A 2018 Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes.
You don’t have to be an overworked accountant during tax season to know that this means about two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout on the job.
Want more exhaustive numbers fueling the burnout epidemic? The 2019 Work Confidence Survey of 1,016 American workers found that 23% reported a negative workplace culture, 14% cited bad relationships with the boss, and 38% said they lack time for their personal lives.
What is Burnout?
The World Health Organization describes burnout as an “occupational hazard” resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. And burnout isn’t cheap. The World Economic Forum estimates the syndrome costs the global economy $322 billion annually.
Here are a few factors proven to cause burnout in the workplace:
• Unrealistic deadlines
• Inadequate recognition
• Limited autonomy
• Unsupportive relationships with management
• Lack of clarity about your role
• Poorly managed change
• Toxic bosses
So how can we fan the flames of our successes to prevent burnout from squelching our career happiness as we turn the corner into 2020?
Follow these three tips to start your battle with burnout.
1. Ask for help
As professionals, we often strive to handle challenges on our own. Asking for help is counterintuitive to proving ourselves in competitive workplace environments. This me-against-the-world mentality can be the very thing kindling your burnout.
Owners of small and medium-sized companies are a particularly at-risk group when it comes to burnout. They experience higher levels of stress and mental health disorders compared to the general population because they often find themselves wearing multiple hats and running their companies without a human resources department.
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Think about your local restaurant owner. He’s sourcing ingredients, watching his costs, managing his books, planning for events, leading his teams and serving his customers. Forget burnout. That’s a wildfire!
By strategically hiring outside vendors to take some of the load off, small business owners can lower their burnout rate.
Overwhelmed employees should also be open to asking for help. Bringing specific challenges to your boss — along with the solutions to overcome them — is good practice for all of us, no matter how big or small our companies.
2. Recognize the symptoms
Burnout may be tough to solve, but it’s easy to recognize.
The Mayo Clinic describes these as burnout symptoms:
• Negative, cynical thinking about your job or bosses
• Inability to focus
• Moments of indecision
• Loss of perspective
• Feeling overwhelmed and out of control
• Physical complaints such as headaches, digestive problems or flare-ups of inflammatory conditions
If you’re having these types of feelings, it’s imperative that you speak up at work. Which leads us to our final tip for battling burnout.
3. Hold leaders accountable
Recognizing burnout symptoms is fruitless unless you do something about it. Your leadership team has a corporate social responsibility to minimize the harm that comes from the potential of burnout.
Resolving feelings of burnout requires a solid effort on both sides — from your leadership team and also from you. Take pride in being a potential change-maker in your organization. If team members are overworked and stressed about deadlines, suggest more resources for complex projects or recommend better planning to avoid timeline-induced stress.
Demand better training and development for your company’s employees to make sure team members are being nurtured and challenged in their roles. Encourage clearer communication between leadership and employees — and hold leaders accountable for planned meetings, one-on-ones and performance reviews.
The point is, burnout isn’t leaving our workplaces anytime soon. With smartphones and email apps that make us reachable 100% of the time, we are more accessible now that we have ever been before.
But there are ways to control your stress levels while still getting work checked off your list. It starts with taking a deep dive into your own situation, and then committing to drive positive change within your company.
Without this approach, burnout wins every time.
Joe Szynkowski is a Senior Director for NuVinAir, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. And thanks to technology, he does it happily from his home east of Marion. Email Joe@TheUpWriteGroup.com for more guidance on work happiness.