Feeling the Heat of Job Burnout

August 18, 2011 by Lynn Faughey

burnoutSoon enough the heat of summer will be winding down, but you can’t help but notice the effects the prolonged burn-out has had.  Dry, brittle grass, wilted gardens and even trees already almost bare of leaves are just a few signs that this summer has been brutal.  Just as summer burn-out can cause issues for our lawns and gardens, job related burn-out can cause problems for our careers.

Almost everyone feels the stress of their job sometimes, but when sometimes becomes all the time; you could be at risk of job burn-out.  So what exactly is burn-out? Generally, when job stress causes physical and emotional exhaustion, prolonged periods of frustration and loss of motivation, you may have crossed over to the definition of burn-out.  In addition, many who experience stress at this level begin to question their own competence and even the value of their work.  Regardless if you are a cashier at the local market or CEO of a major corporation – everyone is susceptible to burning out and many different factors can be the cause.  Here are just a few things that can be contributors:

1. Job expectations that don’t match your abilities.  Being dissatisfied with a job because you’re bored and unchallenged can be just as bad as being expected to do a job you’re under qualified for.

2. A feeling that you have no input or control over the job you’re expected to do or lacking necessary resources to properly perform your job.

3. Unclear or contradicting direction on expectations of performance.

4. Difficult work environment.  Your job might be great, your co-workers might not.  Dealing with difficult people day in and day out can wear down even the strongest resolve.

5. A high pressure, constantly stressful or chaotic environment.

6. Constant worry about downsizing or lay-off.

In a perfect world we would all have careers that fit our interests and abilities.  Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t always adhere to our plans. Too many people these days are struggling to have a job at all, let alone one that’s a perfect fit.  So what do we do to avoid burning-out when everyday stress wears us down?  Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities.  Take this opportunity to make some changes to the things you can control to help offset the things you can’t. Can you discuss your concerns openly with your boss? Clarify your job expectations and weed out any areas that are taking time away from your productivity.  Many of us end up doing other people’s jobs because we’re trying to be helpful.  Well, if it’s not helping you, give it back!  We can be our own worst enemy taking on too much.  Learn how to say no. Prioritize and organize.

Recognizing you’ve reached the burn-out level is half the battle.  Now take the time to sort out what’s really at the root. Try keeping a journal of your work day.  Write down your frustrations and triumphs.  Did you work hard on a presentation someone else got the credit for?  Perhaps you have an awful commute that just sets the tone for the whole day.  Do you walk in the office door tense and annoyed and does the rest of your day just build from there? As you review your thoughts you may begin to see a pattern emerge – triggers to your dissatisfaction that you weren’t even aware of.

Ultimately, in the long run, you need to find a way to make your situation better. Whether it’s talking to a professional, a much needed vacation or a new career path, you owe it to yourself to find out what it takes to get your mojo back.

-Lynn Faughey, FlexPro COO

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