Workplace burnout is not a new concept. Many of us have felt drained, apathetic and anxious because of work. Since the start of the pandemic, many people have been working longer hours. Combine this with a loss of division between work and home. The result has been a spike in workplace burnout globally.

Burnout is more serious than just feeling exhausted. According to the World Health Organisation, burnout contributed to more than 745,000 deaths worldwide in just one year!

We asked Steven Booker, Psychologist and iHR Australia Facilitator to help us to identify the signs, to prevent burnout from having serious consequences.

What are some of the signs that you’re ‘burnt out’?

Burnout results from chronic work-related stress that has not been successfully managed. People experiencing burnout may have the following symptoms:

  • Exhaustion or lack of energy
  • Being disinterested in work, or treating customers or colleagues in a detached, uncaring manner
  • Feeling negative or cynical about changes, initiatives or projects
  • Feeling less efficient or effective than normal, or that they are not accomplishing as much as they usually do

What are some things people can do to prevent burnout?

Key tips for avoiding burnout are:

  • Make sure you are sufficiently prioritising your self-care (exercise, relaxing time, diet, sleep, spending time with family/friends, and pursuing hobbies/interests). Reframe these activities not as “wasted time” but important “preventative maintenance” that is critical for you to feel happy and re-charged at home and work). Realise that good self-care will actually help you perform better at work.
  • Take the time to think about your values – about what matters most to you in life and work. Then ask how well your work is aligned to these values. If there are gaps between your values and your current actions, be proactive in planning how to address them. For example, if family is your key priority but you are working so hard that you rarely see them, seriously consider making some changes.
  • If you are experiencing trouble with saying “no” or delegating tasks, take a course or review online resources in assertive communication and critical conversation skills. Practice learning how to negotiate deadlines and learn to be more comfortable “pushing back” on unreasonable people, timeframes or requests.
  • Particularly when working from home, focus on creating better work-life balance. Consider:
    • agreeing with your manager/colleagues/customers that there are certain times during the day when you will be not contactable
    • setting your computer/phone to only check emails/messages at certain times or at certain intervals
    • committing to not regularly working late at night/on weekends
  • Perhaps most importantly, be honest with yourself about whether you are experiencing burnout, and try to understand that asking for help with this is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

iHR Australia provides Mental Health and Well-being training to assist both Managers and Employees in the workplace. Contact us today for further information.

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