Burnout at Work - What Are the Warning Signs?

From the beginning of the pandemic till today, the increased demands of everyday life in the pharmacy have led you and your team to exhaustion. A phenomenon also known as ‘Burn-out’.

What are the warning signs that you should notice? How can you prevent this situation before it is too late?

Burnout at Work - What Are the Warning Signs?

Burnout does not occur overnight, experts say. It occurs after an episode of chronic stress, which very gradually leads the employee to professional exhaustion.

Therefore, it is necessary to determine the symptoms of this chronic stress in advance, because once it occurs, the treatment is much more complicated, including even n inappropriate behavior or even interruption of work.

The warning signs to be noticed are many. Burnout is a syndrome that leads to symptoms of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.       

So, we should worry when we observe that an employee is tired, less efficient, less energetic, or has memory loss, difficulty concentrating, sleep disorders, no longer finds meaning in work or does not have the appropriate tolerance with difficult customers.

Except from the physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms, another category of symptoms associated to behavior is added, expert psychologists point out.

When someone starts to increase their consumption of tobacco or alcohol, takes psychiatric drugs, or sees their eating behavior disturbed, it is often a response to chronic stress. 

And when these changes occur in a person who did not experience any of these symptoms before, this means he has probably entered a phase of excessive stress.

Talk to him

The first thing you need to do as a manager when you detect worrying signs in one of your employees, is to talk to him. It is important that the boss takes the step, goes to the person in difficulty and does not leave him alone, since the risk of isolation is an aggravating factor.

To avoid upsetting him more, it is better to approach things in a simple way... Explain him that you have noticed some changes on him, that he looks tired, stressed and that you are worried about him.

If he confirms that he is indeed experiencing difficulties, you should try to identify the sources of his suffering, asking him if the stress is caused by overwork, by hours that do not suit him, difficulties in the relationship with a colleague or worries and problems of a personal nature.

After the sources of stress are identified, corrective measures must be taken to reduce them. The pharmacist can give his employee a few days off to allow him to relax a little and /or ask a colleague from the team (if any) to take over and help with the tasks that put him in a difficult position.

If he can no longer deal with difficult customers, you can also offer him a mini training in managing customer aggression.

Attention should also be paid to the smallest details. If you notice that he no longer takes his lunch break, you should encourage him to do it. If in the evening he still performs tasks after the end of his working hours, you need to remind him that it is time for him to leave....

Appropriate prevention actions 

Make sure that the workload is properly distributed among your team members and that employees take advantage of at least one weekend in two to be able to relax. 

In general, the recommended measures are taken with the aim to: improve the ergonomics of workstations to reduce the impact of uncomfortable attitudes, raise the awareness of workers to the risks in which they are exposed.

These measures also include holding regular informal meetings with the whole team to discuss the situation in the pharmacy and assess the endurance of employees.

Also, as much as possible, manage predictable peaks in everyday pharmacy activity. In pharmacies, for example, the months of October and November, the work has always been a lot, due to vaccination campaigns and outbreaks of viruses. 

The pharmacist must therefore find the method of organization that will allow not to add extra workload to the workers. And when we manage to integrate all these risk factors, we will achieve positive results, which will also be felt at the level of the atmosphere within the team.

Appropriate measures

In general, burnout depends on the work environment, while less depending on the personality and sensitivity of the individual. To avoid this, the employee facing difficulties should "work" on himself to increase his resistance to stress and learn to manage his reactions in difficult situations.

This effort can take many forms such as:

- Relaxation exercises throughout the day, focusing your breathing between the time interval of service of two customers. This will allow you to disconnect the mind and relieve the body from too much tension.

- Adopting a healthy diet and regular physical activity, also helps fight stress and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as restore better sleep.

- Opening a constructive counseling conversation with a patient on the bench, drinking a coffee with colleagues, listening to music at night at home... all these little things that are associated with pleasure and sociability and trigger positive emotions, will help the person to find balance!

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