Recognizing and Stopping Office Burnout


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Irrespective of industry, pay grade, or job title, burnout continues to increase in the workplace. In fact, burnout has reportedly increased 24 percent from 2020, according to a recent study.

“Burnout” isn’t just a word we use to describe exhaustion; it’s a state of mind resulting from long periods of stress that negatively affect both your work and life. And while it isn’t considered a medical diagnosis, the factors contributing to burnout can certainly lead to a medical diagnosis like depression or anxiety.

What are the main causes of burnout?

Understanding the causes of burnout is important for employees, managers, and colleagues to help prevent it.

  • Lack of control
    • When employees feel powerless to influence decisions related to their jobs, schedule, assignment, and workload, this can lead to job burnout.
  • Unclear job expectations
    • When employees are unclear about their supervisor’s expectations, they are not as likely to feel comfortable at work.
  • Extremes in activity
    • When a job becomes too chaotic or too monotonous, this can affect an employee’s energy, replacing optimism and motivation with fatigue and listlessness.
  • Workplace dysfunction
    • Another possible cause for burnout is a dysfunctional workplace dynamic. This could be because an employee feels undermined by colleagues or micromanaged by his or her boss – both situations that can lead to job stress.
  • Lack of social support
    • If an employee feels isolated at work and in their personal life this may lead to even greater feelings of stress.
  • Work-life imbalance
    • One of the important causes of job burnout is work-life imbalance. If work begins to take up too much of the employee’s time and energy, they won’t feel as energized or motivated to spend time with friends and family – and this could quickly lead to burnout.

How do you help prevent burnout?

Above all, the best way to prevent job burnout is to educate employees about mindfulness. Mindfulness is the process of becoming more aware of what one is sensing or feeling in every moment. This can be relevant in the workplace as employees face situations with openness and patience and without judgment. Employees who are better connected to how they are feeling in any given situation can better navigate it. It is important to take time for yourself. At First American, we offer online Yoga classes once a week and employees can take classes on demand at any time.

Another preventative tool is workplace wellbeing. Creating an empowered workspace with employees’ wellbeing at its core can be vastly beneficial in each employee’s overall mental health as well as their stress levels. Creating and nurturing a healthy environment for everyone can lead to better employee satisfaction as well as overall mood. At First American we have a wellbeing site where employees are encouraged to participate in challenges that involve exercise, eating right, and meditation.

Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that provide support in various areas such as feeling stressed – work or personal, feeling anxious, feeling depressed, childcare assistance, and financial concerns.

Additionally, encouraging a harmonious work environment by allowing employees to take the time to truly unplug from work can also help prevent burnout.

With our new remote work environment continuing into 2022, job burnout is increasingly becoming an important topic in the workplace. That’s because employees are experiencing higher numbers of hours, more stress, and a heavier workload – all while “unplugging” becomes more difficult.

Mind Tools put it simply in an article written about burnout: “When it comes to avoiding burnout, remember four important concepts: Work with a purpose, give to others, exercise more and learn how to manage stress and perform a job analysis and eliminate or delegate unnecessary work.”

I encourage all workplace leaders to check in with their employees regularly to see if they are experiencing any of the common factors that lead to employee burnout – then use these preventative tools to help decrease this phenomenon in the workplace.



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