A Guide on How to Overcome Burnout And Restore Job Productivity

Have you ever felt too exhausted to execute your daily tasks? Does your energy fade away quickly? You are most likely burnt out!

Burnout negatively affects all aspects of life. It impacts job productivity, life satisfaction, and sleep quality. It often results in deteriorated health and lower self-esteem. For organizations, it even increases turnover rates and decreases the quality of work.

Hence, learning how to overcome work burnout is necessary to cope with physical and mental exhaustion at work.

Consider each word in the article and figure out whether you or your loved ones experience this phenomenon.

Start making a change and learn how to overcome job burnout! 

Understanding job burnout

Christina Maslach, an American psychologist, defined burnout as “a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job.” The World Health Organization has not recognized burnout as an illness or disease in itself, but it impacts mental health

To understand the phenomena of burnout, we need to differentiate it from stress and depression.

Stress is the immediate response of your body when facing any unpredictable situation. Job burnout is a sustained negative response to president stressors in work.

Read more: Maximizing Output, Minimizing Stress: A Blueprint for Peak Performance 

Depression is characterized by prolonged sadness, loss of interest, sleep, and appetite disturbances, and can lead to thinking of suicide. Some studies argue that the late levels of burnout and depression are too close to be distinguished, but the main difference is that burnout is related to occupational and workplace matters.

Read more: Fighting the Blues: How to Build Resilience Against Depression 

To identify burnout, you must understand the three main components of burnout, they are:

  • Exhaustion. It is when an employee feels drained and overwhelmed and has no physical or psychological energy. It is considered the main component of burnout, but that does not mean that being exhausted equals being burnt out.
  • Cynicism or depersonalization. This is when an employee feels they no longer belong to their workplace and don’t care for their colleagues, and then voluntarily distances and detaches themselves from the job.
  • Reduced professional accomplishment. It’s a feeling of inefficacy where an employee doubts their capability to progress or achieve at work.

Recognizing the signs of burnout

While exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced professional accomplishment are the core components of burnout, they are manifested in other physical, behavioral, and mental symptoms.

Symptoms may vary from one person to another.

The first step in overcoming burnout is to detect and acknowledge the situation and recognize the symptoms and signs of burnout.

Common signs of job burnout:

  • The feeling of physical and mental exhaustion, fatigue, and overwhelmedness
  • An obvious decline in your job performance and achievement
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • These symptoms are related to work, not personal issues
  • A feeling of carelessness on job issues and that you no longer belong or are not competent enough for this place 
  • Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
  • Isolation from people working with you

Exploring the causes of job burnout

Job burnout is not the result of a single situation but of an accumulation of exposure to many stressors and exhausting experiences. 

When work demands are never-ending and not fairly distributed, and there is no time to take a break, this prevents employees from maintaining a healthy work-life balance and thus get exhausted, and then, in the long run, they become burnt out. Surprisingly, “underloading” is also a cause of burnout because of boredom in the absence of meaningful work.

Lack of effective communication between employees and managers increases the sense of stress. Employees feel they do not know much about their organization, and they do not hear feedback about their performance.

Read more: Transforming Workplace Tension Into Team Success 

Role ambiguity and role conflict are job characteristics that instinctive burnout. Having an unclear job description triggers job burnout, i.e., when an employee experiences role ambiguity where they do not know what, how, and why they are doing their job.

Personal challenges are also a factor in developing burnout. The major challenge is the inability to achieve a balance between work and family, so your family accuses you of not caring enough. Other challenges include financial hardship and the inability to cope with daily stressors.

The consequences of job burnout

Although job burnout is work-related, it affects personal domains by experiencing higher work-family conflicts.

All pressure of burnout is translated into physical and psychological diseases. Studies have shown that burnout leads to insomnia, mental disorders like depression, and physical issues like headaches, back pain, and stomachaches.

The American Psychological Association mentioned in one of its articles a series of statistics about the impact of job burnout on health. Job burnout contributes to higher levels of Type 2 diabetes by 84%, hypertension by 40%, and depressive disorders by 180%. It also increases the rate of sick leaves in offices to a period that exceeds 14 days by 57%.

Employees who suffer from burnout experience a decline in their job performance in the workplace. They are less engaged in work and tend to resign more. Burnout causes higher levels of absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover, which leads to direct costs for organizations. Managers must also be agents of change with employees.

Strategies to treat burnout

Overcoming work burnout is necessary because it is “contagious.” The phenomenon of burnout is not a unidimensional one, so uniting efforts are needed to combat it. The earlier you intervene to solve the problem of burnout, the more likely you are to recover! 

Employee-centric approaches

To prevent or intervene in curing burnout, you must acknowledge that you bear a responsibility towards yourself through self-care, striving for work-life balance, and combating procrastination.

The spillover between your personal and professional domains alleviates burnout. Thus, you need to plan your life well to address and fulfill your needs from all domains. You can prepare a weekly flexible schedule and distribute work tasks, family and friends gatherings, self-care time, entertainment, and relaxation.

Read more: Tips for Finding Balance Between Work and Family 

Communicate your schedule with your family and friends to not expect anything from you at the time of work. Additionally, switch off your mobile phone and communication platforms after finishing your working hours so you can relax and get ready for another working day.

Consult AI to help you manage your workload, especially project management AI tools that can smartly arrange and divide the workload among you and your colleagues.

Read more: Boost Your Productivity with AI-Powered Tools 

In a podcast episode, Dr. Marieke Ledingham, a burnout researcher, proposed some efficient strategies for overcoming burnout in life. She advises us to avoid procrastination by avoiding excuses and setting SMART goals at work. Additionally, do not wait for others to celebrate your success; you must know how to motivate and reward yourself. 

Read more: Dr. Marieke Ledingham: The Trap of Job Burnout and Why We Should Overcome It | Work in Progress #11 

Employer-driven solutions

Employers have a big role in helping employees prevent and overcome mental exhaustion. They have the authority to refine work arrangements to ensure that employees are less stressed and more productive.

Some examples of efforts they can offer to foster a healthy work environment include:

  • Conducting surveys to detect the existence of burnout at the workplace and its causes;
  • Giving employees a degree of autonomy in work arrangements, such as hybrid or remote work settings;
  • Offering well-being services at the office, such as free therapy sessions;
  • Making employees feel rewarded and recognized both materially and morally;
  • Avoiding excessive workload and reconsidering dividing job tasks fairly.

Collaborative efforts

Social support is essential in overcoming burnout and depression. The support received by family members, colleagues, managers, and friends can reduce the risk of burnout. In the workplace, employees will be open to discussions and collaborate effectively if they feel supported. Incorporating employees into the problem-solving process and encouraging open and ongoing communication among all levels of an organization.

All organization members must care for each other. When they observe signs of job burnout in their colleagues, they must intervene, either by gently informing them or asking a specialist for help.

In conclusion 

Job burnout occurs due to chronic stress at work. It causes physical exhaustion, a strong feeling of detachment from work and colleagues, and a reduced sense of accomplishment. Its symptoms may be physical (exhaustion), behavioral (isolation from colleagues), mental (lack of concentration), or reduced job performance.

Overcoming burnout requires a multidimensional approach. On the employee side, they must eliminate procrastination and develop a healthy lifestyle. Employers need to reevaluate workload and give employees a range of flexibility. Additionally, social support and cooperation among employees and employers are also needed.

Now, it is your turn to make a real change and prioritize your well-being without sacrificing work quality.

The key answer is work-life balance, which requires collaboration between employers and employees. Discuss these solutions with your colleagues and try to implement them for a better working environment!

If you would like to see more resources on job burnout, check out the Personal Productivity Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Personal Productivity Science Labs today.

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