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Stop Asking If I’m “Burned Out”

Reposted from Halifax Chamber of Commerce

Organizations and employers who are concerned about their employees, need to stop asking “Are you burned out?” Not because they don’t care about their employees, or because they need to take care of the bottom lines. It’s because the definition, of what burnout really is, varies from one person to the next.

Most organizations and employers will focus on one or two indicators to determine what they see as burnout. That may not be a clear representation of what real burnout is. Employees can be effective and still be exhausted and overextended. However, the intensification of workloads and increasing emotional difficulty can lead employees to feel ineffective in their position. This in turn can lead to burnout.

It should come as no surprise to hear that burnout is real. With financial stress, job insecurity in addition to a global pandemic these factors will change how burnout presents itself, and what you can do to avoid it.

Knowing what signs to look for can help. Here are some indicators or signs of burnout: mental exhaustion, cynicism, inefficiency, overextended, emotionally drained, lacking energy, unmotivated, and being unable to meet daily demands. But burnout is wily and presents in physical symptoms like headaches, loss of appetite, backaches or fatigue.

Burnout can have a domino effect in a workplace especially if it causes one employee to leave the organization. This may place greater responsibility on others perhaps adding to burnout in other employees, disrupting deadlines etc. So how can you as an organization or employer help?

Well, first you are not 100 percent responsible to react to employee burnout situations. Burnout is different for everyone, and it is hard to predict. Being proactive about employee mental health and safety can help both your employees and the Organization to avoid burnout.

We are in a global pandemic and organizations have adjusted to having their employees working from home. Working from home itself can be an indicator of burnout for those employees who have never worked from home before. Don’t worry. It is not all bad news. There are protective factors any organization can utilize to help prevent employee burnout.

Some tips could include:

  • Offering validation. Employees are often more productive when they feel appreciated by their organizations. Offering an employee a “great job” or other forms of feedback goes a long way.
  • While employees are working from home it is important to build in “water cooler moments”. This might be more important than expected, encouraging socialization moments between co-workers. This could be done by staying connected through regular check-ins, peer consultation or mentorship.
  • Encouraging healthy coping strategies such as eating well, drinking water, sleeping regularly, exercise, maintaining hygiene and being connected to meaning and purpose.
  • Knowing when to suggest professional help.

One last tip worth mentioning is that burnout can often feel insurmountable and can be accompanied by overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. Burnout is not permanent even if it sometimes can feel that way. Organizations that understand symptoms, also understand that it is not a weakness in character. Those that implement proactive strategies have a more sustainable, happier and healthier organization.

Burnout can impact anyone. If you have any questions about building strategies, please reach out and book an appointment.

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