Career Burnout: How to Spot It and Take Action
Sun, April 18, 2021

Career Burnout: How to Spot It and Take Action

Career burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that employees feel about their jobs / Photo by: Brian Jackson via 123RF

 

For many of us, being employed fulfills our desires and family needs. Our jobs have also become a way for us to attain self-confidence, self-respect, and higher social status. Most of the time, we think that having a job will satisfy our needs. After all, we are getting paid for the work that we do. But behind all of this is the truth that being in the workplace has never been easy and will never be easy.

There are jobs that fulfill our desires for growth, finance, and self-satisfaction. However, there are those that bring out the worst in people due to several factors, but mainly because of a toxic working environment. A workplace that has made employees feel a need to escape from is one of the reasons for career burnout.

Career burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that employees feel about their jobs. The term “burnout” is not a new concept. In fact, it was coined by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s. He described it as the stress and exhaustion felt by those in “helping” professions, making it tough for them to cope. 

A 2018 Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees discovered that 23 percent of the respondents reported feeling burnt out at work all the time. An additional 14 percent reported feeling burnt out sometimes. Unfortunately, no one is immune to burnout. It can be the everyday employee who tries to get to the top, the nurse who caregives around the clock, and even the overworked and undervalued high-achieving executive. 

CNBC, a leader in business news and real-time financial market coverage, quoted Jim Harter, Ph.D., chief scientist of workplace management and well-being for Gallup, as stating that the cost of absenteeism and turnover is huge in most organizations. An article in the Harvard Business Review reported that meltdown accounts for an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion in healthcare spending each year. 

Are You Suffering From Burnout?

Career burnout is an extremely uncomfortable state, causing a sense of hopelessness and feelings of powerlessness. Employees tend to question their worth and lose hope that they will get through this state. Burnout is more than just a feeling of stress at the job, it is a feeling of being unable to gain any enthusiasm or motivation for work. The pleasure of doing the job you once loved is nowhere to be found. 

A recent study conducted by researchers from Montreal University discovered that women are more likely to burn out because they have less authority or control over their work than men. According to The Guardian, a British daily newspaper founded in 1821, the team monitored 2,026 people—half of whom were women—for four years. 

“Whether someone has input into important decisions that affect their work is a major factor [in burnout]. People have a real need for that autonomy. And by autonomy, I don’t mean, ‘I can do whatever I like.’ It’s about that feeling of making something happen as opposed to being acted upon,” said Michael Leiter, a professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Victoria’s Deakin University.

Career burnout is an extremely uncomfortable state, causing a sense of hopelessness and feelings of powerlessness / Photo by: Kaspars Grinvalds via 123RF

 

There are several factors that can lead to burnout. For instance, lack of control, where employees have so much in their hands—schedule, assignments, or workload—that they can’t even decide on their own. They also tend to get confused when there’s no clarity about the degree of authority they have or what their supervisor or others expect from them. This makes them a lot uncomfortable at work. A dysfunctional workplace dynamics can also lead to career burnout where they feel undermined by colleagues, bullied by an officemate, or abused by their boss. 

According to Verywell Mind, a trusted and compassionate online resource that provides the guidance people need to improve their mental health and find balance, a lack of employee recognition can lead to career burnout. All of us want to be validated or praised for our work every once in a while. Tokens of appreciation go a long way in keeping morale high. Without those, employees tend to question themselves if they are doing the right thing.

Handling Career Burnout

Before learning how to manage burnout, employees need to understand the symptoms and causes so they can understand how these affect them. Burnout can cause physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness. It can also cause the immune system to weaken so that people might acquire various infections, colds, or flu. 

At the same time, burnout can cause psychological symptoms such as feeling pessimistic about the future, feeling detached from others and the environment, physically and emotionally isolating oneself from others, and losing enjoyment in everything they might have liked about their job and work-related activities. 

According to Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, an initiative of Canada Life that aims to increase knowledge and awareness of workplace psychological health and safety, burnout may result in a number of outcomes when left unaddressed such as poor physical health, clinical depression, reduced job satisfaction, decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, increased risk of accidents, communication breakdown, and more. 

One of the ways to address career burnout is to reach out with your supervisor if possible. If there’s a chance that you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions, grab it. It’s also important to seek support from your friends, co-workers, or loved ones. Having a strong support system will help you cope. You can also try a relaxing activity, do regular exercise, get enough sleep, and practice mindfulness.

Burnout can cause physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness. It can also cause the immune system to weaken so that people might acquire various infections, colds, or flu / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via 123RF