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Workplace Burnout : 5 Causes and 6 Ways to Avoid

Burnouts at the workplace are becoming a common problem in today’s corporate environment. 

Workplace burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion due to prolonged or intense stress. It is a result of prolonged overworking and fatigue, which can lead to physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. 

Burnout can be caused by a number of factors, including long hours, too much workload, lack of appreciation, and insufficient rewards.

It can have serious implications for an individual’s health, career, and even relationships. It is important to understand the causes of burnouts and take steps to prevent it. 

Read this article to know about workplace burnout, causes of burnout, burnout symptoms, and how to avoid workplace burnout. 

“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  1. feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  2. increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  3. reduced professional efficacy.
Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases, World Health Organization 

Causes of Workplace Burnouts

1. Long Hours and Overworking

Working long hours and taking on too much work can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. It can cause you to feel overwhelmed and lead to burnout. 

2. Unclear Expectations

If the managers have not set the expectations from an employee clearly, it can be stressful for the employee and can lead to burnout. 

3. Lack of Recognition

Feeling that your efforts are not appreciated can be disheartening and can lead to burnouts. 

4. Unhealthy Competition

Trying to outperform your colleagues can be very stressful and can lead to burnouts. Quite frequently, organisations set rewards and recognition systems that promote absolute performance without consideration to individual growth. This can increase incidences of burnouts. 

5. Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is another factor that can lead to burnouts. This is when there is a conflict between what a person believes and how they act or feel. For example, if someone does not believe in a cause, and is still made to work on it, he will experience cognitive dissonance. This conflict can lead to stress, anxiety, and emotional and physical exhaustion.

Burnout Symptoms

Burnout can manifest in a variety of ways, both physical and mental. Common signs of burnout include:

1. Physical Symptoms

Lack of energy, changes in appetite, insomnia, muscle pain, headaches, and fatigue.

2. Emotional Symptoms

Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and low self-esteem.

3. Cognitive Symptoms

Difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, and difficulty making decisions.

4. Behavioural Symptoms

Withdrawing from work activities, increased absenteeism, and difficulty with relationships.

6 Ways to Avoid Burnouts

1. Prioritize Your Tasks: 

Prioritizing your tasks and focusing on the most important ones first can help you manage your workload better and reduce the chances of burnouts. 

2. Take Regular Breaks: 

Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help you relax, recharge and refocus. 

3. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: 

Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep can help you stay physically and mentally healthy, and prevent burnouts. 

4. Practice Mindfulness: 

Practicing mindfulness techniques such as yoga, deep breathing and meditation can help you stay focused and reduce stress. 

5. Improve Communication: 

Having clear communication with your employers and colleagues can help you understand each other’s expectations and reduce stress. 

6. Set Boundaries: 

Setting boundaries at work can help you manage your workload and prevent burnouts.

7. Set Goals and align them to your values to reduce Cognitive Dissonance

Setting goals as per your values and beliefs and taking jobs to achieve such goals will increase self-awareness, reduce cognitive dissonance and help you perform without stress.

4 Tips for founders to reduce workplace burnouts within employees

1. Prioritise Employee Wellbeing: 

It is essential for founders to prioritise their employees’ wellbeing by providing them with the necessary resources and support. This includes providing flexible working arrangements and regular time offs to let the employees rejuvenate their energies. 

2. Create a Positive Work Environment: 

Creating a positive work environment is key to avoiding burnouts. By fostering a culture of trust, respect, and recognition, employees can feel valued and motivated to succeed. A culture of cut-throat competition often leads to burnouts and does not create an environment for stable growth. 

3. Encourage Healthy Habits: 

It is important for founders to encourage their employees to practise healthy habits. This can include practising mindfulness and meditation, eating healthy, and getting regular exercise.

Some of the founders today are setting examples by encouraging healthy habits within employees. Like what Zerodha Founder Nithin Kamath did when he offered bonus to employees for reducing weight. 

4. Monitor Workload

Founders should monitor the workload of their employees and ensure that they are not being overworked or asked to take on too much.

Knowing these causes, symptoms and tips to avoid burnouts, you can be more engaged and deliver better. Let me know in comments if you have any stories to share around burnout.

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