“My job no longer motivates me and it exhausts me physically, mentally and emotionally,” says Sandra, a 40-year-old executive who is looking to turn her career around. She feels she needs another position, other responsibilities or to work for another company. She’s not really clear about what she needs. She just knows that right now she is not satisfied professionally. Organisations are losing talent because they’re not detecting which part of their workforce is affected by what are known as contemporary work syndromes. We delve into what some of these syndromes are.

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Burnout Syndrome

The term burnout is used to refer to a type of chronic work-related stress. It was recognised by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974 in a clinic for addicts and homeless people. It was not the patients who motivated the study of this syndrome though, but the employees of the clinic. Their work was intense and many began to feel demotivated and emotionally drained.


“The term burnout is used to refer to a type of chronic work-related stress. “


Freudenberger defined this alarming new condition as a state of exhaustion caused by prolonged overwork. It implies a response that leads to loss of enthusiasm for work, professional disenchantment or low personal fulfilment.

At the beginning of 2022, the latest revision of the WHO International Classification of Diseases came into force.

It included burnout as a work-related problem. The WHO notes that it is characterised by three dimensions:

* Physical, mental or emotional exhaustion.

* Mental detachment from work or the emergence of negative feelings related to work.

* Reduced efficiency and motivation levels of people.


Imposter syndrome, when you believe you are a fraud at work

As we’ve already seen in this article, the imposter syndrome refers to when a person considers that their success is due more to luck or chance than to their own effort. These are usually people who are very insecure in the work environment, who are never satisfied with what they do or who feel out of place.

Sufferers have the feeling that they never measure up; that they’re not good enough, competent or capable enough; that they’re imposters, frauds.

Researchers believe that up to 89% of people have suffered from this syndrome at some point in their lives, with particular strength when working as a professional.


“Around 89% of people have suffered from impostor syndrome at some point in their lives”.


Ganymede syndrome, slave to a single task

According to Greek mythology, the Greek god Zeus was so taken with the beauty of a young Trojan named Ganymede that he abducted him to keep him at his side on Olympus. There, he granted him the gift of immortality and made him the official cupbearer of the gods, an activity to which he was limited for the rest of his life.

The story serves to give a name to another of the more common and less popular work syndromes, the Ganymede syndrome. It occurs when a person performs the same task over and over again without the possibility to evolve and change jobs. The Ganymede syndrome finds its breeding ground in organisations that don’t allow their employees to grow and develop their full potential because they pigeonhole them in a single task with the justification that they’re good at it and bring benefits to the company.

This constraint due to the prejudices and limitations of superiors ends up frustrating the person concerned, who sees his or her wings and aspirations clipped. Their motivation wanes in the face of the impossibility of learning new things or growing in the company.


Stockholm Syndrome work

Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological experience in which an affective bond develops between hostages and their captors. The hostage is sympathetic to the behaviour of the kidnappers and empathises with them, either during the kidnapping or after release.

In this sense, the Stockholm syndrome at work can be related to a series of attitudes or characteristics present in people who suffer some kind of abuse or mobbing at work, but who don’t want to leave their job.

There are employees who remain silent in the face of violent, aggressive or exploitative attitudes in the workplace. Sometimes they even defend the threatening and harmful behaviour of their colleagues. There may be a number of reasons for this. Fear of losing one’s job is an important factor. So is being ignored or passed over for promotions, bonuses or other benefits. In addition, there are sectors where even today it is thought to be normal for more aggressive organisational cultures to exist where such attitudes are normalised.

Bubble worker syndrome

Bubble worker syndrome refers to the difficulty employees have in disconnecting from their work obligations. It doesn’t matter whether it’s during off hours, weekends or even on their holidays. They can’t help being connected to their digital devices to check their mail, read a report or catch up on something related to their work. It also occurs in people who cannot mentally disconnect from their profession and are constantly thinking of new ideas, solutions or improvements.

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In short, these are people who are unable to separate their professional and personal lives. In this article we recommend some tips to avoid it.


Bubble worker syndrome refers to the difficulty employees have in disconnecting from their work obligations.”


Münchausen’s Syndrome: me, myself and I.

Münchausen’s syndrome is a psychological disorder in which the sufferer causes another person to fall ill in order to get their attention or praise as a caregiver. The idea is to show that they’re indispensable to ensure the person’s well-being. Something similar can happen in the workplace when employees create or exaggerate problems to get credit for solving them.

Münchausen‘s syndrome at work is an occupational illness or injury that leads to very complex and damaging behaviour for the company. In this syndrome, the sufferer maintains an excellent reputation by solving problems that he or she has created.  In other words, he or she surreptitiously generates problems that he or she later solves. It’s a way of demonstrating his usefulness or earning the praise of others.

In short, there’s a wide range of contemporary work syndromes that can affect both the well-being of individuals and the company. Maintaining a healthy organisational culture where people are at the centre is essential to avoid them.