Is This Happening To You?
Waking up in the morning can sometimes be challenging as everything seems too overwhelming — the brightness, noise, and pace of the world.
It seems like every noise is really bothering you, every bit of brightness is causing discomfort to your eyes, and every motion makes you feel uncomfortable.
Every night, you struggle to sleep, tossing and turning in search of rest.
Thinking about work makes you feel anxious. The routine you used to know now feels like a confusing maze of tasks.
Every email task seems incredibly hard. The motivation that used to burn brightly is now just a weak, flickering light.
As you head to work, your patience is stretched thin like a worn-out rope. Your colleagues’ voices irritate you, and your boss’s requests appear unreasonable, even absurd.
The most minor inconveniences trigger an explosive irritation within you. You wonder how you’ve become this person, unlike your former self.
Standing there, utterly exhausted and frustrated, you realize you’re on the verge of reaching a breaking point.
Are these your symptoms? If so, you may be experiencing a “burnout” state.
The term “burnout”, according to the World Health Organisation, is defined as a “syndrome resulting from a chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
Burnout is caused by chronic workplace stress, which can be low-level and irritating for months, if not years before a person realizes or is confronted by the problem.
If you have ever felt “stressed at work,” and who hasn’t? Chances are it’s because you thought you didn’t have enough time to do what you wanted.
Stress often results from feeling “stuck” in a particular time frame. You can feel this frustration and irritation because you are focusing exclusively on the demands of the moment — The requests, the challenges and the events. They are all piling up with no break.
Those who are stressed and burned out have little understanding of how “urgency” and “importance” control their decision-making about what to do with their time.
Let’s explore some scenarios…
To-do lists are pervasive tools that employees employ to manage their time. They work their tail off to complete every task on their to-do list.
Unfortunately, most to-do lists are filled with “urgent” tasks. They require your attention at the moment, but rarely are they essential — the things that make a difference in the long term.
Urgency seems to control our lives. The phone rings, and we have to pick it up. It now becomes urgent if the phone call is important. This alone breaks your concentration and effectiveness.
The worst interruptions are meetings. They are typically scheduled like TV shows. The agendas are vague, and no one understands the goal. They tend to drift off subject, wasting everyone’s time. It’s too bad if it only requires five minutes to accomplish the objective. Meetings tend to stretch to an hour…and then the next meeting is ready to go.
According to the Global Workplace Burnout Study, burnout is a growing industry problem.
There are three dimensions to burnout:
What Causes Burnout?
There are three conditions:
* The 2021 Global Workplace Burnout Study by Infinite Potential
What are the impacts of an employee who is exhibiting burnout?
As stated earlier, “burnout” is caused by unmanaged chronic workplace stress.
Stress at work that is ongoing and low level causes the feeling of burnout.
People are the main drivers of organisational success, and the health of the organisation is a crucial determinant of productivity and quality of work.
There is a significant gap in the productivity and quality of work between those who are burnt out and those who are not. (Source: According to the State of Workplace Burnout 2023 by Infinite Potential)
However, productivity is not the only outcome of people being burned out.
Employee burnout is a threat to your organisation, and this could be the case for several reasons. If your employees do the bare minimum, they may find achieving “cyber hygiene” difficult.
For example, they may skip necessary security steps like creating smart passwords, updating their computer with critical security updates, clicking on URL links or opening attachments that they shouldn’t be opening.
They will simply be unable to care or pay attention to threats such as phishing and other social engineering attacks.
But it gets worse.
It can compromise an employee’s ability to focus and make sound decisions, which can be particularly problematic in safety-sensitive industries.
It can lead to a sense of detachment and disengagement from work.
Burnout can have significant negative impacts on an employee’s physical and mental health. It can increase stress, anxiety, depression, physical health problems and weakened immune systems.
Those who suffer can strain relationships with colleagues due to increased irritability, reduced communication, and diminished teamwork. This can negatively affect the overall work environment and team cohesion.
Strained relationships and difficulty focusing and working will most likely lead to increased absenteeism. Those who are burned out are more likely to seek new job opportunities.
Those who suffer and feel poorly cared for and supported by management may lash out against their colleagues or organisations, causing significant harm.
Examples Of Possible Scenario: Software Engineer Causes Software Outage
A software engineer at a large tech company felt burned out after working long hours and having unrealistic deadlines. He started making mistakes at work, such as submitting code with bugs and missing important meetings. He also became withdrawn and irritable, which made it difficult for him to collaborate with his team.
One day, the engineer made a critical mistake that caused a major outage in the company’s software.
The outage cost the company millions of dollars in lost revenue and customer goodwill. The engineer was eventually fired, and the company implemented new policies to prevent employee burnout in the future.
Other Possible Examples:
Are You A Workaholic?
Are you staying at work late into the night? Or perhaps you are bringing your work back home? Do you find it challenging to disengage from work?
The term “workaholism” was defined by psychologist Wayne Oates back in 1971 as a compulsion or an uncontrollable need to work incessantly.
Work “addiction” is a complex condition in which an individual develops a mental, emotional, and social dependence on work.
People with work addiction often work compulsively at the expense of other aspects of their lives. They may work long hours even when it is not needed, sacrifice sleep to get work done, and be paranoid about their work performance.
Can A Workaholic Drive Burnout More Readily?
Burnout and workaholism are both conditions that can have a negative impact on an individual’s physical and mental health.
The main difference between burnout and workaholism is that burnout is caused by excessive stress, while workaholism is driven by a compulsive need to work.
Burnout can happen to anyone, regardless of their work ethic. On the other hand, workaholism is often a sign of underlying psychological issues, such as anxiety or depression.
A workaholic is more likely to experience burnout than someone who does not work excessively.
Workaholics are at risk for burnout because they tend to:
These behaviours can lead to chronic stress, eventually leading to burnout.
According to “State Of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report” by Gallup it reveals frightening figures that 28% of workers say that they feel burned out at work either “very often” or “always and that only 24% of employees believe their organisation cares about their wellbeing.
Why Is This Important?
As we can see, a considerable group of employees are minimally productive, disengaged, and disconnected from their organisation.
And we have learned that stress is one of the critical anchors that drive employees to be burned out.
According to the same Gallup report, 44% of employees experienced a lot of stress.
The Gallup analysis continued that engagement has 3.8 times as much influence on employees’ stress. In other words, what people experience in their everyday work – their feelings of involvement and enthusiasm.
Low-engagement workers represent an uncertain situation for organisations, driving low morale, high turnover, and increasing costs to the business, potentially causing reputation damage due to poor performance and thereby losing their competitive advantage.
There Is, However, An Upside To This Situation.
As organisational leaders endeavour to navigate an uncertain economic outlook, addressing their employee wellbeing concerns and improving engagement should be top priorities.
Leadership and management directly influence workplace engagement, and there is much that organisations can do to help their employees thrive at work.
2021 Global Workplace Burnout Study – https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/6c37d4f0-7b8a-4dd3-afb8-0a1b504af624/2021%20Workplace%20Burnout%20Study-%20Final.pdf
The State of Workplace Burnout 2023 – https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/6c37d4f0-7b8a-4dd3-afb8-0a1b504af624/The%20State%20of%20Workplace%20Burnout%202023%20v7%20(1).pdf