According to a 2022 Glassdoor Survey, based on 382,000 anonymous employee reviews, burnout has increased by 48% on the previous year.
Burnout is a term that has infiltrated our day-to-day language over recent years, but do we properly understand what it is, how to recognise the signs in ourselves or how to support others?
What can cause burnout:
There are of course many different factors that can contribute to burnout. In some cases, it can be linked to a specific event, such as a particularly stressful project or a major life change. In other cases, it can be the result of long-term stress or a lack of balance between work and personal life.
Regardless of the cause, it's important to be familiar with the signs of burnout, so you can take steps to address it before it becomes a more serious problem. Some of the signs to look for are:
- Emotional Exhaustion – if you are feeling emotionally drained, you may be experiencing burnout. Examples of this would include feeling agitated, irritable, or overwhelmed.
- Detachment – this can show in spending more and more time away from social activities or feeling disconnected from work or personal life. You may be feeling like you are ‘going through the motions’ without any real sense of enjoyment, purpose or fulfilment.
- Physical Symptoms – examples of these can include feeling tired all the time, having trouble sleeping, experiencing headaches or even muscle pain. You may also notice that your immune system feels less able to fight off illness.
- Negative Attitude – perhaps you find yourself feeling resentful or critical of others - feeling like you aren’t making progress or being cynical about your work or personal life.
- Lack of Motivation – this may be manifesting itself in things such as task avoidance, over-procrastination, or a lack of care about your work or personal life.
- Dip in performance or productivity – as someone experiencing burnout might find it harder to focus on their tasks, be having trouble making decisions or may be making more mistakes than usual – this might show itself in a reduction in performance.
- Feeling overwhelmed – leading to a sense of helplessness or lack of control over your circumstances.
If you find yourself resonating with some of the above signs, you are not alone – according to research conducted by Westfield Health, 45% of UK workers are close to burnout.
This isn’t a localised issue either, with a Global Workplace report recently reporting that approximately 43% of people globally, experience burnout at some point.
So, what are the next steps if you think you are suffering from burnout? Some ideas to help you manage burnout would be:
- Set realistic expectations - many people tend to set overly high standards for themselves, which can naturally lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress. Try to focus on setting more realistic goals for yourself and celebrating your achievements along the way.
- Actively manage your time – working in sprints and taking regular breaks throughout the day can help you recharge and stay focussed on tasks whilst you are working. This will also help you actively to manage a healthy work-life balance.
- Learn to say “no” – a lot of people feel guilty saying “no”. It is however key to set boundaries and prioritise your own needs.
- Prioritise self-care – try to incorporate exercise, meditation, gratitude, or relaxation into your daily life – consider setting aside designated time to ensure you do something that will help you every day.
- Seek support – remember, if you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help – whether this be from a friend, family member, colleague or professional. Also reach out for help when you need it.
Perhaps you are reading this as a manager looking to support your team?
As well as encouraging them to follow the ideas above, the below are some of the things we do at Strive to help our employees:
- Monitoring annual leave – whilst we have unlimited annual leave at Strive, we do still monitor annual leave. This is to ensure people are taking regular breaks from the office, with us tracking on a quarterly basis how many days have been taken, and actively encouraging staff to take leave if they have used minimal amounts.
- Holding regular 1-2-1s with staff – and starting the conversation by asking how the person is. Too often 1-2-1s can be focused on KPIs, targets and performance - don’t underestimate the impact that asking someone how they are (and being truly interested in their response) can make to them.
- Leading by example – our owners and managers lead by example in terms of their time away from the office and setting boundaries for their availability – as well as their openness and honesty in terms of when they might be struggling or asking for help. We also have a Mental Health Toolkit available to all staff, which is regularly referred to, so all staff have access to external resources as well as the internal team.
- Holding ‘wellness’ events – working in sales, we all know the stresses that can come with the environment. The ‘tradition’ in such environments has been a ‘work hard play hard’ culture, which we all know is not the healthiest! We therefore shut the office routinely for wellness days, with some recent examples being a walk in the Lake District, an office closure day for staff to do an activity of their choice to support their mental health, and a recent round of incentives with the prize being a wellness voucher.
Burnout should be seen as a growing concern and it’s important for us all to be aware of the signs for both our personal mental health and to support our colleagues, employees or family members. By being aware of the signs and seeking support when we need it, we can reduce our risk of burnout and maintain our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.