Harri works in a big company as an official. He works a lot throughout the year. In addition to his actual area of responsibility, Harri has lately undertaken a few extra projects. The projects require much travelling and sometimes Harri has no time to rest between the trips. The work situation has eased up a bit for the moment, but Harri is still very tired. He often wakes up in the middle of the night, thinking about the upcoming workday. New upcoming projects already feel dreadful. Harri often feels he can no longer handle his job.
What can Harri do?
Harri's job has been so stressful for so long, he has not had enough time to rest in between. As a result of the long-term stress, recovery from work takes more time than usual.
In addition, Harri probably has too much work for one person to handle. In addition to fatigue, the symptoms of burnout include cynicism towards work, losing the joy in work, deterioration of self-esteem and professional identity, physical symptoms such as a racing heart and a general feeling of an elevated stress level.
Harri should discuss his situation both with his own boss and the occupational health care nurse or doctor. He might also consider talking to the employees’ representative. In case there is a long way to go until Harri’s next longer holiday or if he still does not feel rested after returning from his holiday, it might be useful to apply for sick leave. Burnout should be taken seriously, as prolonged burnout may lead to depression, among other things.
In addition to the sick leave and rest, Harri should consider participating in rehabilitative activities, which maintain his ability to work, such as vocational rehabilitation offered by KELA. In addition, the rehabilitation unit of the SOS Crisis Centre organises courses aimed at improving well-being at work.
However, his working conditions must change one way or another in order to prevent the burnout from recurring once Harri returns from his possible sick leave or rehabilitation. The amount and contents of work, as well as his responsibilities at work, should be limited. Similarly, repeated business trips exhaust most people.
In order to control work-related stress, it is important for employees to be able affect their workload and work contents. However, many jobs do not allow this. Even if Harri took good care of himself, by sleeping, eating and exercising to the proper amount, and meeting his friends, the work itself may be so stressful that personal choices alone cannot prevent burnout.
In an ideal working environment, Harri’s burnout risk would be taken seriously and work tasks would be reorganised to better support the coping of the personnel. It is more than likely that Harri is not the only person in his department or unit who is on the verge of a burnout.