The stories are numerous. At age 47, Amos was steadily making his way up the corporate ladder. During his tenure with the company, he had been promoted from manager to director to Vice President of Human Resources. Amos had attained his dream job.
Six months after assuming his new responsibilities, the company began to have serious financial difficulties. Amos was informed that he would have to terminate his entire team. His workload tripled in an instant. Already burning the midnight oil to get it all done, he continued to push himself to the brink. Within a few months, he’d reached complete exhaustion.
The American Institute of Stress defines burnout as “a disabling reaction to stress on the job.” Aside from being painful for employees, burnout is expensive and can be devastating to companies because oftentimes it is the top performers who are affected. The institute estimates that job stress costs U.S. industries $300 billion annually, as measured by absenteeism; decreased productivity; employee turnover; and direct medical, legal, and insurance fees.
While overwork and stress are certainly key factors, the reasons for burnout are varied and complex. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) cites job insecurity, little or no support from bosses and coworkers, lack of job control, and an inability to participate in decision making.
Once you begin to understand the factors and symptoms that come with job burnout, it’s essential that you begin to protect yourself from the lurking danger.
Five things to do at home:
1. Clearly define boundaries between work and private life.
2. Get regular exercise.
3. Eat healthy food.
4. Sleep at least eight hours a night.
5. Refresh and replenish your creative tank.
Five things to do at work:
1. Get organized.
2. Learn to say “no.”
3. Schedule time off.
4. Set defined work hours.
5. Know your stressors.
Remember that job burnout is a gradual process. It is both a psychological and physical response to your work. And the end result is loss of enthusiasm or lack of control, and finally, giving up or resigning.
While we’ve examined all the potential pitfalls that come from being mired in burnout – it can also be an opportunity. Burnout offers us a chance to re-examine our lives, our careers, our workplaces, and planning where we are going. It’s up to you to create a true work/life balance and assertively find opportunities that help promote a healthy career and lifestyle.