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Burnout in the Workplace: Causes and Preventive Care

Burnout in the Workplace: Causes and Preventive Care

Learn the signs and symptoms of burnout in the workplace, discover reasons why it happens, and learn how to create a culture that addresses and prevents it.

Sometimes, you reach a point in your career where you feel exhausted, and you stop being able to perform at the same level that you once did.

Maybe it's because of overwhelming expectations placed on your shoulders leading to work-related stress, or maybe you just don't feel you're being recognized for the work that you're doing.

Either way, you're stuck, exhausted, and don't know exactly how to get yourself out of the situation.

This feeling is called burnout, and it's common for professionals to experience periods of burnout in the workplace.

If you neglect the feelings of burnout you’re experiencing, your physical and mental health may suffer, which may affect your personal life and well-being.

In this article, we will address:

  • What is workplace burnout?
  • Types of burnout
  • Symptoms
  • How to prevent and treat workplace burnout

It's best to have a mentor in your life to help you go in the direction to go. If you're experiencing exhaustion or burnout, speaking with a career counselor from Enhancv can provide help for you to mitigate job stress, and ultimately help you to chat about your experiences.

What is a workplace burnout?

In our culture, we idolize people who overwork themselves, and we look up to those who sacrifice work/life balance to build a career. Some of the most popular celebrity CEOs are those who don't show signs of physical exhaustion and continue to work nonstop well into the early morning.

But that work schedule isn't for everyone, and only certain professionals with distinct personality traits thrive in that environment. Heavy workloads and stress can contribute to energy depletion and burnout.

Burnout is the point at which you hit a wall, and feel totally overwhelmed with the tasks and duties that you're being asked to complete. If left unchecked, job burnout can lead to anxiety and depression, and even lead to employees resigning from their position.

Signs of burnout

At the beginning of any job, there is a honeymoon stage, where you feel engaged by challenging work and excited to go to work every day.

But, slowly over time, you may experience unfair treatment, work/life imbalance, late working hours, or excessive job demands. These affect your physical health and mental well-being, and lead to chronic workplace stress.

Someone suffering from burnout syndrome can only go so long feeling the effects of burnout without showing signs to colleagues. In many ways, you feel like a rubber band which has been stretched to the breaking point, and those cracks can start to show when you're asked to cope with dysfunctional workplace dynamics.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), workplace burnout is an occupational phenomenon, in which an employee feels:

  • Exhaustion and energy depletion
  • Physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Lack of belief in abilities
  • Lack of motivation
  • Cynicism for their work
  • Reduced professional efficacy
  • Increased mental distance
  • Anger or irritability

Absenteeism and presenteeism

Some workers who experience burnout may exhibit "presenteeism", where they are just going through the motions, getting the minimal amount of work done. Others may exhibit "absenteeism", needing to take time off work for stress leave. Both presenteeism and absenteeism can lead to loss of productivity and a decrease of morale in the workplace.

Physical health effects:

If left untreated, physical or emotional exhaustion can lead to a higher risk of:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • type II diabetes
  • mental health issues
  • Other health conditions

Causes of job burnout in the workplace

There are many causes for workplace burnout, and most have to do with stress caused by dysfunctional workplace dynamics.

According to an interview in the McKinsey Group, Jennifer Moss, the author of _Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It, _states that burnout is a combination of workplace stress and a lack of personal care. Below, you can find the common causes of workplace burnout:

Heavy workload

In that same interview, Moss mentions some companies place high workloads on their employees’ shoulders, causing them to burnout from the added stress. However, those same companies may offer one week to burned out employees, even though the workplace debt, the uncompleted work from that week off, will still be waiting for them when they come back.

This can cause a repeated cycle of stress and burnout, increasing each time the employees return to the workplace.

Feeling little control in the office

Employee well-being may be significantly hampered when they feel like they don't have control over the situations that they're in. For example, if they feel like they have no opportunity to say no to their manager, employees may feel trapped, that the only way to continue in their role is to give in.

If you'd like to learn more about how to be more persuasive in the office, check out: 8 Persuasion Techniques to Change Anyone's Mind.

Struggling in a dysfunctional workplace culture

Another one of the causes of burnout is dealing with bullying and gossip within the workplace. Dealing with the office bully can feel overwhelming, especially if bullying is coming from your manager.

Types of Burnout

"Can't say no" burnout

If you're anything like me, you have a hard time saying no to the requests of other people. Maybe you feel you can't opt out of extra work, which forces you to take on more work tasks than you might handle.

Eventually, your to-do list gets packed full of extra work, causing you to feel overwhelmed and unable to complete all the tasks within working time. You may choose to complete some tasks outside of work.

Low engagement burnout

For those employees who have a low engagement in their work, they may feel under stimulated and unchallenged. This can lead an employee to become cynical and apathetic with the work that they're doing.

This type of burnout may be more difficult to assess, as you may feel supported in your workplace, but you just don't feel that you're growing in your work or advancing your career.

Low recognition burnout

You may also experience burnout if you aren't receiving recognition for the work that you're completing. You may feel exasperated with your manager, like there's no point in continuing to work as hard as you are if you won't receive praise for what you're doing. This may be especially true if you work in a job that is very demanding, where you may be forced to work outside of office hours.

How to prevent and treat burnout in the workplace

Although burnout may be a major epidemic within the workforce, there are lots of different strategies that you can do to prevent job burnout and treat it, whether for yourself or your colleagues.

Preventing workplace burnout

You can almost reverse engineer the causes of workplace burnout to find solutions to prevent it from occurring. Low self-esteem can cause feelings which allow you to spiral, creating anxiety and stress from certain situations.

If you start experiencing job burnout because you're feeling inadequate in your role, set up a weekly meeting with either your manager or an HR representative so that you can better understand the expectations for your role. Maybe create a professional development plan with your employer. This may be an opportunity to gain an understanding of your own personal strengths, and how you can apply them to the position.

If you're beginning to see the early signs of boredom at work, try to find creative outlets within your work or through outside hobbies. Create a personal self growth plan to discover how to create greater work/life balance. You don't need to gain all your self-worth and self-esteem from the work that you do, and instead proper self-care can allow you to avoid burnout.

One's job is not the sum total of who they are. In fact, your personal life plays a huge role in who you are and can help you lead a life lived to the fullest.

Treating burnout in the workplace

The first thing that a manager can do to support employees is to recognize burnout. Once you see the early warning signs of burnout, what the issues are and the experiences that have caused burnout, work to address it.

Next, depending on the severity, if you or someone you know is experiencing burnout you should speak with a mental health professional. Severe emotional and physical exhaustion can lead to negative consequences, like mental health issues.

Employee burnout is a common thing, but it really shouldn't be.

You have an opportunity to take your personal well-being into your own hands. And if the stress can't be successfully managed or if you're unable to reduce burnout, it may be an opportunity for you to look for a new job.

Consider this as one of your greatest challenges, and what matters most is how you handle it. Take care of yourself because you deserve it!

Takeaways

  • Burnout results from low recognition, a heavy workload, and a dysfunctional workplace environment.
  • You can prevent workplace burnout by redefining your manager's expectations for your role.
  • Treating burnout in the workplace may involve a combination of social support and treatment from a mental health professional.

If you're experiencing work burnout and looking to make a change in your career, speak to a career counselor at Enhancv. They can help you identify a job that suits you, prepare you for an interview, and help you land that dream job.

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Dave Van Kooten
Is a human resource expert that helps passionate jobseekers to put their best foot forward to prepare for an interview. He believes that success can be achieved through going out of your comfort zone.