Outgoing state secretary Van ’t Wout of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment had commissioned research into the causes and consequences of burnout symptoms. The final report ‘Oorzaken, gevolgen en risicogroepen van burn-out’ (Causes, consequences and high-risk groups of burnouts) was recently published by TNO, the Netherlands National Organization for Applied Scientific Research. The research shows that interviewees mention a large number of diverse causes which could lead to experiencing burnout symptoms. The ‘accumulation’ of different causes also appears to be a major culprit.
The most frequently mentioned causes for burnout symptoms lie in work itself. Examples are workload, both physical and emotional, and a poorly performing supervisor. The second most frequently mentioned causes are personality traits, such as perfectionism or a low self-esteem, followed by causes pertaining to private life. TNO also asked employees to mentioned what they thought was the best way to ward off a burnout. Almost all of them mentioned ‘preventive action’. Supervisors play a key role here, by noticing the potential problem(s), listening and acting accordingly. The organization as a whole is expected to provide support.