Understanding and Overcoming Burnout

by | Jun 20, 2023 | Podcast

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Understanding and overcoming burnout…you know that feeling when you’ve hit the wall, and the thought of going to work drains you of every ounce of energy? Burnout is a real struggle that can sneak up on even the most dedicated employees. In this episode of Reflect Forward: Advice From a CEO, we’ll explore the causes of burnout, practical steps you can take to address it, and how leaders can lend a helping hand.

Causes of Burnout

Burnout doesn’t magically appear overnight; it brews slowly, fueled by various factors. Here are a few common causes:

Excessive workload: When you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, it’s no surprise burnout might be lurking around the corner. Unrealistic deadlines, constant overtime, and a never-ending to-do list can all contribute to burnout.

Lack of control: Feeling you have no say in decision-making can be incredibly demoralizing. Burnout can creep in when you cannot influence your work environment or have a sense of autonomy.

Lack of recognition and reward: When employees consistently go above and beyond without receiving acknowledgment or appropriate rewards, it can lead to burnout. Feeling undervalued and underappreciated can chip away at motivation and ultimately result in exhaustion.

Poor work-life balance: Burnout can take hold when work precedes personal life and there is a constant struggle to find equilibrium. Sacrificing personal time, neglecting relationships, and neglecting self-care can leave individuals feeling drained and overwhelmed.

Poor internal communication: When communication within an organization is ineffective or lacking, it can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and unnecessary stress. Unclear expectations, misaligned priorities, and a lack of information flow can contribute to burnout among employees.

Lack of job satisfaction: Burnout can loom large when employees feel disconnected from their work or lack a sense of purpose. Performing monotonous tasks, feeling unchallenged, or experiencing a mismatch between skills and job responsibilities can drain motivation and lead to burnout.

Addressing Burnout as an Employee

Recognizing and addressing burnout is crucial for your well-being and professional growth. Here are some practical steps you can take:

Prioritize self-care: It’s essential to make time for yourself outside of work. Engage in activities that rejuvenate your mind and body, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish—it’s a necessary investment in your happiness.

Set boundaries: Learn to say “no” when your plate is full. Communicate your limits to your supervisor or team members, and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks or ask for support when needed. Remember, you’re human, not a superhero!

Seek support: Talk to someone you trust, whether a friend, family member or a therapist. They can offer an outside perspective and guidance to navigate your burnout journey.

Speak up: Raising your hand and letting your boss know what’s happening is important. It’s their job to listen and find ways to help prioritize and reduce workplace stress. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.

How Leaders Can Help

Leaders play a pivotal role in cultivating a positive work environment and preventing burnout among their team members. Here are some ways they can lend a helping hand:

Encourage open communication: Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing challenges, concerns, and workloads. Actively listen to their feedback and implement changes that align with their needs.

Promote work-life balance: Lead by example and encourage your team to prioritize their well-being. Encourage breaks, discourage excessive overtime, and ensure employees have time to recharge outside of work.

Provide growth opportunities: Help employees develop their skills and pursue professional growth. Training, mentoring, or new challenges can reignite their passion for work and prevent burnout.

Understanding and overcoming burnout isn’t easy, and burnout may seem unavoidable in our fast-paced work culture, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding the causes of burnout, taking proactive steps as individuals, and creating supportive environments as leaders, we can tackle this issue head-on.

Remember, you are not alone in this battle against burnout. Reach out to your support network, care for yourself, and advocate for your needs. And leaders, remember that your team’s well-being directly impacts their productivity and overall success. By fostering a healthy work environment, you can empower your employees to thrive and prevent burnout from taking its toll. The key to success is understanding and overcoming burnout.

Question of the Week

This question comes from one of my employees, and she asked, “How can I productively disagree with my colleagues?”

Great question! Disagreements don’t have to result in conflict. Instead, use them to build a stronger relationship. My suggestions:

  • Assume good intentions. Trust that the person has the best interest of the team and company in mind, even when you don’t agree with their ideas or comments. Give them the benefit of the doubt and hear them out.
  • Use the disagreement as a way to learn. Are you missing a critical piece of information? Are you sure you’ve considered all the possibilities? What can you learn from their perspective? What if your way isn’t the best?
  • Look for solutions. Instead of looking at the situation as black or white, look for ways to compromise to find a solution. Incorporate their ideas and suggestions into the outcome.
  • Pick your battles. You won’t always have to win or be right. Look for opportunities to let people try their way and support their efforts rather than silently sabotaging them because you didn’t get your way.
  • Never let a disagreement get personal. Ask questions, debate ideas, and disagree on policy, but never make it personal. Doing so shuts people down and damages relationships. How do you know if you are making it personal: It’s when you are trying to win the debate at all costs, when you resort to name-calling or use triggering language, when you attack the person or idea, or when you use the words “you are, you can’t, you should, you don’t, etc.”


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