Occupational burnout is often the result of becoming mentally overworked, physically exhausted and psychologically stressed. Symptoms include feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, numb, and like you are unable to meet demands and deadlines. If this level of stress and anxiety continues it’s likely you’ll be unable to remember what inspired you to take on the role in the first place. You may have trouble making simple decisions, feel a loss of control and become emotionally disconnected. Most of us have down days. Burnout is different. As yet, there is no concrete medical definition of burnout, which makes it difficult to identify and treat.
The early warning signs of burnout can include:
1. High levels of anxiety or stress
2. Lack of engagement
3. Increased cynicism
4. Loss of appetite
5. Insomnia or feeling as though you can’t get enough sleep
6. Low energy levels
8. Forgetfulness and lack of concentration
9. Feeling like you can’t get any work done no matter how many hours you put in
10. Excessive worry, high level of self-criticism
11. Increased instances of physical illness
12. Feelings of numbness
14. Frequently feeling unwell
15. Outbursts of anger
Methods to overcome burnout in the workplace:
1. Create a fun environment – This includes introducing games and team building activities that ensure every employee bonds and feels happy in the workplace. It’s important to structure your work environment so you feel motivated and have the tools to feel supported and able to succeed in your role.
2. Slow down – The small things such as adjusting your attitude or looking after your health can contribute to feeling more engaged and happy in your work environment. It’s important to take regular breaks during the working day including getting away from your desk to get a glass of water and stretching your legs. Annual leave should be taken and used to recharge your batteries.
3. Be realistic when accepting tasks – Try and take on work that challenges and supports your development and be honest if you think other people’s expectations and demands are unrealistic.
4. Making each employee responsible - It’s good to encourage a ‘see something, say something policy’ in the workplace. This includes encouraging an employee to alert a manager when they suspect a co-worker is beginning to burn out.
5. Allowing side projects – If you feel underchallenged and bored, be proactive and ask your manager to allow time for working on related side projects you feel more passionate about. Creativity is an antidote to burnout, trying something new and fun can help relieve stress.
6. Creating a supportive culture - Ensure the company creates a valuable and supportive culture. This includes leaders modelling supportive behaviour and rewarding employees who exemplify these values.
7. Reasonable working hours - All employees work different hours, some will devote up to an hour for lunch as well as 10 minute breaks throughout the day. Use the time to take a walk, socialise or stretch. It’s important to take regular intervals away from the desk for light relief.
8. Communicating with your team - Clear communication with team members helps to define clear goals, expectations and project deadlines. If you understand what you’re working towards you’re less likely to burn out than if you are toiling in a vacuum. Even large, demanding projects can seem less intimidating when you can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
9. Consider a new role - If you’ve been doing the exact same work for a long time it might be worth asking about trying out a new role. This can include a different sales territory, going on a course or learning a new skill.
10. Get support - Isolation isn’t the best strategy when feeling overwhelmed and burned out. It’s important to turn to friends and family for support – it can be as simple as sharing feelings with another person to relieve stress.
Unfortunately burnout is a common issue in the workplace. It can cause problems for businesses including lower productivity and increased absenteeism. It’s important to remember slowing down and getting support can bring structure to your work environment and contribute to feeling happier, positive and more motivated in the workplace.
Have you introduced any methods of avoiding burnout in the workplace? We’d love to hear from you on LinkedIn or Twitter.