Help With Professional Burnout Syndrome


Know when you're suffering from Burnout?

Professional Burnout Syndrome is something we all could do with learning about. There is such a high percentage of people leaving jobs or taking time off work without knowing the deeper reason for it, so armed with a bit of know-how on the subject can help you to notice when it's occurring and nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand.

You can get Burnout while you're self employed, as an employee or employer but in this example let's pret you are an employee. The features of Burnout are the same where ever you stand.

You started your job with great enthusiasm. You had the skills required, you wanted to do the job and do it well. You had aspirations of where you could take it and confidence that you'd be able to add something valuable to the company.

But as time wears on, the honeymoon period faded and a new kind of reality has set in.

The demands on your time and energy are now exceptionally high. Long hours are the norm in this company and anyone leaving at the end of their shift when their pay stops is considered not pulling their weight. "Loyalty" is when you put in a whole lot more hours for no extra pay. You feel exhausted and it's starting to affect your life outside working hours. You feel you're not well rewarded for the effort you put in.

You have ideas that could improve the running of your job or what would streamline how each one works. But these are not listened to or acted upon. Everyone's too busy trying to keep up with their own mammoth workload. Nothing changes. You feel unimportant and undervalued.

As others around you suffer in a similar way morale is plummeting. Gossip, cliques, cat fights, pettiness, competitiveness and stress become the norm. This team of people is no fun to hang out with. Those who do not perform are quickly replaced so you can not build a good deep working relationship with other team members. This can give you the feeling of being isolated.

To protect yourself you start getting cynical. If it's so easy to get fired, there's no point building bonds with others or getting too attached to this company or the job, right? So now, you're feeling a lack of control, leave work every day unfulfilled and wake up each morning with dread hanging over you.

Your immunity drops. Aches, pains and illness are more frequent than they were before. Pressure to perform is high. "You're only as good as your last job" is the in-house slogan. Boy, that's pressure. No bad hair days allowed. If you have one you could be out on the streets and with competition for good jobs running high you could be out of work for a while so financial stress becomes a fear. This builds a feeling of insecurity.

When you went for this job it felt like a perfect match. Now it feels as well matched as a second hand shoe … On the wrong foot.

My goodness! What a depressing story and yet, it's so common. If all this sounds familiar, you find yourself exhausted all the time, disillusioned, lacking the spunk you had when you started the job, then it's highly possible you're suffering from Professional Burnout.

In this negative state of mind, now is not necessarily the time I would suggest you quit and look for a new job. Nor quit the industry and go drive a delivery truck. If you see others around you look like they're suffering the same as you are, chances are it's more likely to be the job which is giving you Burnout. Do not feel this is all your fault or that you're a whimp if you can not handle the tough environment.

There are many things you can do outside the job to help boost your immunity and hope better in this environment but there would also be value in looking for solutions in how to make your job fit you better, which in turn would be of value to the company in the long term.

You are skilled. You were hired because the company saw those skills. Now the conditions of the job need to be altered to support you because you are worth keeping.

How do we reduce or prevent Burnout in the workplace?

If at all possible put together a group of employees working in the same area as you who you can meet after working hours. You will have to ban gossip and complaints to keep the meeting constructive — tea and coffee rather than alcohol, plus a time limit for the duration will keep the focus better. The object of the meeting? Look at what parts of the job are letting you all down and what you would like to improve. If many areas are a problem then start with one, for improvement in one area will affect all areas.

List what would be good to change along with suggestions for how it could have improved. It's really important to consider what cost to the company there is by leaving things as they are and what the bosses could be saving (ie the bottom line) if they changed to your idea. Your boss may not be interested in simply making the office a more fun place for you to be, but a dollar value in savings (eg- in terms of sick pay, temp staff, loss of clients and recruitment costs) if they made the change is more likely to make them sit up.

We do not want you to look mutinous and have all your jobs in jeopardy. By adding information as to how the old and new ways affect management and the company's bottom line, you are showing your loyalty and interest in making it become a better company in the long run, which will hopefully make it more digestible to management.

You'll find that by working with others to improve the situation, you can build strong morale and team loyalty with it. That makes work a more pleasant place to be even if the changes are not immediate.

What about outside the job?

If there is stress in your personal life, there's no doubt it will affect your work. By improving as many areas as you can such as leisure time, de-cluttering, fitness and quality sleep; you'll become more resilient and able to handle times of stress.

Be gentle when you consider your partner and you'll notice I have not listed children at all. They are often reacting to you because of your own words and actions. By working to improve your own wellbeing, you'll often find relationships with your partner and children improve as a result without any extra effort.

By working on improving life inside and out of work you'll see an historic improvement in how you're feeling, your energy levels, work productivity and a decrease in stress. Then chances of Burnout can be averted or resolved.

Annabelle Drumm