Going Down in Flames – 5 Reasons for Burnout

Going Down in Flames – 5 Reasons for Burnout

Image Courtesy of Funny Corner.net

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.

20 Responses to Going Down in Flames – 5 Reasons for Burnout

  1. OMG- this article really hit home. So true so true- thanks for sharing this. I can’t believe how true this is- WOW! Don’t forget– the irritating co-worker who drives everyone else insane?

    • ooh, right – you mean the one that doesn’t pull their weight and thinks they walk on water? That annoying employee? :) Maybe calls in sick 5 or 6 or 10 days a month? ;)

    • It’s amazing how much influence your direct supervisor has on your work experience. It can be a great company and a crappy environment if the wrong person is in charge.

  2. Great post, Daria. Identifying problem areas is often the first step in solving the problem or curing the situation. Your five reasons will likely resonate with a lot of people who pop buy here, and hopefully that will give them ideas on how to get back on track!

    • Thanks Margie! Sometimes it does help to just write down the reasons why and then you can recognize them and move on, or ignore it.

  3. I am experiencing a burnout process and it’s hard to deal with it. Having a deep knowledge of our own “me” is important to overcome the situation. Understanding when “me” needs to stop, to rest, to sleep or just to do nothing to recover energy. I was in an ascending curve of enthousiasm and full of energy to learn and to change my life into a different kind of professional life, when suddenly a sequence of serious, traumatic events broke that process and is impeaching me to recover as fast as I would like to. I know it’s time not to force too much myself ’cause I’ve always been too demanding to me. I also decided that time for family was essential in the course of the last months and that without accomplishing some family tasks I wouldn’t be in condition to give the best of myself at work. The process is to give ourself a time to rest while we do not let ourself down completely. Like making a break and taking a deep breath before starting to climb the mountain again.

    • There is absolutely a need to find a work/life balance that maintains and feeds you energy levels. If there is one thing I think working parents (moms especially) struggle with – it is finding what that balance means to them. For me, I’ve decided it’s so difficult because it is constantly shifting. There isn’t a formula that just works every week – it changes depending on the situation, so being flexible and learning how to let go of expectations of yourself to do it all and be it all is important.

      I also think it’s about finding your passions. There is only so long you can invigorate yourself to work enthusiastically at something that doesn’t “do it” for you. Passion and a sense of fulfillment at work is less common than one would think. It takes courage to turn your back on a career or a job to reach out for an unknown future that you hope will make you happier.

      Good luck lighting that fire again! I am currently loving those deep breaths! Not quite ready to climb the next mountain, but gaining strength and starting to decide which mountain sounds good.

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