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Burnout. Dan Ward [email protected] What is Burnout?. “Burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy .”

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What is burnout
What is Burnout?

“Burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.”

Excerpted from Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W.B., and Leiter, M.P, Annual Review of Psychology, V.52, 2001,pp.397-422

“Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work.”

Excerpted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burnout_(psychology)

  • “the failure of the existential quest”—that moment when we wake up one morning and realize that what we’re doing has appallingly little value.

  • Ayala Pines - Excerpted from http://nymag.com/news/features/24757

  • “the gap between expectation and reward”

  • Alden Cass - Excerpted from http://nymag.com/news/features/24757

Why do we talk about burnout
Why Do We Talk About Burnout?

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire…

  • Burnout has become a high-profile issue in the infosec community

  • @secburnout team raised this issue early on…Security BSides Las Vegas, 2011

    • (McKeay, Corman, Thayer, Yerrid, Shpantzer, Daniel)

    • http://www.slideshare.net/secburnout/burnout-in-information-security

  • …And it continues to be a problem

Why do we talk about burnout1
Why Do We Talk About Burnout?

Early identification is the key to prevention & recovery

  • The personality that excels at information security is also highly susceptible to burnout

  • We’re not exactly a humble or social bunch

    • Symptoms may manifest differently and, therefore, not be recognized.

    • Reaching out for help is difficult

  • You may be more burned out than you realize



Stages of burnout
Stages of Burnout

Employer loves you

Escalation of burnout

  • The Compulsion to Prove Oneself

  • Working Harder

  • Neglecting Needs

  • Displacement of Conflicts

  • Revision of Values

  • Denial of Emerging Problems

  • Withdrawal

  • Obvious Behavioral Changes

  • Depersonalization

  • Inner Emptiness

  • Depression

  • Burnout

Employer tolerates you

Employer acts


Causes of burnout
Causes of Burnout

“Imagine investigating the personality of cucumbers to discover why they had turned into sour pickles without analyzing the vinegar barrels in which they’d been submerged!”

Christine Maslach - Excerpted from http://nymag.com/news/features/24757

  • Working too much

  • Unjust environments

  • Little support

  • Working where you feel unable to effect change

  • Serving values you loath

  • Insufficient reward (whether the currency is money, prestige, or positive feedback)

Infosec burnout survey results
InfoSec Burnout Survey Results

Maslach Burnout Indicator (MBI)

0 – Never

1 – A few times a year or less

2 – Once a month or less

3 – A few times a month

4 – Once a week

5 – A few times a week

6 – Every day

Infosec burnout survey results1
InfoSec Burnout Survey Results

Areas of Worklife Survey (AWS)

1 – Strongly Disagree

2 – Disagree

3 – Hard to Decide

4 – Agree

5 – Strongly Agree

Burnout first aid kit
Burnout “First Aid Kit”

  • Realize there is a problem

  • Determine why there is a problem

    • Start with expectations and commitments

  • Make small changes

    • Can you reset or renegotiate expectations?

    • Can you gracefully rescind commitments?

  • Take care of yourself

    • Sleep

    • Diet

    • Exercise

  • Enforce downtime

  • Find a purpose outside of work

Additional proactive steps
Additional proactive steps

  • What is your “first alert”? (Personal danger signs & triggers)

    • Danger signs: What are your stress habits (eating, drinking, being rude)

    • Triggers: Too many assignments, office politics, comments from co-workers, boss, friends

  • Enlist your own personal EMT crew

    • People you trust to identify your danger zone

    • Give them a list of triage tricks

  • Share your “get-well” plans

    • Asking for help, helps

    • Helping others, also helps

    • Strengthening connections = key

Burnout long term management
Burnout: Long-term Management

Examine things outside of work that may be contributing to stress and burnout

Examine your job role and your career ensuring that they fit your personality and natural talents

Examine your employer and your community to ensure that you share common values

As you discover areas of stress and conflict, start building longer-term plans to resolve them.

As you implement larger changes, check back periodically to make sure things are improving and adjust your plans accordingly

Once you create a more compatible work life, perform burnout self-checks to make sure you don’t recreate the problems that drove you to unhappiness.

For more information
For More Information