How to Prevent Workplace Burnout.Back to Articles
Workplace Burnout: What you and your employer do to help diminish and prevent workplace burnout.
Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time. It can also involve a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. If left untreated it can lead to serious physical and psychological illnesses such as depression, heart disease and diabetes.
It’s important for individuals to watch out for signs of burnout, so this can be properly addressed, and the negative effects don’t spill over into every area of ones life including home, work, and social life.
Signs of Burnout:
- Reduced performance and productivity
- Anxiety and self-doubt
- Feeling detached/alone in the world
- Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated
- Low mood, exhaustion, and fatigue
- Lack of creativity and difficulty concentrating
- Procrastinating, and taking longer to get things done
- An increasingly cynical outlook on life and work
Common causes of burnout include:
- Unclear job expectations / taking on more than one can handle at work, or interpersonally with family and friends
- Lack of control / Inability to influence decisions affecting ones job
- Lack of adequate social support
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
- Poor self-care
- Work-life imbalance
What can you do as an Employee to tackle your burnout?
Feeling burnt out can often have far-reaching impact, negatively affecting performance, keeping you from enjoying hobbies or time with family and even relaxing outside of work. So, it’s important for you to keep an eye on yourself to try and avoid such feelings of overwhelm.
- Take a break: Depending on the severity of your stress, you may want to take a holiday or sabbatical but for some it might be as simple as taking small breaks during the workday to restock your energy levels.
- Evaluate your options: Discuss specific concerns with your manager. Maybe you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Try to set goals for what must get done and what can wait.
- Seek support: Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.
- Try a relaxing activity: Explore activities that can help with stress such as yoga, meditation, or tai chi.
- Get some exercise: Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress as it reduces the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It stimulates production of endorphins, which act as the body’s natural pain killers and mood elevators. If that’s not enough, working out will certainly be guaranteed to take your mind off work so give it a go.
- Get some sleep: Sleep is a powerful stress reducer; it restores well-being and helps protect your health. Following a regular sleep routine, calms and restores the body which improves concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens judgement and decision making.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment.
What can you do as an Employer to help with Employee burnout?
Employee burnout has a negative impact on an individual as well as the organization they work for by decreasing morale and increasing employee turnover which incurs significant organisational costs. A burnt out employee is more likely to take sick leave, look for new jobs and reduce general productivity of your team. So, it’s important for employers to not only know what can lead to burn out, but to also implement the correct procedures to prevent it.
- Provide greater clarity about career progression: Career progression is a huge incentive for employees to work to the best of their abilities. Providing individuals with clear progression paths and goals to know exactly what they’re working towards increases motivation and reduces negativity when they are exposed to additional stress.
- Promote a better work life balance: An ideal work-life balance looks differently for different people and each individual’s ideal for balancing work and life should be respected and supported. Recognising this, being able to notice when employees have a poor balance and ensuring they get the downtime they require to maintain personal happiness and recharge their batteries can lead to much higher levels of productivity and success amongst employees.
- Provide support: Employee stress can escalate quickly if appropriate levels of support aren’t available, it’s essential that employees feel able to talk about their stresses and anxieties with line managers, colleagues, and HR. If you are unable to offer employee assistance programmes, make sure you can support your employees through other avenues such as regular wellbeing catch-ups and creating an open door policy culture where they feel comfortable to approach you with their stresses.
- Ensure adequate training is provided: To excel in their roles, employees require the correct skills, knowledge and behaviours. While many will be well-qualified when they join your organisation, further development is often required for others, to align their skills and knowledge to the business objectives. Ensuring that adequate training is provided will remove the stresses associated with struggling to fulfil their role duties without the necessary skills.
- Make objectives clear: Without a clear set of objectives, employees are effectively flying blind, lacking purpose and direction. Often when employees work this way, they can fall into the trap of getting stuck in a cycle of working hard at the wrong things, to find their efforts are questioned or go unrecognised and unrewarded. So, it’s key for an employer to communicate the objectives to ensure their employee’s are engaged and not working without a purpose.
Chronic workplace stress aka workplace burnout is on the rise, so ensuring happiness and well-being in the workplace is key to a fruitful career as well as happy and productive employees.
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