Have you ever been burned out at work? You almost certainly have without even realizing it.
Burnout has become a common occurrence in the lives of knowledge-work professionals, especially given today’s ever-increasing demands. Many of us have no idea how close we are to burning out or how long we have been in this state!
Burnouts can be highly damaging to both employees and their companies as a whole. Continue reading to learn more about occupational burnout, its causes, and how to avoid it.
What Is Occupational Burnout?
Occupational burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that can result from prolonged exposure to one or more occupational stressors. The degree of burnout can range from mild to severe and can affect anyone in an occupation that requires them to work for long periods of time.
What Causes Burnout?
Although it is commonly assumed that burnout is caused by prolonged work overload, according to a report published in PLOS ONE, there are three types of occupational burnout. A different set of circumstances logically causes each one.
Frenetic burnout is the stereotypical version described above, characterized by overburdened workers. These employees usually speak in a negative tone, complaining about their workload.
However, this type of employee burnout affects those who feel like they aren’t getting much satisfaction from their work. Burnout team members frequently “cognitively avoid” their work, distancing themselves from what they perceive to be an unsatisfying experience.
Worn-out employees struggle with the daily grind and ultimately neglect their work because of those pressures.
The study found that 15% of employees in the report experienced frenetic burnout, 9% experienced under-challenged burnout, and 21% were worn-out.
Stages of Employee Burnout
Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North theorized about occupational burnout and divided the development of the syndrome into seven stages. Some are workplace burnout symptoms, while others result from personal pressures.
A compulsion to prove oneself. In most cases, this results from attempting to work on too many assignments at once.
Working harder. Many people set and meet high personal expectations to prove themselves to others or to fit in as part of an organization that does not suit them. They tend to concentrate solely on work and take on more than they would normally.
Neglecting daily needs. Individuals have no time for anything else because they are already devoting all their time to work. Friends and family, eating and sleeping, are no longer regarded as essential aspects of life but rather as burdens that detract from the time available for work.
Displacement of conflicts. People who reach this stage frequently struggle to identify the source of the problem and begin blaming others, such as the team or organization.
Revision of values. People’s values shift as they progress toward burnout. Work consumes all of their energy, leaving them with none for friends or hobbies. When work becomes their sole focus, they become intolerant of other people’s mistakes and are never satisfied with their colleagues’ work, which frequently leads to internal conflicts.
Denial of emerging problems. Burnout victims eventually become intolerant, aggressive, and sarcastic. They begin to ignore project-related problems because they do not want to deal with them, and they blame it on the stress caused by their excessive workload.
Withdrawal. Individuals will become isolated if they have little or no social contact. Depression hits like a ton of bricks at that point. The affected person withdraws from team activities and communicates less frequently with colleagues. This invariably causes issues in the team dynamic.
How to Overcome Burnouts?
There is no “universal panacea” that will guarantee a cure for “burnout,” but there are a few tried-and-true methods that may help in its prevention. Because the condition is stress-related, you must find a way to reduce the sources of stress and rethink how you distribute responsibilities to stop it.
Don’t start more work than you can finish without exceeding your acceptable threshold. Even the most successful entrepreneurs, such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and other business leaders, follow this advice. Mr Bezos also follows the two-pizza rule when scheduling meetings, which means he will not call or attend a meeting if two pizzas are insufficient to feed the entire group.
If you can’t pinpoint the exact cause of burnout, take the time to examine your life and focus on something other than work.
Sports are an excellent way to relieve stress. According to a study published by the University of Georgia, regular exercise helps to reduce anxiety, boost mood, increase productivity, and improve quality of life.
Getting enough sleep, eating well, and drinking plenty of water reduces stress levels in everyday life.
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