Avoiding Workplace Burnout

woman looking at her computer looking stressed out

Workplace burnout has become increasingly common in recent years. The impact of burnout on both people and businesses has gotten a lot of attention lately. Specifically, the well-known and widespread “Great Resignation” refers to the roughly 33 million Americans who have quit their jobs since the spring of 2021. In order to minimize employee turnover, leaders must know what workplace burnout is, how to identify it, and how to alleviate or avoid it. 

What is workplace burnout?

Workplace burnout is a type of work-related stress that refers to a state of physical or emotional exhaustion. It also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. 

According to American Psychological Association, nearly 3 out of 5 employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%)  and lack of effort at work (19%) in 2022. Meanwhile, 36% reported cognitive weariness, 32% reported emotional exhaustion, and an astounding 44% reported physical fatigue—a 38% increase since 2019.

Signs of workplace burnout

Here are some common signs to look for in yourself and others to identify workplace burnout:

  • Emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion
  • Disengagement 
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Higher sensitivity to feedback
  • Decreased productivity 
  • Isolation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased irritability 

Possible causes of burnout

Several things contribute to workplace burnout. If you or someone you know is feeling burnt out at work, there is a great chance that it could be caused by: 

  • Unfair treatment at work 
  • An unmanageable workload 
  • Unclear communication and expectations
  • Unreasonable deadlines
  • Lack of support 

How to avoid it

Because of the severity of the impacts of burnout, it’s essential to learn how to be proactive in avoiding it. Here are some steps you can take or encourage others to take if you notice any of the signs listed above: 

  1. Learn how to manage stress- Learning how to manage your stress can help increase your creativity, motivation, productivity, and immune health. 

  2. Use your paid time off(PTO)- Paid time off gives employees a chance to take a break from the daily demands of their job and find time to rest, recharge, and spend time with family and friends. The positive impact of time away from work only occurs if you actually use your PTO!

  3. Actively manage your time- Effective time management enables professionals to accomplish their tasks quickly and effectively. This results in greater clarity, greater capability, and greater confidence. Be sure to check out the blog we wrote about time management here.
  4. Delegate tasks that you shouldn’t be doing- You can’t, and shouldn’t, do everything yourself. Learning when and how to delegate tasks allows you to reduce stress and increase focus. 

  5. Take short breaks during the workday- Taking a short break during the workday increases focus when you return to work and helps maintain performance, thus improving productivity and reducing stress. Schedule 15 minutes in your calendar to go for a walk, read a book, or meditate. 

  6. Exercise- Exercising regularly can help you deal with stress. It can also increase self-confidence, improve your mood, help you relax, and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.

  7. Get enough sleep- Sleeping restores your well-being and protects your mental health. According to WebMD, most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep, although some people may need as few as 6 hours or as many as 10 hours each day.

  8. Practice mindfulness- Psychological scientists have found that mindfulness influences two different stress pathways in the brain, changing brain structures and activity in regions associated with attention and emotion regulation. By practicing mindfulness, you may discover a powerful tool for relieving stress and improving well-being. 

  9. Set boundaries with your manager- Setting boundaries at work allows you to take control of your life and livelihood and is a significant step toward establishing a healthy work-life balance. Workplace boundaries create a safe and supportive working environment for everyone. 

Tips for leaders: 

To minimize turnover and ensure overall employee well-being, it's crucial that managers take action to prevent employee burnout.

Here are some ways that managers can contribute to the well-being of employees:

-Hold walking meetings

-Listen to your employees

-Encourage employees to take PTO

-Promote work/life balance

-Make feedback a priority

-Offer flexible scheduling 

-Create fair workloads

-Acknowledge and celebrate successes 

-Prioritize workplace wellness

Burnout is not a personal issue. It is an organizational issue. Take time to listen to your employees, encourage them to take care of their mental and physical help, and pay attention to the signs of burnout. After all, employees, managers, and businesses benefit from healthy, happy employees.