A terrifying 120,000 workers die every year from workplace stress and/or depression, but fortunately, there are signs of working burnout.
Gallup cites that 70% of all workers lost their spark of passion for their job at some point in their career—at some time, their job stopped being the reason they got up every morning. Workers expect as one might assume, their bosses to be leaders in motivation (55% of workers want their bosses to lead the way in motivation) but just 11% of bosses see it as their job to be the driving force of motivation in the office. This mismatch in vision leads to low morale. Low morale inevitably leads to chronic stress and frustration. Employees feel exhausted not just physically but also mentally. They feel like cogs in the corporate machine and feel cynical about their effectiveness as employees.
Burnout is defined as when someone is unable to function personally and professionally. In some companies, this will lead to bad results, or maybe some files will get misplaced. In other places, like healthcare, or any area where employees work with clients one-on-one, burnout can have disastrous consequences, with employees lashing out, perhaps even at clients. They may make crucial errors, or they may be unprofessional, but the key is they are unreliable because they are not able to function as they should because they are burnt-out.
What if you are the person who is experiencing burnout, or if this sounds like a close colleague of yours and you want to advise on a nonjudgmental way? There are things you can do now that may help you break out of burnout.
1. Make a list of all the things you no longer enjoy in your career.
a. Identify which are things you can change immediately and break them down into SMART goals (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound goals)
2. Get involved. Burnout often leads to isolation, so make sure you are attending the company picnics and mixers. Get to know your colleagues.
3. Get out of your routine. Can you work at home once a week? Go to a conference out of town? Can you mentor someone, or maybe you need a mentor?
4. Be proactive about your self-care routine. Sleep hygiene and eating healthy are extremely important. Also, maintain a work-life balance above all else.
5. Do not check your work email on weekends. It can wait. Also, take a vacation when you can, and do not check your email.
6. Once you get help with your own burnout, learn to recognize it in others. You can help your friends and colleagues by changing the culture, even if it is just in your office.
Remember, work is essential, but working until you are burnt-out is not going to garner better results. It will make your health suffer as well as your work because no one can concentrate when they are not functioning. Learn to recognize the signs of burnout and remember to take a step back if you feel you are experiencing them.