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How To Avoid Workplace Burnout

Defining the workplace of the future is an exciting frontier to explore. As a positive psychology coach, I fear that if we don’t consider mental and emotional wellbeing, the future of work will be defined by an overreaction to our most enormous struggles. If our struggles define us, the future workplace could be complex. When we analyze challenges like “quiet quitting” and the “great resignation”, I see them as symptoms of a larger problem. For example, take workplace burnout and its adverse effects on many in recent years. We live under constant stress and anxiety. It’s no wonder a large percentage of middle management is reporting burnout. Burnout occurs when associates feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet the demands of their job. Poor wellbeing has severe consequences for both associates and their employers.

When we dig a bit deeper, we can find that there are three “dimensions” of burnout:

  • Exhaustion: Refers to physical, mental, and emotional fatigue caused by long-term stress.

  • Cynicism: Refers to the feeling of detachment and apathy towards work.

  • Inefficiency: Refers to decreased motivation and productivity due to burnout.

It’s no wonder workplace burnout has serious consequences, including decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and reduced job satisfaction. This sounds like the root cause of a growingly disengaged workforce. It can also cause physical and mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease. But of course, you already know and have experienced people close to you battling many of these symptoms.

Fortunately, there are several steps employers and associates can take to prevent burnout from defining the future of our work and the organizations we get to serve.

Here are the top 5 ways we can work together to avoid workplace burnout:

  1. Schedule/Take regular breaks. Regular breaks throughout the day help reduce stress and allow you to recharge. From our recent pulse surveys, I’ve found that associates who work hard need the freedom to take modest breaks to regroup and get it together.

  2. Set realistic goals and bring on the small wins. Setting realistic goals can help you stay focused and motivated while you continue to achieve the next right thing. I’ve always found that accomplishing important tasks boosts my mood and offers renewed energy in times of stress.

  3. Work on what is essential and prioritize. To do this, create a list of tasks and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. By focusing on what is essential and accomplishing that each week, you will gain workday momentum that will carry over into your weekend!

  4. Set boundaries and learn when to say NO. This is tricky as many employers have made strategic cuts leaving more work to accomplish with less support. This forces us to ensure we don’t take on too much and learn to say no to avoid feeling overwhelmed. As an employer, we need to listen and not assign too much work to one person. This is not the season to be a pass-the-work-like-a-hot-potato kind of leader.

  5. Foster a positive work environment. A positive work environment can help reduce stress and create a more productive workplace. Strengthen interpersonal connections through reliable communications and relationships. Don’t add extra work to people’s lives to stir up positivity. Rather, connect with people and encourage a positive mindset whenever possible. Never let your teams forget the mission or the why of the work.

By taking these steps, employers and associates can help prevent workplace burnout and ensure a productive and healthy workplace. The future of work will be defined by those who are best positioned to work together and bring out the best in others. We have a long way to go to define what the future looks like. Let’s come together and make our future on we are proud to place our signature upon.


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