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Preventing Burnout at Work

Posted by admin 4:07 am, 18 May 2015

Many people experience ‘burnout’ in their work life. Burnout refers to a feeling of low motivation, low energy and feeling like you are unable to cope with the demands of your job or of life in general.  Research shows that burnout has three main components: Exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency. Often burnout begins with pure exhaustion and a loss of energy. This may because someone works very hard without proper relaxation breaks or time off, or it may be because there is a lack of job satisfaction or achievement. Often people feel worn out, are unmotivated, achieve less and therefore feel ineffective and cynical and are more likely to get depressed.

People often do not want to admit to feeling that they experiencing burnout as they feel that others might label them as “lazy” or “not good at their job”. It’s important to banish the idea that burnout is due to a personal failing. Research actually suggests that poor management practices, ‘workplace unfairness’, lack of control at work, unrealistic expectations of employees, feeling unappreciated and poor job designs are leading causes. The term “burnout” was first coined by a psychologist who used it to describe professionals in health care and social work who felt that they were under-resourced in a dysfunctional public system. It is often the way that people feel when they are not able to achieve what they want to at work due to sheer exhaustion or being in an emotionally demanding or stressful job. It is often caused by roles that require people to be supportive to others or maintain a professional appearance to clients or customers. Insufficient rest, poor self-care and job dissatisfaction are other common causes of burnout. Research has suggested that good communication and socialising with work colleagues at work can prevent burn out.

Tips to prevent burnout

  • Self-care  is crucial: Including rest, socialising, exercise, nutrition and sleep
  • Take your personal leave: Holidays, rest and sick leave are important
  • Have a ritual to switch off at the end of the day e.g. a bath, exercise, not bringing work home, switching off your work phone
  • Communicate with your manager and colleagues about workload and stressors at work
  • Support a social working environment as this prevents burnout
  • Feelings of unfairness at work to management