Health Wellness
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If stress at work leaves you exhausted and overwhelmed, chances are you’re experiencing employee burnout. That can affect your physical, emotional and mental health.

Life coach Jennifer Longmore helps us figure out what to look for and how to overcome burnout.

What is burnout and what are the signs?

Burnout results from prolonged exposure to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job. Burnout is what happens after long standing exposure to a negative work environment or being overworked for a long period of time. There are many signs, including being irritable, always tired, feeling foggy/unfocused, hard time getting out of bed, hard time sleeping, and dreading the day ahead – even with activities you previously enjoyed.

How common is burnout?

One in four Canadians quit their jobs because of prolonged stress leading to burnout. Research shows burnout happens when highly engaged employees have increasingly low well-being. Ultimately, these top performing, highly engaged employees will leave. The most common causes of burnout are sparked by organizational issues: from job pressures to role conflict and ambiguity, lack of support from managers, lack of feedback and participation in decision making.

How does burnout impact your work and home life?

Burnout leads to lower productivity, stress-related health issues, increased substance misuse, anxiety, depression and decreased self-esteem. It also can be “contagious,” leading to greater personal conflict at work and “spillover” into life outside of work. You may become less present, quicker to anger, and have more conflict and/or more apathy, with less energy to contribute around the house and less desire to interact.

Is the saying, “I’m totally burned out,” a legitimate claim?

When you hear people say, “I’m totally burned out” they probably mean they don’t like their job. In most cases, this is disengagement. The catch is, you have to first be “on fire” in order to burn out. This means you’re totally into your work and you’re giving it your all. When you’re highly engaged, you’re more productive and focused at work which can lead to increased performance. However, you can’t be “on fire” forever. Without intentional support from your manager and organization, your energy and productivity can wane, leading to stress overload and burnout.

How do you develop a healthy mindset?

Mindset is the key to your success and the organization’s. An established attitude about a situation sets the stage for how people handle or recover from certain circumstances. For instance, one person might handle stress head on, while another might crumble from the pressure. Foster a well-being mindset with a focus on personal development, growth and communication that supports a positive outlook and puts your self-care first.

Is it okay to never take breaks?

Recovery time is crucial. And everyone deserves a break. Work overload, tight deadlines and running on empty can lead to exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy – and ultimately cause you to burn out. Some people even find it hard to step away from the office. A recent study by Kimble Applications found that 21% of Americans left more than five vacation days on the table this past year. Work with your manager to prioritize your projects, and see what tasks you.

What’s your company or manager’s responsibility?

If something has changed with a high-performing employee, the company needs to ask 4 essential questions: “Are we assigning too much work?”, “Are we assigning the right tasks to the wrong people?”, “Are we encouraging people to take time off, to evolve their skill sets, and unplug on weekends to regroup?”, and “Are our expectations realistic?”

What does a healthy corporate culture look like?

If a company has a culture that their employees need to be on their phones and responding to messages all hours of the day (even if it’s unspoken), it’s not reasonable for the company to expect anything less than burnout from their employees. Companies that encourage continual learning, regular vacations, have health benefits, and create innovative wellness programs have virtually no burnout. Whether it be nap stations, infrared saunas, seated chair massage, aromatherapy, lunch time yoga or meditation and more – the more companies invest in their employees’ wellbeing, the less burn out they experience and the more productive they are (contrary to what may be assumed by having these programs in place).