As an employee and especially as an employer, it’s important to understand the causes of burnout. But before we go there, I suppose we should be on the same page about what burnout actually means…
Per wikipedia burnout is:
…a psychological term for a syndrome characterized by long-term exhaustion and diminished interest, especially in one’s career
If you’ve ever worked with someone that’s burnt out, you realize that burnout happens to the rising stars more often than the “average” employee. It is the person with passion, energy and dedication to the job that is most likely to suffer from this attitude. Why?
Here are a few reasons:
1. Frustration – an employee starts off full of energy and optimism and pour their personal energy into a project, job or position and yet the results aren’t what they hoped for – this can cause them to stop trying.
2. Crappy Boss – The employees with the highest potential are often the ones most susceptible to burnout from working under a crappy boss. Why? They have been told they are good, know they are good, and expect good things to happen. When it doesn’t, burnout can follow. Some of the things that a boss can do to cause burnout include – but are not limited to:
- taking credit for the employee’s work,
- chastising the employee publicly,
- treating an employee unfairly,
- minimizing an employee’s contributions.
3. Unappreciated – An employee can feel unappreciated if they work in an environment that doesn’t believe in positive reinforcement. Giving 110% every day is rewarding to these high achievers if recognized, but giving 110% with no return on that investment of energy will quickly lead to burnout.
4. Unrelenting Stress – No one can be “on” all the time. A person’s energy needs time to recharge or eventually their internal battery won’t take a charge anymore and you’ll have burn out. Back to back stressful projects or situations are sometimes unavoidable, but three times in a row with no end in sight? Only do it if you want to burn through employees and have a high turnover rate.
5. Overwhelmed – A high achiever often has a lot on their plate in multiple areas of their lives. Working moms are the ones I”m most familiar with, but it happens with men and with single people too. Our plates get piled too high at work, at home, with family, volunteer work, hobbies and eventually it all comes crashing down. It’s important for us to recognize our limits and realize that sacrificing sleep can only work for so long before our reserves are gone and burnout ensues.
Have you ever experienced burnout? How did you overcome it?
**Article first published (by me) as Going Down in Flames on Technorati.