take too much hay on their forks. People who describe themselves as ‘perfectionists’ are also more likely to be hit with a burnout. Many people do not know how to deal with stress. Especially when people feel that there is a lot counting on them, they seem to get stuck. 

Learning to deal with stress in the correct manner can prevent a lot of trouble. Employers, therefore, do well to teach their employees how to deal with stress. They can do this by offering courses or giving lectures on the subject. It also helps a lot when organizations learn how to recognize stress complaints among their staff. In this way, the problem can be highlighted and addressed at an early stage. Organizations that can signal these complaints and enter into discussions with their employees can be utilized in this way. 

As an employee, you can also undertake a few things to learn how to deal with stress better. For example, many people benefit from following a preventative coaching process. During such a process you learn to deal with emotions and stress differently. Planning and training can mean the difference between suffering or avoiding burnout. If you can plan everything well, you retain your focus. 

Vulnerable to burnout
Everyone is at risk of burnout if the stress signals are not identified quickly.

Do People Have Such An Impact On Others? 

Today, 16% of all employees are experiencing stress complaints. In recent years the number of people with stress complaints or a burnout has only increased. This is not because people ‘ignite’ each other. However, burnouts may occur more frequently in certain organizations. It is therefore very important that these organizations carry out research into the cause. A major cause of stress complaints is, for example, an unpleasant organizational culture. If people feel that they are constantly being questioned and their issues are not being heard, they can become tense. 21% of employees have the impression that their manager has little or no regard for the well-being of their employees and 19% do not feel heard by his or her superiors. 

What is contagious, is fun in the workplace. When an organization creates a pleasant environment in which employees feel heard and appreciated, you see a decline in sickness and reports of stress. A good relationship with colleagues is very important for many people. 96% of employees, even indicate that they receive a lot of support from colleagues. (Source: TNO) What also contributes to the reduction of stress complaints is the possibility to develop yourself. 74% of employees feel that their employer offers sufficient opportunities and incentives for this. Working from home can also contribute to pleasure in the workplace. Nowadays more than half of the employees can help determine their own working hours. These types of measures not only generate a lot of money but also makes for happier employees. 

Read: Increase safety as a manager

Causes of burnout and stress


Is There Unnecessary Medication Prescribed? 

Last year it was often in the news: too many Dutch people were prescribed antidepressants for complaints such as anxiety or burnout. In total, it was found that 1 million Dutch people use antidepressants. A huge number. People often become dependent on such medication when they use it for a long time. Medication often does not provide a sustainable solution to the problem. It is best when a good plan of action is made, to ensure that people get rid of all their complaints. 

Fortunately, it is now clear to most doctors that patients mainly benefit from good treatment and not medication. Medication only slows down the process and, in many cases, even counterproductive. Someone with a burnout does not benefit greatly from heavy medication or long-term therapy. It usually works better to have someone integrate little by little into the labor process. In the meantime, people benefit from getting to know their pitfalls and learning to deal with stress. In this way, they will have the next chance to nip the burnout in the bud when it rears its head. 

Read: Stress Prevention


Is Burnout a Fashion Phenomenon? 

If you have a burnout, then you are absolutely not a week employee. Also, the burnout is not a fashion phenomenon, but there is a clear explanation for the increase in the number of burnouts. It is possible that people themselves wrongly diagnose themselves, but to actually get the diagnosis ‘burnout’ from a (company) doctor, such a physician must first be convinced that it is actually a burnout. 

Who Are We?

Milltain, with a team of experienced trainers, supports organizations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. Our training courses are aimed at managers within companies. A burnout quickly costs the organization € 70,000.

In addition to financial suffering, human suffering is high. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before you know it you are in a negative vicious circle.

Similar Posts