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Le blogue de Solutions & Co.

Le blogue de Solutions & Co.

Burn-Out, Bore-Out and Brown-Out – Demystifying Modern Work Afflictions

The last decades have seen workers overwhelmed by all kinds of mental health issues, disconcerting afflictions that slowly consumed them engulfing them in a state of suffering and distress resulting in exhaustion.Burn-out, Bore-out or Brown-out are forms of professional exhaustion, each deriving from different factors. However, the symptoms are often similar and presenting themselves deviously in many ways— absenteeism, presenteeism, depression, a loss of self-esteem, anxiety, fatigue, trouble sleeping, irritability, aggression, lack of concentration, memory loss, emotional exhaustion, emotional detachment, loss of self-efficacy, demotivation, sadness, etc… These are all symptoms of a malaise that can have serious consequences in all areas of your life, not just the professional sphere.These conditions are becoming increasingly prevalent at an alarming rate. According to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, it is the number one reason for extended leaves of absence from work and it continues to be on the rise. Work is becoming something that must be endured rather than a form of fulfillment.

Burnout: The work-exhaustion syndrome

The phenomenon of occupational pathologies began in industrialized countries with the "burn-out", which is a manifestation of a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion resulting from overly demanding work situations.Stress can be triggered by a new or unforeseen circumstance, feeling a lack of control or a threatening or destabilizing situation. Stress is a physical reaction that puts the body on alert when in danger. The modern work experience is constantly changing and demands are incessant. This generates an elevated level of stress that can become chronic. While you are in a continued state of urgency, your defence mechanisms are functioning without respite and your body ends up exhausted. This fatigue will have an impact on your morale and emotional exhaustion will add to physical exhaustion. To burn out, actually means “to burn internally, to consume oneself”.This phenomenon falls into the category of adjustment disorders, regardless of the sources of stress at work. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared in May 2019 that burn-out is now an “occupational phenomenon” describing it as “a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. It is characterised by three elements: “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion”, “feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job” and “reduced professional efficacy”. Tasks, situations, or people through excessive responsibility, a lack of autonomy, loss of memory or poor communication can create a sense of helplessness or fatigue. It creates an imbalance between the mounting pressure and the depleting resources (interior and exterior, perceived or real) that are needed to confront it. It is the manifestation of your vulnerability and difficulty to adapt to situations. Even in identical working conditions, we all react differently depending on the resources and tools available to us. 

Bore-out: The work-boredom syndrome

Bore-out, also known as occupational exhaustion syndrome caused by boredom at work, seems to be the opposite of burn-out, yet it also leads to psychological suffering. It affects people experiencing dissatisfaction with their professional path who do not have enough tasks to perform or challenges to overcome.It is a psychological condition that is found among employees with a certain level of education and skill-set but who perform a job devaluing their knowledge and experience. The minutes and the hours seem like an eternity in these situations. You ask for more work to avoid twiddling your thumbs, you start to work slower or stretch out tasks to avoid being paid for doing nothing. You invent work, which reinforces the feeling that your presence at work is not essential. It’s a situation that does not provide any intellectual stimulation, it is very demoralising and paradoxically, very stressful. It is “bore-out”.Several causes can explain this phenomenon, sometimes it is due to a restructuring of jobs, an inadequate delegation of tasks, or entry-level jobs consisting of easy or elementary duties. It results in an insufficient number of tasks to fill the work week and work days without challenge or interest to the employee. Every day becomes unbearable and it can lead to a sense of self-devaluation which could carry heavy psychological consequences.For some, work doesn’t necessarily need to be a source of fulfillment and they can accept this type of professional situation without it being too harmful. However, for others, doing a job where there is nothing to do can be tortuous. Their work becomes a golden cage. Sometimes working conditions are really good or financial security is so attractive that they wouldn’t dare leave for other challenges.

Brownout: The withdrawal-from-work syndrome

Although it is lesser known than “burn-out” or “bore-out”, “brown-out” is no less a danger to workers. It is the manifestation of professional exhaustion caused by a lack of motivation where you do not understand the point or use of your work.“Brown-out” literally means “a decrease in current” – the discomfort felt as a result of the loss of meaning in the objectives of one’s work. It is a condition that describes a decrease in a worker’s commitment resulting from a loss of meaning at work, a lack of understanding of the “why” in their mission and a lack of perspective regarding their duties.Without a purpose and a common thread, work becomes useless, futile and discouraging, driving a sort of disillusionment or disenchantment. People suffering from “brown-out” mentally resign from their job and work without really worrying about the quality they produce. These people are looking for work with meaning. In a context where everyday tasks lose meaning, one is alert and capable but completely unmotivated and disengaged.Therefore, a loss of motivation is the number one symptom of “brown-out”. You drag your feet, you divest yourself, meetings are mundane, there is a loss of attention, you have no interest in what you are doing, you lose your sense of humour, you cave into yourself. Even your family and social life can be affected by professional disinterest.The French sociologist and philosopher Edgar Morin explains this feeling well by saying, “meaning at work is often never as essential as when it is missing”.

How do we fix it?

With the growing prevalence and the important impact of mental health problems in the workplace, we cannot merely continue to suffer. To fight against this nuisance, you must take a step back and identify the causes of these conditions. You must go back to the source and make sure you do not solely react to the symptoms. Difficult times at work are opportunities to analyse your professional goals. Every individual has a responsibility to be conscious of their discomfort and to question themselves honestly, without shame, and without denial:
  • What defines my problems at work?
  • What bothers me and creates a feeling of discomfort?
  • To what (or to whom) do I attribute this discomfort?
  • Is this discomfort related to the nature of the task? To the workload? To the business sector? To the mission?
  • What does this situation reveal about my needs, my interests, my values and my professional ideals?
However, workplace stress is not solely the responsibility of the individual. Organizations cannot remain mere observers and point their finger in judgement. It is necessary that organizations empathize, engage in dialogue and create better wellness conditions. Once the correct diagnosis is made, one must question the criteria allowing to improve the situation:
  • Different divisions of tasks?
  • Proper tooling?
  • Professional development and training?
  • A new role or function?
  • Support?
  • Skills assessment?
  • Recognition?
  • More autonomy?
  • New challenges?
  • A career change?
  • Share the vision with conviction? The mission? The values? The culture?
Organizations have everything to gain by finding solutions. It is desirable that these solutions can be found within the organization, otherwise, the risk is that some workers will find another job elsewhere, change their profession, start their own business or worse, suffer through their current job.
  88 lectures
88 lectures

Communication Isn’t What We Say – It’s What the Other Person Understands

Communication is a complex process. Speaking well or forming good arguments is not sufficient to be a good communicator. In order to explain the complexity of communication, I often use the example of the "phone game" (formerly the Arabic phone game). The idea of the game is simple: participants take turns whispering a sentence from one to the next. The objective of the game is to get the message across without distorting it along the way, but part of the fun is that it usually ends up becoming distorted. Errors accumulate as each person transmits the message along, so that the sentence spoken aloud by the last player differs significantly from that of the first player, usually with a fun or humorous effect. This game is exceptionally effective to demonstrate how communication in action can deteriorate.

Communication is by its nature a source of unintended ambiguities and distortions. Although this is amusing when you play this game, it is less amusing when this distortion occurs during more serious exchanges, or even during professional communications. How many times have we been certain of what we have said, yet so surprised when we realize how the receiver has understood or interpreted our words? Your own experiences have probably taught you that even though you have transmitted a message, it is not always correctly interpreted.

Communicating is not just an exchange of information; it is conveying a message to another person (or group) in order to be understood. Communicare in Latin means to share, to exchange, to consult one another, to confer, to participate means to get into contact with another person.

This cannot be done alone, as an interaction is necessary. Any interaction implies that our own frame of reference is related to that of the receiver, since their own frame of reference contributes to the communicated message’s meaning. As stated by Timm (1980), in order to create ideal conditions for communication, it is important to remember that "We must expect to be misunderstood by at least some of our receivers and we must expect to misunderstand others; we can try to reduce misunderstanding, but we can never eliminate it altogether. When we anticipate that we will not be properly understood, we are more attentive to clarifying and listening. When we recognize the impossibility of eliminating all misunderstanding and anticipating all the reactions, we recognize the reality ".

Interferences hinder the communication process and is a source of distortions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations, which are barriers to effective communication. Several kinds of interference can occur at the various stages of the communication process. For example:

  • Differences in the frame of reference (language, age, culture, education, experience, social environment, habits, etc.)
  • When the message is too long or too dense, the information is difficult to retain
  • Physical interference (noisy environments, distractions, interruptions, etc.)
  • The receiver’s internal state (emotions, attitudes, values, etc.) or the presence of observers who can interfere. They produce "snags" or intellectual paralysis linked to stress
  • Mental distractions such as preoccupations with other topics or preparing an answer instead of listening

But recognizing that communication has its limits does not preclude trying to achieve the best communication possible. Efforts should be made to reduce interference that hinders the transmission of the message. An effective communicator anticipates possible failures in the communication method and the many ways in which the message can be understood.

Communication is based on a series of actions and reactions. Both the receiver and the transmitter are affected by the message’s effects. There may be a significant difference between the message sent and the message received. It is important when communicating to remember that we are not alone in the interaction and that the receiver is an essential component of communication - what we have communicated is not what we have said, but what the other has understood!

  118 lectures
118 lectures

Demonstrating Courtesy and Respect in the Workplace

Do good manners at work really matter? Should you really be expected to be polite all the time, or can you bend the rules in the name of efficiency and productiveness? The answers are yes, yes, and no!

Most people don’t intend to be rude or discourteous. In an attempt to be efficient and productive we sometimes forget to consider the impact of our behaviours on our colleagues. Courtesy and respect towards others should be standard behavior in every workplace, regardless of role, rank, stress or circumstances.

The following actions help ensure a respectful, civil, considerate, professional workplace. These might all be evident behaviours for you, but for those that have forgotten …here is a work etiquette 101 crash course:

  • Be cordial – Greet people when you arrive, when you leave, when you pass in the hall or when you encounter them in the elevator. A simple "Good morning", "Hello", "Goodbye" or "Goodnight” will do. Look them in the eye. Make an effort to exchange polite conversation and shake hands when you're introduced to someone. You don’t have to get into a long conversation, but simply acknowledge that a person exists.
  • Be polite – Hold doors (even the elevator) for people. If you're asking for something, or asking someone to do something, say "please." If someone does something for you, or gives you something, say "thank you." Say "Excuse me." if you want someone to get out of your way, if you bump into someone, if you walk between two people having a conversation, or if you need to interrupt a conversation.
  • Be tactful – Avoid being blunt. Say "I'm sorry" if you intentionally or unintentionally hurt someone. Sometimes we are rude or grumpy when we are tired, rushed or having a bad day, and then when we realize we have made a mistake, we are too embarrassed to apologize and we just continue on as though nothing has happened. Don't do that. Take a moment to own up and make verbal amends. Don’t mock or belittle colleagues, not tell offensive jokes that sting.
  • Be considerate – Respect personal space and belongings, don't help yourself to things that aren't yours. Don't barge into someone’s workspace without knocking or announcing yourself, and don't interrupt when other people are having a private conversation. Clean up after yourself. Wipe crumbs from the counter and splatters from the microwave. Replace the ink cartridge, clear the paper jam or fill the paper tray if you are the last one using the printer. Make a fresh pot of coffee if you poured the last cup. Leave the conference room clean when you leave.
  • Be thoughtful – Acknowledge remembrances and celebrations (Birthdays, anniversaries) and be attentive to a colleague’s state of mind and health (Sickness, condolences, personal challenges).
  • Be inclusive – Avoid forming cliques that might exclude people, giving colleagues the silent treatment or speaking to people in a condescending way. Those are forms of bullying. Encourage healthy relationships in the office.
  • Be attentive – Don't check your phone in meetings or when someone is talking to you, not even a peek from time to time. Look at the person who is talking to you, stop texting or typing on the keyboard and turn away from your computer screen. Pay full attention to the person in front of you.
  • Be punctual – Demonstrate professional courtesy by showing up on time and respecting deadlines. Being late sends the message that you don’t have respect for other people's time or schedules.
  • Be neat – Your work, workspace and your appearance should always be orderly. Being untidy, cluttered and unkept sends a message that you don't really care how you look or whether it brings down the professional image of the office.
  • Be discreet – Keep your voice down and your personal phone calls private and wear headphones if you're playing music at work. If you have an open-space set-up don’t have calls on speaker phone. Be a good neighbor!
  • Be gracious – Listen more than you speak. Pay attention when co-workers are talking to you. Don't interrupt people when they're speaking. Let them finish. If you must interrupt, say "excuse me," or if you catch yourself after the fact, say "Sorry for interrupting you." Don’t make personal remarks about someone’s appearance or clothing. Keep judgmental or nasty comments to yourself and avoid gossiping and talking behind someone's back. Sharing credit, humbling asking questions, acknowledging others and smiling all have positive impacts and demonstrate civility.
  • Be decent – Leave the personal grooming for home. Don’t floss, clean your ears, give yourself a manicure, put on make-up or clip your nails at the office. Personal grooming should be done at home or at least in the bathroom.

Demonstrating workplace courtesies, it’s not about simply being nice, it’s about the effect you have on your colleagues and your workplace. Incivility makes people less motivated and decreases work performance whether you are the one experiencing the incivility or witnessing it. Being unaware or uncaring of your behaviour will eventually create an unproductive, toxic and hostile environment. There's no excuse for discourtesy in the workplace. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “there is always enough time to be courteous.” Take the time. Be mindful of it. The results — a productive, pleasant, creative, helpful, happy and healthy workplace for everyone.

  117 lectures
Mots-clés :
117 lectures

Open Office Environment: How to Make it Work

There is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of open offices. Some research indicates they are a playground for collaboration, innovation, creativity and camaraderie where ideas flow and problems get solved quickly. On the other hand, newer studies suggest that open offices are a distracting environment, detrimental to productivity and a source of stress, conflict, and turnover. More than ever people in open office environments seem to avoid one another, isolating themselves and using instant messaging or email to interact.

The open office environment began with good intentions, but it is full of distractions and can become a daytime nightmare. People talking while you are on the phone, noisy background when you need to focus, co-workers having loud conversations, people laughing, coughing, screaming, cell phones constantly chirping … Staying focused in a noisy open office is a real challenge.

As companies increasingly adopt an open layout, it is important to develop survival strategies in order to stay productive while avoiding tensions. Here are some suggestions:

Have a team talk

Have a conversation with your manager and your team about how you can all work optimally in an open office. Define together some “agreed-upon” rules and norms.  For example:

  • When one colleague is on the phone, the rest will speak with a low voice.
  • When the phone rings, the conversation stops.
  • Speakerphone conversations should be done in conference rooms.
  • Moving to a different environment when sharing and collaborating.
  • Establish a “earbud code” to signify the level of focus.
  • Use "Library Rules".

Have dedicated "Quiet" Space

Once in a while it’s good to get away to a quiet place within your workspace. Quiet rooms have grown so popular, some companies incorporate dedicated "Private work rooms" within their office layout. While empty conference rooms make for a great quiet space, they are not always available.  Investigate and identify private spaces in your office where you can isolate yourself, to be alone and silent, somewhere you can think and focus free of distraction.

Have a dedicated "Collaboration" Space

When it’s time to collaborate or brainstorm, moving to a different environment can help shift gears. Delegate a larger central “community” table where conversation and ideas can flow freely. And encourage co-workers to go there when chatter amongst neighboring desks begins.

Create a “Virtual Wall”

Use signs and signals —If you frequently require uninterrupted periods of time with which to complete your work, consider making some kind of sign or signal that serve as a visual cue to your colleagues that you’re not to be disturbed unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Purchase a set of noise-canceling headphones – for those times when you are working on something that requires concentration. You can listen to white noise or classical music or whatever it is that helps you feel and perform at your best. The best sounds for concentration are natural and unpredictable. Ambient electronic music tends to work well at blocking out noise yet it doesn’t create a distraction.

Use a common code for headphones – Earphones serve as a visual cue to your colleagues so they do not bother you unless absolutely necessary. Have a common "code" that symbolizes the unavailability.


  • Two earpieces mean "Leave me alone. I'm focusing. "
  • Only one earpiece means "Ask before interrupting me. "
  • Without earphones means "You can interrupt me"

 Reserve a “Do Not Disturb” block of time

Trying to get things done and simultaneously be available for others imposes a heavy “cognitive load”. To counteract this, set aside a block of time every day when you’re not to be disturbed so you can concentrate on your work without distraction and focus on your top priorities. You can go to the "Quiet" space or put on your headphones. You can collaborate with and help colleagues during the rest of the day.

Be green

Well-placed plants have proven effective in reducing noise levels in an open office setting. The larger the plant, the bigger the impact - not to mention the appeasing benefits and overall impact on air quality.

Raise the issue with tact

When the “agreed-upon” rules and norms are not followed don’t suffer in silence, but don’t snap by screaming “Can you just shut up” either, try a gentle:

  • “Can you take it down a notch please? "
  • "Please keep it down. I know you probably don't realize it, but it's really distracting."
  • "I’m having trouble concentrating while you are talking. I’d be so grateful if you could take the conversation down the hall."

.. most of the time, people don’t realize how loud they’re being, and they'll probably appreciate a gentle reminder. Do it with a smile, and in just about every occasion, no one will get offended. Be direct and diplomatic, but never attack someone personally.

Encourage a compromise

This doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. If you have tried these suggestions but haven’t gotten the results you were hoping for, you don’t need to hand over your resignation letter. It might be time to start a conversation with your manager about finding a happy medium.  A solution that can improve your productivity while still being part of the team. Maybe doing some of the work remotely, having flexible hours to come in earlier or staying later, or simply moving desks. Finding an alternative might be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.

  212 lectures
212 lectures

Working in a Multicultural Environment

Working in a multicultural environment can be a satisfying and rewarding professional experience. You can broaden your horizons by learning various skills and communicational approaches when you interact with people from other parts of the world. However, working with people from different cultural backgrounds requires a degree of tact and a willingness to learn and to adapt.

There is a wide multitude of cultural differences, ranging from beliefs to cultural norms. People from diverse cultural backgrounds bring personal and professional practices into the work environment that may differ in terms of being socially acceptable. These are neither right nor wrong…only different. Whether you agree with them or not, it is important to understand these differences.

Customers and co-workers come from a variety of backgrounds, and their habits, customs, reasoning, behaviours, values, and communication styles vary according to their background. Our cultural understandings, as well as our prejudices, are challenged by demographic changes that bring us face-to-face with new people and unfamiliar notions.


Cultural awareness is the understanding of the differences between oneself and people from other countries or backgrounds, especially differences in behaviour and values.

Cultural awareness is the very foundation of communication, involving the ability to step back and become aware of our cultural values, beliefs and perceptions. Why do we act this way? How do we see the world? Why do we react in such a way, specifically? Cultural awareness becomes key when we have to interact with people from different cultures.

People see, interpret and evaluate things differently. What is considered appropriate behaviour for one culture is often inappropriate for another. Misunderstandings occur when a person uses their own frame of reference when trying to understand another person’s reality.


Cultural skills refer to the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures and to successfully manage intercultural situations. It is the on-going process of seeking cultural awareness, knowledge and skills that will enable you to respond to people from different cultures in a respectful and effective way, so that their value is recognized, affirmed and valued.

Lack of multicultural knowledge can lead to misinterpretation, misunderstanding or even involuntary insult. Skills such as cultural awareness, flexibility and effective communication are essential to manage the expectations of people from different cultures. The more you understand culture, the more successful you will be in a wide variety of interpersonal interactions.

Our modern workspace is very multicultural, multilingual, intergenerational, etc. It requires the ability to see different perspectives, in order to make the best decisions and to create an inclusive system that enables everyone to be successful in the workplace.

Communicating with different cultures can sometimes be challenging. When we are dealing with people from unfamiliar cultures, it is easy to misinterpret meanings and intentions. This can lead to confusion, discontent and frustration. For communication to be effective, one person must understand the other person’s meaning and intent. The skills associated with effective and successful intercultural communication may seem vague to anyone lacking experience in this form of interaction.

The more you understand the influence of culture, the more effective communication will be.

  579 lectures
579 lectures

Les participants le disent…

« Vraiment une formation extraordinaire, et habituellement, je suis très critique! Tout le personnel devrait suivre cette formation, il y aurait un gain d’efficacité! »

Ville de Québec

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…et nos clients aussi!

« C’est avec un grand professionnalisme que l’entreprise a offert une formation attrayante et de qualité à nos employés. Nous sommes particulièrement satisfaits des résultats obtenus grâce à cette intervention et il nous fera plaisir de retravailler avec Solutions & Co. dans l’avenir. »

Xavier Aymé, Chef des opérations | Mercator Canada Inc.

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