Many people are currently confronting a harsh realization that unless they acquire the skills to attend to their own well-being, they will experience burnout.
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It is not limited to any industry or position in the workplace – it can affect everyone. According to the Anatomy of Work Index, 63% of knowledge workers experienced burnout at least once in 2020, and those numbers are only rising. Of those workers, 46% of respondents cited being overworked as a key factor contributing to burnout. The symptoms of burnout can include feelings of cynicism, detachment, and a decrease in professional self-esteem, often leading to increased absences and ineffectiveness in the workplace.
The effects of burnout on working life can be devastating.
It can lead to decreased job satisfaction, loss of work motivation, and even job loss. Additionally, burnout can have a negative impact on mental health, leading to conditions such as depression and anxiety, which impact personally and professionally.
One of the key factors of combating burnout in the workplace is to identify it before it happens.
The earlier burnout and the factors that may cause it are identified, the easier it is to manage and recover from. One way to identify the risk of burnout is through the Maslach Burnout Toolkit™, which combines the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) & Areas of Worklife Survey (AWS). MBI measures burnout and consists of three dimensions: emotional exhaustion (lost energy), cynicism (lost enthusiasm), and professional efficacy (lost confidence). The AWS assesses employee perceptions of workplace attributes that may contribute to burnout or work disengagement and emphasizes six factors including workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values. The AWS is designed to be used in conjunction with the MBI and provides information about organizational factors that may contribute to employee burnout or engagement. This toolkit makes it possible to identify the factors that can contribute to burnout and prompt you to take preventive action.
Individuals need to take care of their own needs…
The fact is, it is impossible to dedicate yourself to creating the life you want, without taking care of your own needs (mental, physical, emotional, ect.).
One of the best ways to prevent burnout in both your personal and professional life is to prioritize “me time”. This means taking time to rest and recharge, and doing things that bring pleasure and are restorative. It also means setting realistic goals and boundaries, and learning to say ‘no’ when necessary. It is important to understand that taking care of yourself and your own well-being is not selfish.
…but burnout prevention is also a team effort
While there are individual actions we can take to address burnout factors, many of us work within organizations meaning we need to take others into consideration. To improve workplace perceptions that may lead to burnout or disengagement, organizations can take specific steps using the AWS model. When organizations prioritize healthy workload, provide employees with a sense of control, recognize and reward their contributions, foster a sense of community, practice fairness, and offer autonomy in work content, employees are less likely to experience burnout.
In conclusion, the key to preventing burnout is to identify it before it happens. Once you have identified stressors or mental exhaustion, take some time for yourself. In organizations, promoting work-life balance, creating a sense of community and support can improve people’s feelings towards their work significantly. By prioritizing self-care, individuals can take steps to prevent burnout and maintain their well-being, but preventing burnout is not only the responsibility of individuals, it is a team effort, and organizations need to take proactive measures to promote wellbeing.