in specializations, qualifications, teams and other segments
It is talked about a lot, it is often complained about, they try to fight it and confuse it with ordinary fatigue. Most likely, each of us encountered it at least once, but continued to put our last efforts into the work project.
HR platform Beehive and I surveyed 2,000 IT professionals to understand how burnout is going in the IT sphere and to conduct a qualitative measurement of this seemingly eternal problem.
And advice for specialists and companies was left at the end of the article.
What is it anyway?
Burnout is a state of emotional, psychological and physical exhaustion, which often develops due to prolonged experience of chronic stress at the workplace. It can affect people in different fields and positions.
Emotional burnout characterized by excessive fatigue, lack of energy and a feeling of emotional exhaustion.
Depersonalization (or apathy) is expressed in a detached, cynical attitude towards others, clients or colleagues.
Professional efficiency decreases, which leads to a loss of satisfaction from achievements at work.
Professionals can lose motivation, worry and face serious consequences for physical and mental health.
About research methodology
To measure the level of burnout, we used the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) method by S. Maslach and S. Jackson. The questionnaire itself was used in N. Vodopyanova’s modification, adapted for the Russian audience.
In the Maslach methodology, five levels of expressiveness of burnout are distinguished:
Extremely low level
The specialist does not experience significant burnout. He feels satisfied with his work, there is no excessive fatigue or indifference to clients/colleagues.
A specialist may feel tired and some distance from his work, but this is not yet a direct manifestation of burnout.
Average level of burnout
The specialist may feel tired, demonstrate a cynical attitude, his sense of satisfaction in achieving results may decrease.
High level of burnout
The specialist experiences serious symptoms of burnout: emotional fatigue and indifference to work can increase greatly.
Extremely high level
The specialist experiences deep emotional fatigue, an extremely cynical attitude and an almost complete loss of a sense of personal fulfillment in work.
Let’s figure it out
84% of respondents encountered its signs, and 66% have a high and extremely high degree of expressiveness.
Depersonalization (or apathy)
Things are a little better here: 74% of respondents encountered this type of expressiveness, only 38% of them have a high level of expressiveness.
It is interesting that against the background of high emotional exhaustion, only 21% of respondents have low professional efficiency. It turns out that despite emotional burnout and depersonalization, specialists continue to be interested in work.
Total professional burnout is calculated as the sum of all three components that we studied above. Here’s what comes out:
Despite strong emotional burnout, general professional burnout is smoothed out by two other components.
It turns out that 44% of respondents are in the late stage of burnout. In general, 96% of IT professionals experienced burnout.
Let’s compare the graphs of the manifestation of burnout for each type:
How IT professionals feel
Burnout is not something that was not there yesterday, but suddenly appeared today. It is a long process of exhaustion. Therefore, it is important to understand in time that the load is increasing and take measures.
IT professionals were asked whether they consider themselves burned out. Let’s see what happened.
We then took these responses and applied them to calculations of burnout levels for his traits. We received the following picture:
Among the respondents who do not believe that they have experienced burnout85% have already met him, but have not yet understood it. In more detail, 77% of IT specialists are in the middle stage, and 8% are in the advanced stage.
Among those who believe they are in the early stages of burnout42% have already entered the late stage: 41% are in the high stage, and 1% are in the ultra-high stage.
Of those surveyed who think they are in the late stages of burnout26% actually did not reach it we hope they won’t make it.
We hypothesized that professionals with average burnout, although they are in a stressful state, have not yet reached their peak. Therefore, they decided to study those who have already reached the red indicators.
The share of specialists who are in the late stages of burnout was identified and compared within the segments.
The late stage of burnout was found more in women, but the difference with men is small – only 5%.
The late stage of burnout is most common in people over 30 years old, with a clearly expressed maximum up to 40 years old. It is rarest in the age group over 50 years old.
Most often, the late stage of burnout is found in leaders – the share is 52%. For seniors and middles, this indicator is approximately at the same level — 44% in each group.
But the interns “overdrive” the juniors: among them, 39% of specialists with a late stage of burnout are 3% more than among juniors.
Management, sales and support are specializations where professionals with a high level of burnout most often work. The lowest level among the late stages of burnout are developers, analysts and back-office specialists.
Mode of operation
The difference in indicators of late burnout is insignificant – we can come to the disappointing conclusion that the work mode does not have a significant impact on the condition of specialists.
Freelancing has the highest share of burnout: here, 49% of specialists are found to have a high level of this condition. Less often than others, burnout is observed in project employment — 38% of specialists.
The following trend can be observed here: the more work experience, the greater the proportion of employees who are burned out.
Most often, the late stage of burnout occurs among respondents who work in companies with fewer than 10 people.
The fewest late-stage burnouts among those working in small teams — up to 5 people. And the most such specialists appeared among teams of 5 to 10 people.
The share of IT specialists with a late stage of burnout in IT companies is much smaller than that of non-specialists.
Key factors of burnout
The main factors affecting the degree of burnout among the surveyed IT specialists were identified.
High manifestation of burnout
51% believe that they have lost excitement and motivation in work,
47% – feel a decline in strength and apathy towards work,
44% – get tired and exhausted before the end of the working day.
Low manifestation of burnout
31% believe that they are always full of energy and ready to implement all their plans,
27% – their colleagues and what happens to them are important
25% are interested in the people they work with. They make them happy.
Over 90% of IT professionals have already experienced burnout, with over 40% of them at a high or extremely high stage.
Among the respondents, only 23% of specialists believe that burnout has not affected them, but most of them are in the middle stage of burnout.
Among those who believe they are in the early stage of burnout, 42% have already moved to the late stage.
Of those interviewed who believe that they are in the late stage of burnout, 26% have not actually reached it.
Late stage of burnout:
More was detected in women, but the difference with men is small – only 5%.
It is most common in people aged 30 to 40 years.
Among the qualifications, those most often suffer from lead burnout – the share among them is 52%.
Management, sales and support are specializations with the highest level of burnout among specialists.
Most often, the late stage of burnout occurs among respondents who work in companies with fewer than 10 people.
Causes of burnout
There are external and internal factors that can lead to burnout. For example, working conditions are external – they can be changed relatively quickly. Internal factors are attitudes, behavior patterns, character traits and beliefs that guide people in their decisions. External conditions can affect when a person already has internal prerequisites for burnout.
excessive workload, busy work schedule,
lack of satisfactory remuneration,
deadlines, distracting factors: it is impossible to immerse yourself in work, all the time something breaks out of the process,
work conflicts, unhealthy atmosphere, pressure or isolation in the team.
Risk factors on the business side:
opacity of processes: a person often does not understand what and how to do with a work task, where to go, who to turn to;
not understanding what result is needed: when the manager sets abstract tasks without clear and understandable evaluation criteria;
conflict between employees: when people seem to want to communicate with each other, it interferes with a healthy atmosphere in the team;
a lot of routine: when a person has a lot of meaningless actions in his tasks, which he performs not for the result, but simply because it is necessary;
inconsistency of tasks with the characteristics of the employee’s character: for example, an employee may burn out if he likes creative tasks, and the manager always offers him procedural ones.
How to track burnout
Regularly assess your physical and emotional state. This will help to detect signs of burnout in time.
Overload can be a factor in burnout. Learn to say no and set boundaries at work.
Regular rest and vacation. If you feel overwhelmed and tired, try to take time off. And don’t forget about a regular vacation.
A hobby or pet project that brings you pleasure will help relieve work tasks and maintain emotional balance.
Work towards goals: both personal and professional. This will help to get motivation to overcome difficulties, which is important when getting out of any crisis.
What should managers do?
Be vigilant and pay attention to changes in the behavior and emotional state of employees. For example, decreased performance, irritability, apathy, and cynicism can be signs of burnout.
Hold regular one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss their current status, level of job satisfaction, and potential signs of burnout. Maintain an open dialogue.
Maintain a balance between exercise and rest. Send employees on vacation in a timely manner, and during rework, do not forget to provide additional days off or the possibility of starting the working day late.
Make sure that the employee is interested in the work tasks. Keep in mind that he is unlikely to come and say it himself. Employees need to understand that they can safely talk about their emotions and needs.
A simple change of activity or an additional task can become motivation for an employee. You can offer a transfer to another department or assign him to lead a new project. Mentoring or training newbies will remind a burned-out employee that he is a professional and has something to tell younger colleagues.
Praise employees. Positive feedback and a nod of approval from the boss is of great importance to many employees. The manager should notice the success of his wards.
What should companies do?
Try conducting anonymous employee satisfaction and engagement surveys. Enable questions to determine burnout. And if you make them regular, you can observe the dynamics.
Collect feedback about the processes and atmosphere in the team. Burnouts are often related to the working conditions in which the employee is. To reduce the risk of burnout and spot problems, a manager needs to communicate regularly with employees. It is important to combine assessment methods: pulse survey, feedback from colleagues, individual face-to-face meetings.
Conduct competency assessments and form development plans for employees. Once or twice a year, hold a meeting with each employee where you discuss the prospects of his work in the company. Ideally, the company should have transparent growth criteria, a career map and a working personnel reserve with clear criteria. A competent manager should tell the candidate about the way of his development even at the time of admission.
Conduct training for managers on emotional intelligence and managing the emotional atmosphere in the team.
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