You are barely a year into your high-paying job, sitting and staring at the computer and thinking—what am I doing here? You dread the phone ringing or the sound of your immediate supervisor whining about some task or the other, then it is time to have a rethink about where your career is going. Work is a chore that you dread picking up, and you break out in a sweat thinking about it, then definitely you are experiencing work fatigue or job burnout.
A recent Deloitte survey revealed that 77% of employees had experienced burnout at their current job. Of these, 51% said they have felt burned out at their job more than once, and 84% said they are not passionate about their work.
The World Health Organization added burnout at work to their latest revised International Classification of Diseases (ICD) as an occupational phenomenon, also noting that they were going to start developing “evidence-based guidelines on mental health in the workplace.” They define burnout as follows:
Job Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
According to a 2018 Gallup report, a majority of organizations are facing a burnout crisis.
The prevalence of remote work due to the pandemic was hailed as a life saver and precursor to a more relaxed work-life balance in the future. But sadly, the reality is not as expected. People are reporting more cases of workplace stress and burnout, due to the constant demand for video conferencing and meetings and a blurring of work and home life boundaries. The effects of long working hours and no downtime at home or away from the profession can be exhausting.
What are the telltale signs of a person having reached the end of his or her tether?
A disturbed sleep pattern. Inability to sleep and even if you do manage to fall asleep, one gets up tired and cranky as one does not feel fully rested.
Another symptom of burnout is a constant feeling of fatigue and very low energy levels throughout the day.
Burnout can also manifest in migraines, a physical feeling of inability to breath, people even start reporting panic attacks.
A women executive at a law firm reported feeling a strong tingling sensation on one side of her face, which developed into shooting pains, and an inability to see from one eye. Finally, after a few doctor’s visits, she was diagnosed with a migraine brought on by exhaustion and its hormonal changes.
What is the answer to this malaise? How do you convey to your boss that you are feeling burned out?
The most obvious answer is to put in your papers and resign. However, a better way would be to have a conversation with your employer about it.
If you exhibit the signs of burnout, being honest with your manager about your high stress levels, your heavy workload, and your overall job burnout will be better for both of you in the long run.
Once you have had that difficult conversation, talk about how to handle it. Ask for guidance on how to level up your time management skills, streamline tasks, and prioritize more effectively.
Reassign some of your responsibilities, offer to help with the transition and provide regular guidance to whoever takes over.
You can ask for some time out to sort things out, or utilize the counseling services available. In short, you need to make use of all the resources at your disposal to find a viable solution.
Reason for the burnout
First and foremost, find out why you are experiencing burnout. Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you were assigned, or did you take on too much? Do you have any work relationships that are causing you stress or processes that are hindering your productivity? Take a moment to diagnose what might be causing you to feel burned out so that you talk about how to handle it.
Needs and solutions
Based on your self-diagnosis, identify the things that need to be handled to alleviate these feelings. If you are over worked and need some downtime or fewer hours at work, then establish set hours for when you are available for meetings.
Prioritize tasks and pass on some work to your other team members or establish a collaborative workflow.
Speak up for yourself
You have to speak up about the crisis that burnout is causing in your life. Talk openly about your crowded to-do list, or how work is dumped on you. Suggest some unpaid time off, if your employer is not agreeable to major changes.
There are many ways that employers can chip in to bring down the effect of this burnout pandemic, which if left attended, can lead to trillions of dollars in losses.
Offer a support system where employees can freely talk about work issues, including feeling overwhelmed, a mentorship program at work is also found to be effective.
These are just basic steps that can go a long way in distressing the workforce.