Burn-out, bore-out, brown-out… All 3 are part of occupational psychosocial disorders. According to a study conducted by the training organization Chance, for 62% of French people questioned, their work “lacks meaning”. They live the brown-out. What is it concretely? How to protect yourself from it and what to do to get out of it? We tell you about it here.
Brownout, what is it?
The term brown-out is popularized by Doctor François Baumann in 2018, when his book came out: brown-out, when work no longer has any meaning. At the time, he wrote that 54% of employees suffered from it in France. But what is it exactly?
The brown-out affects mental health at work. Linked to a lack of meaning, it can lead to progressive exhaustion which can lead to psychological wear. Doing a job where you do not feel useful can, for example, create this discomfort. This is what the American anthropologist David Graeber calls, in an article that has caused a lot of ink to flow: “bullshit jobs”. Ill-being can also arise when there is a dissonance between the values of the company and those of the employee: work can lose all its meaning if there is a gap between its values and the actions that must be carried out. as part of work. Although the meaning that one finds in one's job comes from very personal factors, the causes that generate this suffering at work are clear.
Professional causes of brown-out
Tasks that make you feel useless or stifle your potential
When the tasks are repetitive, non-stimulating and devaluing or when they are superficial and you cannot see the concrete results of your action, a feeling of uselessness can arise and degrade your health at work.
A gap between your values and those of the company
If you perform tasks that go against what is emotionally important to you.
=> For example: if you are working on a project that does not include environmental issues while you are taking action in this direction in your personal life.
A work overload
A heavy workload, excessive demands can also lead to a loss of meaning in the role you hold. Not only does it create emotional and physical fatigue, but it can also affect the quality of your work, which can demotivate you.
=> For example, like caregivers, social workers, whose emotional investment is strong, are concerned. Overworked, the profession is affected by a general feeling of dehumanization. This excessive work makes the main objective of the profession lose its meaning: to take care of people.
Symptoms of brownout
When this occupational disease sets in, you may feel:
- An emotional overload
- Stress at work
- A somatization in disease
- An exhaustion syndrome
- Depressive feelings
If your state of suffering is of the order of professional exhaustion or depression, it is better to seek help from a professional (general practitioner, occupational medicine, psychologist) to begin psychosocial care and/ or get a work stoppage.
How to protect yourself from brownout?
Please note, occupational diseases such as burnout and brownout can be considered forms of moral harassment by the courts. To avoid this happening and prevent possible accidents at work, here are some recommendations.
Listening to needs
As with everything, communication is key, especially to ensure quality of life at work. Listen to your employees who lack motivation or put in place a culture that promotes exchange between manager(s) and employees in order to prevent suffering and limit professional risks.
Create a common culture
A lack of meaning can also come from a mismatch between the values of the company and those of the employee. To prevent this situation, it is better to communicate your values well during job interviews and ensure consistency between them and your business strategy. When changing or redesigning a company, bringing all employees together to (re)define values is also a good way to prevent the brown-out linked to this shift.
Explain the purpose of a project
Give meaning to the projects by explaining why they were chosen and what their purposes are so that each employee can understand the role they play in their realization. Projects understood and deemed legitimate by employees will only be more motivating.
Recognition is always appreciable for your collaborators because it rewards the efforts made within the framework of a project and gives a feeling of accomplishment which contributes to their motivation and their commitment.
Establish participatory management
The horizontal culture also promotes a climate of exchange and a better understanding of the company's challenges. Everyone participates in decision-making and thus feels legitimate to express what suits them or does not suit them in their work.
As an employee, you can also protect yourself from this emotional risk and fight against exhaustion by adopting certain habits.
Check in regularly
Asking yourself regularly to take stock of your work allows you to take the pulse of your professional situation. Am I happy in my job? What is wrong with me? Why ? Is it related to the tasks I perform? In my professional environment? Company values? What can I do to change my situation?
Communicate often with your manager
Do not wait to be in a liberated company or to have a communicative and super available supervisor to talk to. Feel legitimate to regularly communicate about your needs with your managers or your employer so that adjustments are put in place for your well-being at work. Talking about it will not only create a relationship of trust with them, but it will also help them better identify the tasks that you like and that they can pass on to you in the future, even if it means adapting your job.
Sometimes we create stress ourselves, which can be a daily suffering. Excess stress can indeed be the cause of mental or emotional overload that gives the impression of not being able to manage one's missions. Take the time to take breaks, to breathe, to relax, especially when you feel stressed. And maybe, if you feel able, try to detect your first stress indicators to work on the causes.
How to get out of the brownout?
Identify the causes of brownout
If you feel a lack of meaning in your work, try to understand the reasons. Are you not aligned with the values of the company? Are your daily tasks that no longer motivate you? Why ?
Understand what we need
By understanding what you dislike or miss today in your work, try to understand your needs. Do you no longer wish to carry out certain tasks? What motivates you and gives meaning to your work? What do you miss in your daily life?
Talk to your employer
Once you have identified the causes of your discomfort and your needs, it will be easier to talk to your employer about it. Do not wait for the annual interview to broach the subject. Prevention is better than cure as they say! Ask your manager, HR or your employer for a face-to-face discussion to address your lack of motivation, its causes, and your needs.
If, after trying to find your happiness by staying in your company, you have not succeeded, perhaps retraining in a meaningful job for you or in a company more aligned with your values is the solution? “You have no choice, you only have one life, you have to go! ”, as Chloé would say, who, due to a lack of meaning and positive impact in her profession, has changed paths.