François Baumann’s book entitled “The Brown-Out: When work no longer has any meaning”, released in bookstores gives us some keys to better understand suffering at work. New malaise in the professional environment, it reflects the loss of motivation at work. Although it mainly affects the tertiary sector, where innovation tends to reduce the tasks of workers, the phenomenon is spreading more and more among companies. But then, how to detect it and above all, to avoid it?
What is the brown-out?
We already knew the Burnout, otherwise known as “burnout syndrome”, characterized by excess investment in the business environment. There is also the bore-out, a syndrome related to boredom at work. The latter can affect employees whose professional tasks, very few, lead to boredom and psychological pathologies. The brown-out, meanwhile, was conceptualized by André Spicer and Mats Alvesson in a book entitled “The Stupidity Paradox”, in 2016, making us discover a new pathology in “-out”.
Concretely, the brown-out indicates a disillusion for the employee vis-a-vis his job and the absurdity of the tasks requested. The latter then no longer finds himself in his profession, finds it “absurd” and without interest. This psychological state can lead to depression and serious mental disorders. The author of the book on brown-out, François Baumann, defines this pathology as ” a drop in tension and attention at work, a sudden awareness of the absurdity of his job that paralyzes “. Being able to affect one or more of your employees, the challenge remains, in the first place, to know how to identify it.
How to recognize this new pathology?
Different from burn-out, brown-out is more difficult to spot, as employees are still able to work. This syndrome does not manifest itself in a characterized manner on the physical or psychological level. To detect it, you have to be attentive in order to know if the employees feel useful in the company and if they think that their work has a meaning. In recent years, this pathology is all the more present because of what are called “stupid jobs”, theorized by the American anthropologist David Graeber. This theory is simply to denounce the professions which, turned upside down by innovation and its new technologies, lack meaning. Only 5% of employees say they are “highly committed and very satisfied with their work”, according to a study by Ipsos (a French survey company) for Steelcase in 2016.
The brown-out would be more frequent in the tertiary sector, where work is often carried out in offices, on optimized software. For good reason, the employee feels dependent on the machine and alienated. To recognize the symptoms, it is important to pay attention to the motivation of its employees and their level of investment in the business. The most basic characteristic symptom is a drop in self-esteem: the employee no longer has confidence in himself, loses all esteem for his work.
What can be done to avoid it?
In the workplace, to avoid brownouts, your employees must feel comfortable and recognized for their work. To achieve this, do not hesitate to congratulate your employees for the tasks accomplished. To remedy the sense of “emptiness” that brownouts get, kids need to be encouraged to do fun things. Work must be accompanied by leisure and make employees want to get involved. Organizing company events or meals between employees can lead to a spirit of cohesion and bring positive elements into daily professional life. What to find a little enthusiasm at the idea of going to work. If your employees have a concrete objective such as a promotion, they will be able to project themselves all the more into their professional and personal life. Another example, adjusting work schedules to suit personal needs can help your employees feel better understood.
As you will have understood, the brown-out can be inevitable for both employees and employers. Better to avoid it at all costs. Trying to bring interest to the most insignificant tasks and help to revalue them sometimes unblocks the situation. If it is already too late and one of your employees is in the middle of a brown-out, you can call on a professional (psychologist, coordinator, etc.). He can then travel to take stock with your employees and allow them to find meaning in their work.
Solutions for salary well-being
But the most important thing in the fight against brown-out within a company remains to upgrade its employees and give them moments of relaxation. Investing in recreation or games rooms can allow your employees to perceive their working day as something more attractive. It is not a question of putting them aside and letting them go about their business, but of realizing the problem and trying to solve it.
As an entrepreneur, you can think about improving your workspace. As for team management, an open approach to listening to employees should be favored. An employee who feels attentive will be more able to confide in his situation, which will allow solutions to be considered as soon as possible. Either way, considering a wellness strategy can be beneficial and even allow your business to perform better..