Nothing moves faster than technology.
During the global pandemic, the tech industry was one of few to witness an increase in demand. The lockdowns forced us to resort to online tools to perform daily life tasks. As a result, this overload challenged businesses already struggling to provide a healthy work environment.
While techies thrived and found innovative solutions to unprecedented challenges, the pressure increased on the people behind the innovation.
From entry-level employees to executive-level managers, surveys showed an increase in burnout reports compared to those of previous years.
"From entry-level employees to executive-level managers, surveys showed an increase in burnout reports compared to those of previous years."
In 2022, it is essential to protect yourself, as a techie, and your employees, as a tech-based company owner, against burnout and its health-threatening effects.
By now, you may be wondering:
What is even burnout? Let us answer that.
In this article, we’re discussing:
- What is burnout?
- How does burnout feel?
- What are the top causes of burnout?
- Who is more prone to experience burnout?
- How does burnout affect work performance?
- And finally: How to prevent burnout?
According to WHO, and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), burnout is defined as “a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been managed. It is characterized by: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy.”
"Burnout is used to describe a work-related phenomenon, rather than a general life experience."
As you have noticed, burnout is used to describe a work-related phenomenon, rather than a general life experience.
That was the official definition of burnout. But what does it feel like to experience it?
Can you recognize the early 7 signs of burnout?
According to Psychology Today, you can recognize the symptoms of career burnout if you look out for the following:
⇒Do you find yourself exhausted all the time? or feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically depleted? You might be suffering from burnout. While occasional fatigue can be traced back to physical causes, constant fatigue should be alarming.
⇒ Are you one of the people who find it hard to get out of bed in the morning, or find a reason to go to work? Do you turn off your alarm the second it rings because hearing it feels like torture? Does time seem to move backward in the office? The overwhelming sense of disillusionment about one’s job is worth exploring with a professional if it begins to weigh one down.
⇒ Another indicator of burnout is excessive escapism. Do you lose yourself in video games, sleep all day, eat a lot or not at all? or do you use other unhealthy coping mechanisms to pass the days? You probably need to consider what is it you are escaping from.
⇒ One of the more obvious telltale signs of burnout is high irritability. If you feel like you no longer have the patience for mundane tasks, or often explode unexpectedly over reasonable requests, burnout might be the culprit.
⇒ On the other end of the spectrum, for some people, burnout manifests itself as a prolonged absence of emotions altogether. They report feeling numb and experiencing what they call“a loss of passion” for their career.
⇒ Are you experiencing hypersensitivity and an increase in physical complaints? Are you getting increasing headaches and digestive problems that doctors can’t seem to fix? This, too, can be a sign of burnout.
⇒ Are you having an inability to concentrate? increased forgetfulness? sudden disconnect from your surroundings or tasks at hand? Most people who experience burnout have these experiences in common. While they can be less concerning of a symptom to onlookers, these changes you are noticing lately could be caused by burnout.
Now that you know what the symptoms are, it’s time to talk about causes & prevention:
Most people are fast to blame the work environment for their burnout; Yet, it’s important to be accountable for one’s own wellbeing.
When people disregard their basic needs like sleep, nutrition, socializing, exercise, and rest, they become defenseless in the face of stressors.
After you have the basics covered, you should investigate your work environment for potential burnout causes. Here’s what you need to look out for according to Mayo Clinic:
- Having zero control over one’s job responsibilities and schedule
- Vague job description and lack of clear expectations
- Bullying, underestimation, and constant micromanagement
- Lack of personal/ social life
- Continuous stress
All these factors can lead you to spiral down the path to burnout.
"Not everyone is equally susceptible to burnout."
You might be thinking: “every job is stressful in its own way, why isn’t everyone I know experiencing burnout?”
The truth is: not everyone is equally susceptible to burnout.
Research shows that overachievers, or what Forbes magazine calls “Chronic Achievers.”, are more likely to suffer from burnout in a given work environment.
Be careful not to confuse high achievers with overachievers, though.
While high achievers deliver great results due to hard work, skillfulness, and healthy levels of competitiveness; overachievers do so through being driven by their perfectionism, overthinking, and lack of boundaries. Eager to prove themselves, overachievers will gladly take on more responsibilities than they can handle, and manage to deliver, inviting their superiors to burden them with more tasks.
Does it sound familiar? How can it negatively affect business?
As a manager, having overachievers on your team seems fine at the beginning. However, as the true effects of burnout start to crawl to the surface, you’ll realize that burnout prevention can save your business.
Burnout prevention can protect your employees from developing physical problems. The most common ones are developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.
Burnout especially increases the risk of experiencing a constant lack of focus, creative block, and declining problem-solving and logical reasoning skills for staff in tech-based jobs.
Burnout can also lead to disconnection and miscommunication as a result of the constant irritability among team members.
That is why supporting your employees saves your business from inevitable and foreseeable financial losses.
If you’ve read so far, you’re in for a treat!
Here are the best practices to prevent burnout according to the experts:
"The first step is to acknowledge the problem and then seek help from your colleagues and superiors alike."
Denial never helped anyone. That is why we can't stress enough how important it is to recognize the problem yourself. Then, you can request support in your work environment. It might seem foreign, especially if you are an overachiever. But trust us, no boss wants to lose the people behind their success. In fact, you would be surprised how accommodating your manager might be when it comes to your mental and physical wellbeing.
Re-evaluate your job description and work environment. Feeling lost all the time can feed your insecurities and leave you in a constant state of distress. Having defined responsibilities, frequently revisited expectations, and clear boundaries can be detrimental to your career success and the prevention of burnout. Know how you can best support your organization and allow them to support you back.
After taking care of the external factors, it’s time to hold yourself accountable as we mentioned earlier.
Taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing is your responsibility.
Eat well, exercise, and take breaks. Practice mindfulness and reconnect with your social circles.
Be your own first line of defense against the crushing weight of technology’s exponential growth.
For those who spend a lot of time seated, like developers, it is very important to increase your physical activity. Try moving around every hour. Experiment with different types of workspaces like standing desks. Include walking time in your daily routine.
Prioritize your tasks and invest in improving your time management skills. Practicing mindfulness has also proven to be beneficial in keeping track of what truly matters in the present moment.
If you are a business owner, consider hiring qualified caliber in the project management department. Skilled project managers protect your team members from unrealistic deadlines and crushing workloads that eventually result in burnout.
Burnout can threaten the success of any career. However, fighting the battle against burnout should not be a solo quest. If the situation is more serious than what you can handle on your own, seek the help of a healthcare professional.
As the world is paying increasing attention to mental health, be part of the change. As a business owner, be part of the radical movement to invest more in human resources.
What was the most surprising piece of information about burnout in this blog post? Tell us in the comments below.
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