Burned and growing matches
May 16, 2022
8 Minutes
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Feeling Burned Out? Suggestions to be More Resistant to this Major Issue and Instead Thrive at Work!

Written by:
Luke Dunn

What is Burnout?

If you’ve spent any time in today’s workplace, you’re most likely familiar with the term “burnout.” In fact, you may dread its existence entirely... And you’re far from alone in fearing burnout; why does this 7-letter word strike so much anxiety and fear into the minds of managers, HR professionals, and even C-suite executives?

Just so we’re on the same page, we define burnout as a sense of disengagement from work along with overwhelming exhaustion onset by prolonged physical, emotional, and mental stress. At some point in your professional career or personal life, you’ve most likely felt the immense fatigue, depression, and detachment that accompanies burnout; Maybe you have felt squandered by your own incapability and like you can’t keep up with life’s incessant demands. I assure you that you’re not alone.  Here are a few of the most common causes of burnouts:

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  • Too much work and too little time to complete it
  • Constant over commitment
  • Feeling isolated
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Job insecurity

Recently, the iAlign.Work team chatted with a leadership expert on this matter. He told us that that the type of employees who are experiencing intense burnout aren’t necessarily the ones you would expect to. Counter to common belief that you can spot a burnt out worker by looking for the "slackers," he told us that the top performers who regularly go above and beyond to achieve extraordinary results are the individuals falling prey to burnout at the fastest rate. They are rapidly overworking themselves and are facing debilitating stress at work. He explained that in his experience, top performers usually aren’t implementing sustainable work practices and are leaving companies sooner (contributing to high churn rates) because they exhaust themselves too quickly…. What he referred to as “a tale as old as time.” In fact, most employees are feeling the immense societal pressure to sacrifice personal work-life boundaries for the sake of producing desirable results or clocking in 60+ hours for the week. As a result of this problem, organizations are losing astonishing amounts of money.

The Cost of Burnout

According to Harvard Business Review, research reveals that U.S. companies alone spend an estimated $190 billion on workplace-stress-related healthcare costs each year. Additionally, we know that burnout leads to disengagement, and disengagement also costs companies money. For example, Gallup found that burned-out workers who are disengaged cost their company the equivalent of 18% of their annual salary. With numbers like these, it’s understandable why so many organizations are working hard to keep engagement up and turnover down.

Not only are companies facing the readily available costs of burnout, but they also are challenged in other less obvious ways. After top performers leave their employer, organizations suffer the cost of finding new talent to fill those positions. As we probably all know, the cost of hiring is much greater than retaining.

To learn more about the outrageous costs of turnover, take a look at our blog post How Much Does Turnover Actually Cost? – The ROI of Investing in Your People.

Now that we understand the magnitude of the problem at hand, how do we address it? Well, there is no one correct answer or magical formula capable of guaranteeing the elimination of employee burnout at your company. However, there are methods that will help you create a workplace environment that will lower it. Here are 4 ways you can help keep your workforce from experiencing burnout:

4 Ways to Keep from Experiencing Burnout

  1. Prioritize Feedback - The iAlign.Work team believes in the power of feedback and its ability to alter an employee’s performance, engagement, and happiness at work. When managers set consistent times with their people to have one-on-ones, they can remind their employees the “why” behind their work, lead them to live more from their strengths, and encourage them to grow. People desire to feel heard and empowered at work and giving feedback is one of the best ways to do that. Managers should recognize the importance of checking up on the professional and personal well-being of their people. Want to learn how you can be better at giving feedback? Check out our blog post Feedback Approaches that are Soooo Last Year.
  2. Set (or Ask for) Transparent and Realistic Expectations - When it comes to providing clear and reachable expectations at work, it seems to be hit or miss for companies. Transparency within expectations alleviates any room for ambiguity. When employees are aware of the company’s vision and have a deep understanding of their responsibilities, they can mentally connect how their work contributes to the larger goal. Making sure you set expectations that are feasible within a person’s capabilities and time frame is also necessary. Be mindful of people working at different paces and check in with them often to see if they need additional clarity. It’s always best to strive for clarity so you never leave your people guessing.
  3. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance - The term work-life balance has been used a lot recently, so I’d wager you probably know what it means. Nevertheless, it remains an integral part of maintaining an overall healthy life. It can be helpful for many people to have boundaries between their life at work to protect other non-work/personal interests. Learning to sometimes say no to work when it encroaches upon your personal life can save you from being a slave to it. While it could be a blog post on its own, the key here is to have boundaries that match with your preference. People who know what work-life balance is appropriate for them can make better use of their time and hold fast to their boundaries. Organizations should encourage their employees to seek out a healthy work-life balance because its better for them in the long run. When people have time to do what they love at home, they often feel more energized and replenished when coming into work. Another suggestion for feeling more in-balance at work can be to use Job Crafting (for more, check out our blog post).
  4. Make Time for Team Outings and Fun - A changeup in scenery and a break from responsibilities allows people to let loose and make personal connections with their coworkers. When managers put aside time to take their team out of the office (or home office) or set up fun events, they are promoting the building of community, trust, and friendship. When you have positive relationships with your coworkers, it makes going to work more enjoyable and sustainable. Having close friends at work means you’re better equipped to fend off the stress and isolation that so often causes burnout. It’s vital that you’re receiving time to enjoy yourself and the people that you work with.

Easier said than done right? While these tips certainly aren’t the end-all be-all to solving burnout in the workplace, they are a great start to get you on the right track.

Burnout doesn’t have to be a common experience at work. You deserve to feel a sense of purpose, enjoyment, and achievement. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out at your company, you should pursue implementing practices that curtail burnout for yourself and your coworkers. Remember that creating a burnout resistant organization requires an integrative approach and takes time to develop. Focus on meeting the needs of employees and always seek out ways that you can better serve them.

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