Work atmosphere, in recent times, has drastically changed and the competition everywhere is cutthroat. Individuals in a corporate environment are continually faced with new challenges, high work pressure and ever-increasing expectations. And, adding to it, the technology has made work very much portable, blurring the line between personal and professional hours. The treadmills are moving faster and in an attempt to keep up with the pace, the employees are facing a whole new level of exhaustion. This exhaustion, called job burnout, is different from work stress and can be defined as physical or emotional exhaustion which makes people detached, cynical, and unproductive. Burnout is, in fact, a medical condition and research suggests that a lot of people who experience burnout do not believe that their job is the main cause. Job burnout can severely impact one’s mental as well as physical health. It has become a major problem in the modern workplace that not only affects employee health and well-being but also impacts the organizational cost. The cost of burnout to the global economy is $323.4 billion annually and the World Health Organization has predicted a global pandemic with a decade.
Some of the common symptoms of job burnout include:
- Being critical or cynical at work
- No sense of satisfaction from achievements
- Difficulty in concentrating at work
- Being irritable or impatient with customers, clients or co-workers
- No motivation to work and a sense of detachment from others
- Excessive fatigue
- Consistently being unproductive and inefficient
- Seeking unhealthy escapes like using drugs, alcohol or food to feel better
- Changed sleep habits and extreme mood swings
- Unexplained headaches, insomnia or other physical issues
A lot of factors can contribute to job burnout such as lack of control, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, monotonous or chaotic work, unclear work expectations, lack of social support, lack of appreciation and no work-life balance.
Recognizing and handling this condition is very important to restore mental and physical health. Here are a few techniques to manage job burnout:
- Take a Break
As soon as you know that you are afflicted with job burnout, talk to your manager or boss and take a break. Cut yourself off from work completely and do what makes you genuinely happy. Go on a vacation and even if you don’t have any vacation days left, request for an unpaid break, explaining logically why exactly you need it. The sooner you do it, the lesser you will suffer.
- Open Up With Someone
Open up with someone who genuinely cares about your well-being, be it a friend, your spouse, children or a co-worker. This could be a great way of releasing your frustration. They don’t have to be in the same industry to understand your issues; just having a heart-to-heart conversation with someone close can actually help get things off your chest and feel better.
- Get Rid of Your Alcohol or Caffeine Dependency
Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are some of the common things that people turn to while dealing with stress or burnout. These things can be helpful in moderation but excessive dependency on them in order to cope with workloads and stress could be damaging to your health. Find some healthy diversions instead.
- Take Up Different Responsibilities
Burnout doesn’t necessarily happen from overwork; it may also be a result of monotonous work. A change of responsibilities can be helpful. Talk to your manager and request for a different set of responsibilities or, if possible, swap work with someone who is also worn out. No organization wants to lose a good employee and if you are good at work, your company will definitely arrange a change for you.
- Indulge in Recreational Activities
Indulging in recreational activities to divert your mind from work and release your pressure. Pick something that you genuinely enjoy like any sport, video games, or dancing. This is a great way of releasing your pent-up frustration which otherwise can damage you or your career irreversibly.
- Change the Work Environment
Sometimes, a change in scenery can help you a lot in coping with burnout. Opt for remote work for a few days and work from home, or a coffee shop or wherever you feel good and inspired. This is especially true for people engaged in creative work. However, while working from home make sure you’re not mixing up your personal and professional hours. Draw the line and balance your work and personal life.
- Spice Up Your Work Routine
Having fun at work is important. Find ways to spice up your work routines so that you actually enjoy what you’re doing. Art Directors and Copywriters use a creative approach in which they challenge each other to comp up with specific phrases or words to be used in ads. You can introduce games which lead to work goals.
- Sleep, Exercise and Eat Healthy
When stressed, people sometimes look for unhealthy ways to find comfort like binge-watching TV shows, drinking alcohol, eating junk food, etc. However, this doesn’t really help make things better for the long term. Instead, healthy living helps relieve stress better. Have adequate sleep, exercise daily and eat healthy foods. Your body needs love, care and good maintenance to restore the lost energy and motivation.
- Know About FMLA Laws
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leaves each year, without the threat of job loss. Know about the laws and when it can be used. FMLA protection is usually used for major life events but experiencing a severe burnout can also qualify. Talk to a doctor or psychologist and get written proof of the fact that you’re unable to perform your duties satisfactorily due to burnout.
- Quit Your Job
Many organizations are ignoring this rising issue, focusing more on profits and blaming poor employee performances instead of taking measures to reduce employee stress. If you think you’re stuck with one such organization then it’s better to quit your job. Also if you find a better way to earn your living or think that you’re under unreasonable pressure in your current job, it’s always better to quit. Anything that is a threat to your sanity isn’t worth continuing. Before you reach the point of breakdown, find out a way to start over and become happy.
Job burnout is a serious issue which not only affects your work but also your mental and physical health severely. Having a good work-life balance is important to ensure your well-being in today’s competitive world, and identifying and managing job burnout is a vital step towards the same.