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What is burnout? Is it a problem in our workplace? Does the public service do anything to avoid it?

Burnout is, according to English Wikipedia « thought to result from long-term, unsolvable job stress ». In French, the definition is slightly different. It « combines a deep fatigue, disinvestment of professional activity, and a sense of failure and incompetence at work ». I think the French definition is probably more accurate for the symptoms, while the English one explains the cause better.

As far as I know, this is not a major problem in our workplace. I've been aware a few burnouts in our organization in the last few years, but it is not endemic. I think some types of work are more affected by burnout: the higher the position, the higher the probability to be affected by a burnout. For one, the workload tends to be heavier as you go up the pecking order, and for two, the people in those positions are prone to work very hard. This is a combination that can lead to burnout.

In our workplace, we have two services to avoid burnout. First, there is the « Employee Assistance Program », a phone service available to all GoC employees, that you can call to receive advice and support for any issue about your work, including burnout symptoms. Someone will guide you through the available services.

Second, there is also a departmental initiative called Not Myself Today, an awareness campaign to create a healthy workplace, focusing on mental health. This is another initiative that tend to prevent burnout.

In short, while any burnout is impactful to both the person and the organization and should not be minimized, I don't think its a problem in our environment. But, like any accident, we should aim to reduce the case of burnout as much as possible.

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