Life coachingA Simple Guide on Job burnout: Causes, Effects, and Solution

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A Simple Guide on Job burnout: Causes, Effects, and Solution

Burnout is physical and emotional exhaustion from a workplace environment. Burnout is a condition characterized by irritability, cynicism, and a sense of hopelessness and dissatisfaction with  Herbert Fruendenberger defined it by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, decreased sense of accomplishment. It can occur to any person regardless of gender, race, or age.

It is a complex issue facing today’s society, especially the workplace. It is everywhere. It can affect anyone. Therefore, it is considered a very serious condition that can affect both the individual and the organization. The effects of workplace burnout include a decrease in productivity, increased absenteeism, increased rate of turnover, an increase in accidents, a decreased number of quality projects, and an increase in complaints

Emotional exhaustion 

Emotional regulation is a skill that we start to learn in childhood. Picture that toddler that is angry he can’t play with the power outlet. Mom gently redirects and co-regulates with her child. As the child grows it learns to experience these emotions and regulate them internally. But internal regulation takes practice and consistency. Oftentimes people avoid their emotions instead. People get good at avoiding and pushing down. The issue is that our body remembers. That continual avoidance and pushing down creates emotional exhaustion. 

There are three ways you can start working on emotional regulation. 

  1. Recognize where you feel different emotions physically.
  2. Notice why you are experiencing these emotions.
  3. Honor those physical feelings and why you feel those emotions. 

Researchers Amelia and Emily Nagoski said it this way, “Emotions are tunnels. If you go all the way through them, you get the light at the end.” 

Good work culture and job satisfaction

A good work culture causes more happiness than more money. Job satisfaction is the essential factor in determining happiness and success. 

The Harvard Study of Adult Development, completed in 1994, showed that people in their fifties who rated life satisfaction as high were more than twice as likely to report being engaged in their jobs. As an outcome, they had less stress and more self-assurance. A 1997 follow-up study confirmed that people who rated life satisfaction as high had jobs they enjoyed and were satisfied with.

Even among people who didn’t like their jobs, the life satisfaction indicator remained strong. When these low job satisfaction people were asked about their jobs, 70% said they liked their job, and 40% said they were engaged in it. Conversely, people who didn’t enjoy their jobs were 30% engaged in them. Work-life balance

Emotional regulation and healthy boundaries can be a protective factor against burnout. 

In this pandemic world, physical and mental health has adverse effects due to the lack of proper fitness facilities and equipment. A well-designed workout plan at home can avoid unwanted stress and improve your health. Exercising, eating well, and connection with others help keep the balance when you are off the clock.  

Studies have shown that people who are more productive are also happier people. The way to being happier is to exercise regularly, eat right, and hang out with friends. It’s important to have fun in your free time, but it’s also important to use the downtime to reflect on your goals and how you can become a better person.

Stress due to pandemic

There are certain factors that can add stress during the pandemic.

The common work-related factors are:

  • Being concerned about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work
  • Difficulty in taking care of personal as well as family needs while working
  • Inability to access the tools and equipment required to perform your job
  • Feelings that you are not contributing enough to work or guilt about not being on the frontline
  • Uncertainty about the future 
  • Difficulties in learning and dealing with new communication tools and technologies.
  • Adapting to a different workspace or work schedule

Effects of Workplace burnout

Burnout is a catchall phrase for physical and mental exhaustion. It’s what happens when we push ourselves too hard for too long or fail to take breaks.

It’s a common problem, especially among young workers. One big reason workers are underemployed is burnout. A 2005 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 23 percent of workers 18-29 years old reported being burned out, compared with 11 percent of workers 40 and over. Another study found that young employees were 59 percent more likely than older employees to report burnout for every hour worked.

Burnout also has physical effects. A study of 8,000 workers ages 18 to 64 found that 19 percent of men and 21 percent of women reported having at least one constellation of symptoms that together constituted burnout. The most common symptoms were insomnia, chest pain, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic fatigue.

Workplace burnout is not just a problem among young people. A study of 18,000 workers aged 40 and older found that 48 percent of men and 35 percent of women reported at least one symptom of burnout. Although burnout is more common in younger workers, more senior people generally experience it more intensely. In addition, employees with three or more symptoms reported having lower job satisfaction than their coworkers with fewer symptoms.

Today’s work-from-home scenario might not be suited to everyone’s personality or ability. 

People may face problems like:

  • Feeling irritation, anger, or in denial; uncertain, nervous, or anxious
  • Lacking motivation
  • Feeling tired and overwhelmed
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating

Also, 

  • Productivity: It’s easy to make a compelling case for working in an office. It helps if you have someone holding you accountable for time. It’s harder to do that at home.
  • Quality of work: Working from your own space, in your own way, can make you less productive. When everyone’s in the same place, it’s easier to share ideas. When everyone’s working from their own space, it can be hard to know what work is being done and what isn’t.
  • Lack of access to expertise: Most workplaces have plenty of experts on hand. But working from home means not having access to those experts. With a problem, you have to solve it yourself.
  • Time spent commuting: Commuting can be long. In some cities, it can even be expensive.

Solutions to workplace burnout for companies 

Human resource managers should identify employees suffering from burnout and train employees and managers alike to recognize burnout. They are uniquely positioned to identify and address burnout in the workplace. Because of their role as the bridge between employees and their managers, human resource managers are in the best position to assess burnout in the workplace.

Organizational leaders should support their employees to recognize burnout because it is universal in knowledge workers. Even a knowledge worker whose job includes making people happy or enjoyable can be at risk for burnout because knowledge work is usually more stressful than other work. After all, knowledge work requires working effectively in teams.

Expecting a job to be stressful does not mean you are doing something wrong. It only means that you are human. Stress happens because we all fear the unknown. Communicating with your coworkers, supervisors, and employees about job stress helps to build resilience and manage job stress. Identify those things you do not have control over and do the best you can.

Employers should also take action. There may be an organizational issue causing the burnout, or the employee may be overextended. Either way, employers should support their employees in finding ways to reduce the workload.

For more information on workplace burnout, please email us @ office@beaconmhscounseling.com.

Recommended resource: Burnout, The Secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski 

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