Professional burnout – a taboo topic

13 October 2022

The accepted nomenclature heavily complicates the matter. Professional burnout is most often associated with professions that have, in their nature of work, frequent contact with other people and a multitude of different tasks. These include doctors, salespersons, and teachers. However, this “embarrassing” problem of occupational burnout syndrome gets everyone! The IT industry is no stranger to that. 

According to the 2022 report on burnout in IT prepared by JustJoinIT and Twój Psycholog, it shows that up to 70% of IT employees have experienced job burnout.  

Workplace burnout in the IT industry. What does it mean in the real world? 

Most of the time, no one talks about how it looks, as addressing job burnout is not popular. In fact, the state of the mental health of IT workers is downright shocking! 

Studies show that 1 in 10 people under job stress know that they are under pressure. The first employee burnout signs seem innocent. They may be indicated by a decreasing desire for interpersonal contact, “withdrawing” at meetings, or not turning on the webcam. In such cases, the probability of professional burnout increases.

Further symptoms of burnout include tense muscles, a lack of energy and motivation to work, procrastination, shortness of breath, stomach aches, insomnia, and even fever.

An ideal employee profile on a path to burnout. 

A sense of burnout is not infrequently experienced by people who are overly involved, that is, who do not know how to set boundaries. It is an employee that is always willing to take responsibility for mistakes.

It is even tempting to say that with the prevalence of remote work, job burnout is catching on more often than ever.

Sometimes the desire to escape into work stems from personal difficulties. It is easy to catch the pattern of the work that leads to the vicious cycle of burnout. 

Read my article in which a really experienced developer shares their experience with burnout.  

The mental condition of the IT industry. Believed values vs. reality of job burnout risks

Who is more likely to become a victim of burnout? Someone who does not know how to rest.

What else has an impact on burnout risk factors? Lack of life after work, neglected relationships with loved ones, lack of free time for pursuing passions, and workplace loneliness. A good tool to help is the wheel of life, which allows us to verify whether we have balance in different spheres of life. Consider whether the way you think about values and the way you lead your life is supported by facts. 

You will hear more about it in my recording with Bartosz Cytrowski and Kamila Pyszka as a part of the series  Just Join IT; Devagacje – O wypaleniu zawodowym.

What should I do if the burnout already sprouts in me?

A toxic environment and people sowing terror in the workplace, suffocating cultural organization, or variability of a project should be the first red flag.

Job burnout often starts innocently enough-just like a drizzle that can get pretty intense after a while.  Once you feel the first burnout signs, take care of the variety in your life. I do not mean just the work itself, but also with colleagues and loved ones. 

Invest in soft skills development through available blogs or training courses. Sharing your knowledge with newbies will certainly delay burnout symptoms. 

Who takes care of the mental health of IT workers? 

People experiencing burnout are usually left alone, so take care of yourself because no one will do that for you. A survey by JustJoinIT and Twój Psycholog indicates that job burnout is an unheard problem. Nearly 60% of those surveyed responded that there is no psychological support for employees in their workplace.

As of January 1st, 2022, sick leave can be claimed for symptoms of burnout. However, this is not clear in the context of its unquestionability by the Social Security Administration. Polish regulations allow the issuance of a so-called L4 only for illness. The mere fact that occupational burnout is listed in the ICD-11 classification does not mean that it is recognized as more than a disease unit. 

It may be necessary to amend the current national legislation to remove the interpretive uncertainty. You need to keep your mental state under review. Be suspicious of yourself, remembering that the causes of professional burnout are a whole lengthy list.

The effects of burnout

What if you ignore the problem? What consequences await you? Professional burnout hinders and even interferes with the performance of daily duties. Problems with focus, anxiety, and productivity are typical in the circumstances of job burnout. 

Most IT companies do not know how to counteract it. Although recently, occupational burnout syndrome is beginning to be recognized. Company benefits, including counseling from a psychologist or the opportunity to use mental health and health care support platforms, are no longer a rarity. 

People experiencing job burnout mostly see changing jobs as the main solution to the problem. However, it is also possible to do things differently…

Take matters into your own hands! 

Programming can get boring, and then it is certain that burnout is right around the corner. You need to counteract it! 

My talk with Radek Wojtysiak Wypalenie zawodowe – jak poradzić sobie będąc “na zakręcie” swojej kariery repels the problem. You can listen to how Radek felt during the situation and how it affected his work.

Burnout can be felt! 

This can be easily seen during the job interview. I have personally experienced conversations during which people cracked and cried. Self-awareness is the key, and working on what we genuinely want brings smiles.

Why bother? Download our E-book on divergent expectations in collaboration. Read what to ask during recruitment to avoid disappointment in cooperation.

Pass this article on and thus save other IT employees from burnout. 

About the Authors

Aga Myśliwczyk ?

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Her mission is to have an impact on people’s quality of life! On a daily basis, she hires C-level executives and experienced IT professionals. Initiator of the FAIRit program, #KawaNaKlawiatura series, and IT recruiter academy #bezCV. It is just the beginning.