Burnout in Germany – Must Know [2024]

by | Work in Germany

Last Update: Feb 23, 2024 @ 11:23 am

Home 9 Work in Germany 9 Burnout in Germany – Must Know [2024]

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Germany is a very progressive country around the globe but when it is about work life balance, people suffer a lot. Did you ever suffer from burnout or psychological illness? Almost every German has a story of their burnout to share with others. Burnout situations can worsen, so everyone must have the necessary information. This article is written explicitly for expats, foreigners, and immigrants in Germany so they can deal with burnout symptoms immediately.

According to the representative survey conducted with 10000 employees, 42% of international respondents said that they will have burnout symptoms in 2022. The number varies from country to country. Japan is the country with only a 27% burnout rate. Burnout ratio in the United States is comparatively higher than Japan. 41% of workers felt burnt out at their workplaces in the United States. The number is below the international average of 41%. The figure for France and the United Kingdom was equal at 48%. The most critical symptoms were found in Australia. Almost 50% of workers reported that they felt burnt out due to work.

Related Topic: How to Take a Sick Leave in Germany

Burnout Defined

Burnout is a condition faced by mostly people who suffer from long term stress after getting physically and emotionally exhausted. For example stress at the workplace due to tough assignments, feeling overwhelmed by work, issues in personal life, or uncooperative bosses. The person experiencing burnout cannot get rid of it on its own so one must address the root causes and solve the relevant issues due to which burnout is causing.

Burnout Definition Given By The World Health Organisation

According to the definition given by the world health organization, burnout is a symptom that results due to the stressful work environment, uncooperative bosses, and hectic job schedule. WHO categorized it with three different factors;

  • Having mental distance from your job
  • Feeling of tiredness and being exhausted
  • Staying less efficient in work assignments

Factors That Cause Burnout

Multiple factors can cause burnout. According to the studies, the lockdown period (during the pandemic) was the greatest reason for the burnout people suffered during Covid-19. Other factors might be;

  • Money issues if you are unable to manage and plan your budget efficiently
  • Continuous work or work without breaks
  • Inflexibility at work
  • Age factor and gender

Financial Issues

Financial issues contribute a lot towards mental health. If you are a low income person or have some major expenses that are not covered by insurance provider, employer, or you do not get welfare support, you might suffer from mental illness or burnout. Your financial issues and money problems can lead to mental distress.

Long Working Hours

Work life balance is very vital no matter what job you are in. You need to carefully examine your tasks, assignments, duties, and projects for better and effective time management. If you are in a job with longer working hours, you are unable to spend your time with your family or friends, and you have poor work life balance, you might face mental illness at any time. Work life balance is necessary for your own well-being and mental health.

Work Flexibility

According to the survey, people do not get flexibility during working hours at offices. This is the major factor that surprisingly causes burnout. When people do not get enough flexibility at work, they feel exhausted and burnt out. 53% of international respondents claimed that they are not satisfied with the amount of flexibility they have at work. The figure was 37% for people who were satisfied with the work flexibility.

Age and Gender

Another factor is very important to see who feels burnout more. Age and gender also matter. As per findings of the studies, young employees and women feel more burnout as compared to the males and other age groups. 48% of people under age 30 felt burned out at the end of 2022. According to the studies conducted in 2021, 44% of women shared that they suffer from burnout whereas 63% of men shared that they never had faced the burnout.

Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout results in poor physical and mental health. It also affects the quality of life and your relationships. If you are experiencing the below mentioned signs and symptoms, you must consider it as burnout.

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Stress or depression
  • Feeling tired again and again even if you are not overburdened.
  • Feeling drained at all times.
  • Feeling of being alone.
  • Reduced productivity
  • Doubt in self (anxiousness and insecurity)
  • Reduction in an individual's performance
  • Feeling helpless.
  • Loss of trust towards boss or higher management.
  • Feeling trapped or defeated.
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of overwhelming.
  • Taking too much time than required time for things to be done.
  • Having a negative outlook.
  • Increase in errors and mistakes
  • Sudden poor performance even if you know how to work.

Innovative Ways to Deal with The Burnout at Work

Work life balance has become tough due to the longer working hours, toxic environment, stressful conditions, and inflexible job requirements at workplaces. Burnout ratio is increasing with time so everyone must have a clear understanding about dealing with the burnout efficiently. According to the studies conducted in 2022, around 37 % of Germans reported burnout at work. In May 2021, the figure was less than this; 29 %. Keep in mind that burnout may worsen your mental and physical state, so coping with it well in time is necessary. There are multiple ways and methods that you might apply when you are experiencing burnout or stress during work. Read the effective tips below;

Take a Break

If you are working on multiple assignments and projects simultaneously, you must take a break after a set of intervals. Get up and spend at least 5 minutes away from your seat and screen to relax.

Set Your Schedule

Make a schedule and do everything according to the planned structure so you can manage all projects and meetings in a good way. This will allow you to spend a hassle-free day.

Time Management Approach

Learn to manage your time as it is the most important factor that can be the reason for your mental health at your workplace.

Burnout Leave

Burnout leave is the best way to deal with the stress and fatigue at work. In Germany, employees can get a leave of 72 weeks if they are feeling burnt out. The burnout leave is a paid leave and your salary or income does not affect in any way. Employees get the full salary during their burnout leave. Burnout policy in Germany is designed to support employees to overcome their stress and regain their energies for work. They can motivate themselves with a good amount of rest during 72 weeks. Employers get benefits if they allow burnout leave to their employee in multiple ways;

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Minimize turnover
  • Health care costs

Employees are not benefited with the burnout policy by law, but they can avail it after discussing with the employer. It is a kind of agreement between employee and employer or the representative. Duration of the burnout leave depends on the severity of the case. It can start from a week and lasts to several months if the symptoms are severe.

Involve Yourself in The Physical Activities

Physical activities play a vital role in stress management. Exercise, workout, or walk helps to stay relaxed and calm that ultimately improves mental wellbeing.

Eat Well and Have Enough Sleep

Poor sleep can be the main reason for physical and mental tiredness. Enough sleep along with a good diet is very good to perform your job at the workplace. Set your routine and have a good sleep every day. Make a proper diet plan so you can have a balanced diet with all nutrients and essentials. Relaxing techniques can help you if you are sleep deprived.

Cognitive Method to Overcome Burnout

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an approach that can be used to treat the burnout symptoms if it is diagnosed at some early phase. If the burnout is severe with some adverse effects, it is not enough for dramatic panic attacks.

Consulting A Therapist Or A Psychiatrist

Sometimes consulting a therapist or a physiatrist is all you need during your burnout. Keep in mind that a psychologist or a therapist cannot tell you the medicines you need to take, but a psychiatrist or a neurologist can prescribe the medication required to you. You can also find an English speaking psychotherapist for one to one meeting appointment. He will assess the situation and identify your needs to send an application to your health insurance provider. Your insurance provider will approve the application after which you can have sessions for a decided timeframe.

If you have public health insurance, it might be possible that you have to wait for weeks or even months. Here is a genuine tip for you if you have public health insurance. Get the appointment within 14 days on an urgent basis as this is the only offer by public health insurance providers that may save your life. When you discuss the urgency of your case, your insurance provider will assess the case and may offer you the appointment with a specialist within 48 hours after just a phone call. Your psychiatrist will suggest a treatment that might change your life entirely. Have good therapy and counseling sessions to cope with the stress and improve your mental health.

Time Off Work

You must consult a general practitioner if you are not well due to the stressful environment at your office and feeling burnout. Your general practitioner might suggest you time off work for at least one or two weeks. Later on, they will give you another appointment to visit them for the followup to see if any changes are there or not. If your general practitioner thinks that you need more rest, he / she will suggest more time off might be for six months. After that if you still feel unwell, you can ask for another interval of time off until you are fully well to work again.

After six weeks of time off from work, your health insurance will cover the costs of your salary as there is no upper limit for sick days in Germany. The only requirement to submit is your medical certificate. If you have a valid medical certificate, no one can fire you. You will get your salary and your work permit will stay valid. Taking time off is an easy and beneficial step in all aspects. If you quit your job due to burnout, and you are living in Germany with a work permit, you will face issues for your residence.

Other Burnout Remedies If Burnout is not Due to Job

Effective Budgeting

If money issues are bothering you, plan your budget efficiently. It is absolutely correct that money and mental peace go side by side. There are many budgeting tools that you can use to plan and manage your budget and finances.

Welfare Benefits

If you are a low salaried person, get welfare support before you face burnout. Welfare benefits will enable you to pay your debts and bills in time and you will be relaxed.

Role of Employers in Reducing Burnout at Workplace

As the working parameters have changed drastically so the employers must do something in order to minimize the burnout. Employers can help their employees to overcome stress by a number of ways as mentioned below;

  • Employers must make effective communication with the employees.
  • Employers must offer support to the employees if they are experiencing stress and burnout.
  • Employees must get proper education on the topics such as stress management, time management, taking care of mental health, and handling multiple projects at one time without taking pressure.
  • Make a good wellbeing plan for your employees.
  • Do the regular health and safety risk assessment. This assessment is a technique to identify the risk, explore it, and find the ways to remove or reduce it.
  • Employers must praise their employees and promote them when they perform well.
  • Employers should equip their staff and offer them with all the materials and supplies they need for work.

If employers focus on the wellbeing of their employees, their business growth will increase with time due to enhanced productivity and efficiency. When employers are taking care of their employees, they feel less exhausted and stressed as compared to those people who are not focused and taken care of by their employers. They shared that they are happy when they are with their family and their social circle is also well managed. According to the findings, only 29% of Germans reported that their employers are careful for their mental health and wellbeing.

Cost of Treating Burnout

Before you get worried about the cost of becoming symptom free from burnout, do contact your health insurance provider. Most of the time, your public health insurance does cover the major costs or all costs in some scenarios. Cost of burnout treatment depends on the case and time when the burnout is diagnosed.

  • Early diagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Late diagnosis

Let us discuss each scenario now.

Early Diagnosis

If the burnout is diagnosed at an early phase, the mental illness is comparatively less. Burnout is easy to manage and treat at this stage. To reduce the burnout consequences, 10 hours therapy is required if burnout is diagnosed well in time. The cost is 700 Euros per employee with 5 days sick leave. Workload is also reduced for the first year up to 5%.

Delayed Diagnosis

If burnout is diagnosed at the later stage, stress level and the mental illness is a bit high. Burnout cost for employers is around 2300 Euros with 15 days sick leave. Workload is also required to decrease up to 25% in the first year and 10% reduction in the first 2 to 3 years after diagnosis. Treatment at this stage is usually medication, psychotherapy, and specialist's visit.

Late Diagnosis

If the burnout is diagnosed late, the consequences of burnout are severe. The cost is around 31000 Euros along with 200 days of sick leave. Once it is diagnosed, the work performance decreases up to 100% during the first year and 25% to 30% during 2 to 3 years. Treatment might include hospital stay, loss of work, long term medication, psychotherapy, counseling sessions, and rehabilitation.

Resigning and Quitting The Job

If sick leave, time off work, and counseling is not supporting you to reduce burnout and your health and mental well being is at stake, you might need to take your final decision. The major but final decision must be about quitting the job as nothing is more important than your physical and mental health. It is well said that life is worth more than the whole world. According to the survey on quitting the job in Germany, 20% women resigned from their jobs due to burnout. 9% people reported that their employment is terminated due to mental illness.

Your doctor or practitioner can suggest you resign but in other cases you can request your doctor to issue you a letter of recommendation. This letter will explain that your resignation is necessary to preserve your physical and mental health and leaving the job is entirely due to health reasons. This recommendation letter will allow you to resign without any three months period notice which is called termination of job on the medical grounds.

There are some general requirements along with this letter of recommendation. You need to show that you have tried to discuss and resolve the matter with your employer and the resignation is not the first step. Make a good note of the meeting with whom you shared the problem, what solutions did you discuss, when you had the meeting to stay employed, and what was the meeting conclusion.

What If You Do Not Find A Doctor Willing To Write The Letter of Recommendation?

If you are unable to find a doctor who can provide you the letter of recommendation to quit the job, or a three month block on the unemployment benefit is compulsory, your insurance and pension contribution will be covered during these three months. To get this support, you must register yourself with the employment agency in Germany.

Concluding Remarks

So, burnout is very critical both for employees and employers. Employee's wellbeing should be considered by the employers as they can contribute in a number of ways as mentioned above. Cost of treating burnout is usually covered by the health insurance provider and the social benefits. If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms mentioned in this article, you must consult the doctor or a general practitioner to see if you are going through the early phase of burnout. It is good to diagnose it at the early stage so your physical and mental health stay out of huge risk and major consequences. Try to manage your time, have quality time with friends and family, and do not forget to entertain yourself when it is a hectic office day. Take very good care of yourself. Cheers!

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