Burnout Prevention. Chances and Opportunities of In-Company Training

Essay, 2020

24 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

List of figures

List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Method and Objective of Research
1.3 Approach
1.3 Scope of Research

2 What is Burnout?
2.1 Definition of Burnout
2.2 Occurance of Burnout in Companies
2.3 Triggers of Burnout
2.4 Prerequisites for Mental Health
2.4.1 Self-Determination Theory
2.4.2 The Three Factors of the Sense of Coherence

3 In-company Training
3.1 Definition
3.2 The Wider Benefits of Learning

4 Opportunities of in-company Training as a preventive measure
4.1 The Correlation between the Benefits of Learning and the Causes of Burnout
4.2 Recommendations for action
4.2.1 Training content
4.2.2 Recommendations for teachers
4.2.3 Forms of Learning

5 Critical Ciscussion of the Results

6 Conclusion


List of figures

Figure 1: Pressure-Resource-Model

Figure 2: Matrix classifying the effects of learning

Figure 3: General benefits

Figure 4: Correlations of the benefits of learning and the causes of burnout

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction

1.1 Problem Definition

Today's professional world is shaped by change, mainly driven by digitalization. This change has a strong impact on job profiles, work tasks and qualification profiles (see BMAS and BMBF 2019, p.2). According to a study by the German Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in 2016, 25 percent of professions requiring social insurance should undergo a job transformation. But profound changes can also be expected for employees in professions that will remain as they are today (see Dengler / Matthes 2018, p.7). The repercussions of this are obvious: Health insurance companies record increased absenteeism due to exhaustion, depression and burnout, as well as an increased prescription volume of medicines used to treat these clinical diagnoses (see Knieps 2019 et al., p. VII).

The future need for action that results from this is to shape the professional world in a way that it will meet the mental needs of people better (BMAS 2019, p.3). Mental health is the prerequisite for an active and fulfilling life as well as successful acting in working life. Therefore, targeted prevention of mental illnesses should be a priority for companies (see Knieps et al. 2019, pp.26). Adult education is one of the key factors here (see Schuller 2013).

1.2 Method and Objective of Research

The work presented examines, how this problem can be countered by the instrument of in-company training. It answers the following research question using scientifically based literature research:

Can in-company training contribute to prevent burnout in companies? If so, how should it be designed?

1.3 Research Design

After justification of the topic, objective and research approach have been clarified in the introduction, the scope of this research is defined, since this subject offers a very broad spectrum. To introduce the topic burnout, a definition of terms based on scientific literature is made. The frequency of occurrence of burnout in companies is documented on the basis of latest reports from major health insurance companies. Then, the triggers of burnout are demonstrated, followed by an examination of the factors influencing mental health in more detail, using the self-determination theory and the three factors of the feeling of coherence.

In chapter three, the term “in-company training” is defined and the benefits of this based on the latest research reports are demonstrated, with a special focus on the so-called “wider benefits of learning”.

In order to present the opportunities of in-company training as a preventive measure against burnout, the findings of its benefits are linked to the triggers of burnout and evaluated. Then recommendations for action are derived.

The next chapter is a critical discussion of the results, in which also the scope of this work is pointed out and possible future research projects are suggested.

This paper is completed with a conclusion that summarizes the most important results.

1.4 Scope and Limitations

Health education in particular, i.e. learning contents dealing with health (Blättner 1998, p.17), such as resilience courses in corporate health-management, are not specifically examined. On a rough level, however, possible learning content is discussed in Chapter 4.2.1.

One form of burnout prevention in companies is "healthy management" (Knieps et al. 2019, p.32). Although this approach can also be pursued through in-company training of managers, it is not in the scope of this work. Only the direct training of the staff and the associated effects are considered.

This work relates to prevention options at the individual level. These can only be fully effective if there are changes at the organizational level (Hedderich 2014, p.10). However, the organizational level is not considered in this work.

More extensive scenarios, such as averting the loss of a job through further training, are not part of the analysis.

2 What is Burnout?

2.1 Definition of Burnout

There is no settled, uniform definition for the term "burnout", just as there is not for the term "stress. It has its origin in social psychology and, despite its high social relevance, burnout has not yet been fully established medically (Hedderich 2014, p.5). The New York psychoanalyst Freudenberger, who was the first to deal with this syndrome due to his own dismay, described the condition as follows:

„`If you have ever seen a building that has been burned out , you know it's a devastating sight. What had once been a throbbing, vital structure is now deserted. Where there had once been activity, there are now only crumbling reminders of energy and life. Some bricks or concrete may be left; some outline of windows. Indeed, the outer shell may seem almost intact. Only if you venture inside will you be struck by the full force of the desolation.As a psychoanalysis, I have seen people burn out just like houses […] their inner resources are consumed as if by fire, leaving a great emptiness inside’” (Freudenberger 1980 cited from Jaggi 2019, p.20).

According to the WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD), burnout is classified as a professional phenomenon and not as a disease. Burnout is considered a syndrome that arises as a result of chronic stress in the workplace. It is characterized by a feeling of exhaustion, increased mental distance from one's own workplace, feelings of negativity or cynicism as well as reduced professional effectiveness (WHO 2019). Although burnout is listed on the ICD and is therefore recognized as a diagnosis, it is rarely used as such by practicing doctors and psychotherapists. Instead, the classic diagnoses such as “stress disorder, adaptation reaction or depression” are more common. It is therefore sensible to include these diagnoses when considering the occurrence of burnout, which also coincides with the procedure of the health insurance companies for statistical evaluation (Dech 2009, para. 13).

2.2 Occurance of Burnout in Companies

Besides a general increase in absenteeism in the past ten years, there is a particularly high increase in the number of absences associated with mental illnesses, as health insurance companies of all kinds report uniformly (see Ausschuss für Arbeitsmedizin 2019, p.5).

According to the latest health report done by Betriebskrankenkasse (company health insurance), mental disorders are the third most common cause of sick days with a share of 15.7 percent, which comes down to three disability days per year for each insured worker. These are the main reasons for inpatient treatment days with an increase of 28 percent in the last ten years (see Knieps et al. 2019, pp.20).

2.3 Triggers of Burnout

As already mentioned in the definition, burnout is caused by chronic stress in the workplace. The factors that cause stress can be very diverse. They are determined by the environment and / or the personality traits of the individual. Environmental factors are external, such as the working atmosphere, the behavior of the supervisor or financial security through the workplace. In this context, personality traits can also be described as internal resources, such as assertiveness, mental vulnerability or resilience (see Jaggi 2019, p.29).

Chronic stress arises when there is a long-term imbalance between resources, both internal and external, and requirements in day-to-day work.

A model that illustrates this interaction very well is the pressure-resource-model (see Figure 1). Because it integrates alternative models from stress research, such as the job demand model, the gratification crisis model and the buffer model of social support, it receives strong scientific recognition (see Knieps et al. 2019, p.27f).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Pressure-Resource-Model (Source: illustration by author, adapted from Knieps et al. 2019)

According to this model, pressure promotes the development of chronic stress, while resources counteract this by balancing pressures and strengthening mental health. This means that chronic stress and the endangerment of mental health can arise from excessive pressure and / or a lack of resources, which can result in burnout (see Knieps et al. 2019, pp.27).

Numerous studies have investigated which working conditions are most likely to cause this imbalance. Above all, this includes "high work intensity, little scope for activity, lack of justice / reward and lack of social support", whereby the low scope of activity outweighs the intensity of work. These factors are also referred to as "classics" of stress research (Knieps et al. 2019, pp.27).

2.4 Prerequisites for Mental Health

As previously stated, chronic stress causes burnout in deficit mental health. In order to shed more light on mental health as a significant factor influencing the occurrence of burnout, the prerequisites for this are presented using two models.

2.4.1 Self-Determination Theory

The self-determination theory is based on human psychological approaches and focuses on motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic (Wandeler et al. 2011, p.424).

It is based on three psychological needs:

- Competence
- Autonomy
- Connection or Relatedness (Deci/Ryan 1993, S.229).

If these needs are satisfied, this promotes self-motivation and mental health. On the other hand, if they are not satisfied, this leads to demotivation and reduced well-being (see Wandeler et al. 2011, p.424).

The self-determination theory is based on the fact that all people have the desire to discover and understand the world and therefore need learning processes to develop their own self (Deci / Ryan 1993, p.235).

2.4.2 The Three Factors of the Sense of Coherence

The concept of the sense of coherence was developed by sociologist Aaron Antonovski as part of his research on salutogenesis ("What keeps people healthy?") (Krause / Mayer 2012, p.9). A person's sense of coherence, in addition to his resources, is decisive for how well he can deal with stressors (see ibid., p.32).

It describes the feeling that life is not predetermined by an inevitable fate, but is shapeable and meaningful. Accordingly, it consists of the following three dimensions:

- Comprehensibility: Life appears predictable and explainable, events and problems are seen in context;
- Manageability: The requirements that have to be met can be solved with the available resources;
- Meaningfulness: Requirements are understood as challenges, goals are perceived as meaningful (Dill/Straus 2010).

A strong sense of coherence is crucial for good mental health. On the other hand, a lack of coherence was observed among members in teams at risk of burnout. Those affected see no meaning in their work and perceive requirements as insurmountable obstacles (Schwarzer 2020, p.89).

In his salutogenetic approach, Antonovski says that "we are all always in the dangerous flow of life" and therefore, symbolically speaking, advocates teaching people to swim instead of rescuing drowning people from the river, as in pathogenetically oriented medicine (Dill / Straus 2010).

3 In-company Training

3.1 Definition

According to the definition made by the Adult Education Survey, in-company training includes all planned and organized training measures that are “fully or partially financed by the employer” (Bilger et al. 2017, p.56). From a company perspective, their aim is to meet the complex and dynamic requirements at the workplace and thus create flexibility in terms of human resources (Severing et al. 2014, pp.2).

The participation rate in in-company training was 49 percent in 2016 (Bilger et al. 2017, p. 60).

3.2 The Wider Benefits of Learning

In order to demonstrate the positive effects of in-company training, research on general adult education is applied, since so far, there has been little research in direct relation to in-company training. Therefore, those results, which are either in-company training or in which the characteristics of the form of training correspond to those of in-company training, were selected, so that it is transferable.

The positive effects of education are very diverse and can hardly be measured completely. However, there has been a growing interest in the topic over the past 20 years, supported above all by the establishment of the Center for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning by the British Ministry of Education and Employment and the work of the BeLL - Benefits of Lifelong Learning research project , which is coordinated by the German Institute for Adult Education (DIE).

The results of a rather broad field study by the Center for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning are used as the basis for this work. 140 adults who took part in various learning opportunities were interviewed biographically (Schuller et al. 2002, pp. 5). The following matrix by Schuller and colleagues serves to illustrate the dynamics of action and to delimit the effects that are relevant in this work (see Figure 2).


Excerpt out of 24 pages


Burnout Prevention. Chances and Opportunities of In-Company Training
University of Kaiserslautern  (Human Ressources)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Burnout, Stress, Wider benefits, Education, in-company Training, betriebliche Weiterbildung, Burnout Prävention, Self-Determination Theory, Sense of Coherence, Antonovski, Salutogenese, workplace, mental health
Quote paper
Judith Schmitt (Author), 2020, Burnout Prevention. Chances and Opportunities of In-Company Training, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/594894


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