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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Kalinowski

Dealing With Burnout at Work: What You Need to Know

Updated: Dec 7, 2023



Recognize the symptoms and regain control over your work-life balance.

“I’ve just been feeling really burnt out recently.” Unfortunately, we hear this more than ever at the moment. And the situation is only getting worse. One study from Asana investigating burnout and imposter syndrome in knowledge workers found seven in ten employees to have experienced burnout or imposter syndrome in the last year.


Dealing with burnout is a major challenge for many businesses. When employees begin to feel excessively stressed, defeated, and start feeling hopeless, it’s not only a cause for concern — but it can impact their work (and their colleagues).


If burnout finds a way into the office, it’s difficult to lock the door on it.


This blog post will explain what job burnout is, what the common symptoms are, and then give tips on how to prevent burnout for both employees and employers.



What is job burnout?

Lindsay Johnson, Founder and CEO of FitPros, describes burnout as “feeling exhausted, unmotivated, and drained. You may also feel a lack of satisfaction from your work.” Further, you may no longer enjoy your job, and your lack of energy may translate to your work performance.


But who does job burnout affect? Job burnout can affect anyone. However, some people are more at risk. For example, a poor work-life balance, a lack of control, and unclear job expectations can all increase your risk of burnout.


What are the symptoms of burnout?

There are a few common burnout symptoms you want to look out for. If you notice one or multiple of these symptoms, then you might be at risk of job burnout. If you notice several of these symptoms, then you might already be burnt out.


Symptoms of burnout include:


  • A lack of motivation

  • Trouble sleeping (falling asleep and waking in the night)

  • A lack of energy

  • Little to no satisfaction from your job

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Stomach pains, headaches, or other (new) physical problems

  • A lack of belief in your ability to perform your job


These are just a few of the symptoms. Job burnout can manifest itself in numerous ways. But these are the key ones to watch out for! If you notice any other changes, then it’s a good idea to speak to your boss to dial back the work to prevent full-blown burnout.


(We highlight the 5 stages of burnout later in this article.)

A few possible causes of job burnout

We’ve covered some possible causes of job burnout already, but burnout can result from several factors. That being said, below are some of the more common causes of burnout at work.


Working too many hours

One of the key driving factors of burnout is working too many hours/doing too much.


The increased workload causes stress, especially if you’re overreaching and trying to do too much. Sometimes, this is inevitable. We all have days and weeks where we have more projects to complete, might get into the office an hour earlier, or take on that extra project when we know we shouldn’t.


To resolve working too many hours, try to plan your workload better. Prioritize the most important tasks and delegate what you can. Even still, you may be buried under one too many projects.


If this is you, it’s a good idea to speak to your boss. Let them know you’ve got too much on your plate. Besides, even with the best time management and planning, too much work is still too much work.


You’ll find this spilling into other areas of your life — falling into stage 2 of burnout.


A lack of control at work

Feeling a lack of control at work (and outside of work) is not healthy. If your manager is calling you outside of work hours or emailing to ask you to “make a few quick changes to that document,” and you feel as if you need to reply immediately, then your work-life balance is out of the window.


So how do you resolve it? For those who avoid conflict, this can be tough. But more often than not, a quick conversation goes a long way. Johnson tells us, “Have a conversation with your boss. Tell them how you feel and set some clear boundaries. They may not realize what they’re asking you to do, so communicating your needs and boundaries can help get you back on the same page.”


And if they ignore your request and continue to email you at 2 am, then perhaps it’s time to find a new job…


The rewards don’t match the effort output

If you commonly find yourself the hardest worker in the room but others are rewarded more than you, this can be frustrating. You may feel unappreciated, and this may be reflected in a lack of pay or a lack of promotion.


Maybe you’re spending extra time outside of work to complete tasks, but are met with a simple “thanks” come Monday morning at 9 am or worse, no response or recognition whatsoever.


When the rewards don’t match the output of effort, you risk job burnout.


If you’re an employer, this is an easy one to fix. Pay more attention to your team, invest in them, make them feel appreciated, and sit down and find a way to personally thank them for the extra work during those excessively busy periods.


Misaligned values

If your values don’t match those of the employer or workplace, then it can be difficult to stay motivated. For example, if you don’t believe in the product you sell or the service you provide, then you’re going against your virtues daily.


How does your team or boss make decisions? Do they involve you in the process? How do you feel about the decisions? And how do you feel about the company as a whole?


This possible cause of burnout is a little more difficult to fix than the others. If you believe in different things and your values are misaligned, then you’re likely fighting an uphill battle.

A lack of community

Water cooler chat is not for everyone — but for others, it creates community.


And with more people than ever working from home, there’s even less talk and no water cooler. If your team rarely sees each other or only works remotely, then you’ll struggle to feel a part of the community. This is especially true for remote employees who join the company as a late hire.


Getting your team together and building chemistry is great for business. But how do you do it, especially if you have remote or hybrid workers?


FitPros brings your team together by hosting a mix of health talks, fitness classes, and team building activities (both virtual and on-site). We find out what gets your team going and provide activities for social bonding.

The 5 stages of job burnout


Some experts will tell you there are 12 stages of burnout, others 5. We’re going with the 5 stages, which are as follows:

The honeymoon phase

During the honeymoon phase, stress begins to accumulate but the employee remains optimistic and full of energy and satisfaction. As the name suggests, this unwavering optimism does not last.


The stress begins to accumulate and, with too few coping strategies, sends us to the next stage of job burnout…

Stress Onset

The optimism is starting to wear off, and the employee begins to realize that some days are more difficult than others. They may begin to experience anxiety, irritability, and other common early signs of burnout. It can become more difficult to focus, and their mental and physical health begin to suffer. Chronic Stress

Instead of feeling some motivation, stress is the main emotion the employee feels on a very regular basis. While trying to balance the stress, they begin to feel persistent tiredness (even when sleeping plenty), and sometimes anger or other aggressive behavior, and begin to withdraw from social activities and hobbies.

Burnout

At this point, the employee reaches burnout. It becomes increasingly difficult to cope with the stress, and the previous symptoms become worse. Behavioral changes are likely, and that’s when satisfaction wavers and personal needs are usually neglected further.


The employee will experience other symptoms and burnout problems previously discussed.

Habitual burnout

Habitual burnout has been going on for a while — this is also the final stage of burnout and the most difficult to escape. The symptoms of burnout are embedded into the employee’s life. They feel permanent stress, chronic fatigue, and may experience other physical and mental side effects or even mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.

How do you overcome burnout at work For employees

  • Talk to your boss: Let them know you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or burnt out — they can help.

  • Prioritize self-care: Eat healthy, exercise regularly, and Prioritize taking care of your mental and physical health.

  • Learn to say no: Avoid taking on too much extra work to prevent overwhelm and additional stress.

  • Take breaks throughout the day: It may feel like if you stop, you’ll fall behind, but take scheduled breaks throughout the day. You’ll feel better for it!

  • Set clear work boundaries: Have those difficult conversations and set boundaries. Leave work at work.

For employers

  • Promote work/life balance: Lead by example and set clear boundaries for your employees.

  • Encourage employees to take vacation days: Oftentimes, although entitled to them, employees feel bad and don’t take their vacation days. Prompt them to do so!

  • Promote mental health days: Let your employees know it’s okay to take the day off for mental health.

  • Provide flexible scheduling: Let your workers work how they work best, whether from home, in the office, or a mix of both. Let them schedule to suit their lifestyle vs. against it.

  • Better manage workloads: Avoid micromanaging — but be present and better organize workloads so no one person is overworked.

  • Recognize and reward success: Celebrate the wins and recognize those employees who go above and beyond.


For more tips on how to beat burnout, you can read our 3 ways to beat burnout blog post.


Should I tell my boss I am burnt out?


Seeking support is one of the best things you can do if you’re feeling burnt out. Although it may be a difficult conversation to have, your manager is there to help you succeed.


Talk to them if you’re feeling very stressed or have too much on your plate. They can likely help you by offloading a few projects or providing other solutions to help you get back on track.


How to prevent burnout (employers)

There is no secret sauce to help prevent burnout in your workplace. But there are many things you can do to keep it at the door.


For starters, we’d recommend following the advice in this article. Next, consider implementing a workplace wellness program. FitPros supports your employee's health and happiness — we design and engage your employees with a mix of sessions, from health talks to meditation, fitness classes, and team building activities.


We’re trusted by world-leading companies, and we’d love for you to join us. Talk to us today and find out how FitPros can help you prevent burnout and promote health and happiness at your place of work.


FAQs

Should I quit my job if I’m burnt out?

For most, quitting should be your last option. First, talk to your manager and seek help.

Am I burnt out or lazy?

Laziness is by choice; burnout is more a sense of chronic fatigue where it’s very difficult to get things done. We encourage you to read up on burnout to see if you experience the many side effects.



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