Burnout from work is one of the biggest causes of burnout we see here at The ABC, especially over the last couple of years. For many people, workloads have increased; for others, it’s the struggle of working from home or trying to create a balance. Whatever the cause may be, job burnout is definitely on the rise and we’re on a mission to help change that.
In this guide, we’ll go through some of the causes of work burnout, how to spot it, how to prevent it from happening, and what to do if you’re already burning out. This guide is suitable for everyone, from employees to employers.
What Causes Job Burnout
There are many reasons why we may experience work burnout and different stressors can impact people in different ways. What may seem like a high-stress situation for one person may seem like a walk in the park for others, so it’s important not to compare! However, there are some common causes of burnout at work that we see time and time again. These are:
- A high or higher than normal workload
- Unreasonable or unrealistic targets
- Lack of reward or appreciation for the work being done
- Unclear job expectations and/or lack of clarity
- Lack of social support at work
- Workplace bullying
- Unfair treatment in the workplace
- Inability to leave work at work
We have also seen a huge increase in work from home burnout as more people started remote working over the last few years. Those still working from home may find it difficult to be able to separate work and home life, leading to more stress and a lack of balance.
Finally, those in caring roles may also be a burnout risk due to the increase in workload over the last few years. Alongside burnout, we have seen more cases of compassion fatigue (sometimes known as vicarious trauma or secondary traumatic stress). This generally goes hand-in-hand with burnout too.
Work Burnout Symptoms
So, what are the signs of burnout at work? What should you be looking out for? As burnout can really impact your mental health, it’s imperative you keep an eye out for the warning signs – especially if you are experiencing any of the causes above.
Dropping the Ball/Making Silly Mistakes
If you’re making more mistakes than usual at work, then you may be experiencing job burnout. High levels of chronic stress can make it harder for us to concentrate, lead to poor decision-making, and can impact your attention span. If you find yourself making mistakes you wouldn’t normally make, then this could be a sign of work burnout.
Feeling Overwhelmed and Exhausted
If you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed and physically and/or emotionally drained, then this is a big warning sign that you may be burning out. How do you feel at the end of a working day? If you’re overwhelmed with how much there is to do and feel exhausted just thinking about it, you may be experiencing burnout from work.
Lack of Motivation and/or Feeling Detached
Another telltale sign that you could be experiencing job burnout is a real lack of motivation – both at work and when you get home too. Those who are burning out may start to feel detached from everything and only have the energy for mind-numbing tasks such as scrolling Instagram or binge-watching Netflix.
Withdrawing and Isolation
When we feel extremely stressed for long periods of time, we can often start withdrawing and isolating ourselves from others. Perhaps you’re worried about burdening others with your stresses or you simply don’t have time to socialise. If you find yourself hiding away then this could be due to burnout from work.
Depression and Anxiety
Burnout can lead to other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and in fact, some of the symptoms are similar too. If you are worried about your mental health, then it may be worth considering whether burnout is the root of the issue.
There are also several physical burnout symptoms to watch out for including digestive issues, physical fatigue, high blood pressure, headaches or other aches and pains, and catching more colds than usual. Read more here: 5 Burnout Physical Symptoms to Watch Out For
These are just some of the main symptoms you may notice, although there are many more. If you’re still unsure, you can also take our free burnout symptoms test to see whether you are on the road to burning out.
How to Prevent Burnout from Work for Employees
If you’re worried about burnout from work as an employee then there are some things you can do to help prevent it from creeping in. If you manage people, then we also have some ideas for employers below.
Discuss Any Workplace Causes
If you went through the list of job burnout causes and recognised a lot of these issues in your own workplace, then you need to arrange a discussion with your manager, HR or occupational health team. Make a note of your key concerns and work together to create a Wellness Action Plan that can help reduce the risk of burnout at work.
Learn to Say No
If you’re struggling with an increase in workload and find yourself saying yes to everything, then it’s time to learn how to say no! Many of us can fall into this trap as people-pleasers, which increases the risk of burnout. Practice saying no to smaller tasks and to-dos before working your way up to bigger projects that you really don’t have time for.
Leave Work at Work
If you’re the kind of person who answers emails and calls after work has ended, then you’re not alone! The rise in people feeling as though they always have to be available has increased the risk of work from home burnout even for those who are back in the office. If possible, turn off all work notifications at the end of your working day.
Schedule in Downtime
One of the best ways to try and prevent burnout is actually scheduling in time to look after your wellbeing. Many of those experiencing work burnout generally put their own needs at the bottom of the to-do pile and have very little time for self-care. This podcast episode, Finding the Time for Wellbeing in Your Routine, will help you schedule in downtime even if you’re working long days.
How to Prevent Burnout at Work for Employers
If you are a manager or responsible for the wellbeing of your team somehow, then here are some tips to help you prevent burnout at work for your employees.
Put Together Wellness Action Plans
A Wellness Action Plan is something your employees put together to help them better manage workplace stress and wellbeing. We have created a step-by-step guide and template which is included in our free workplace wellbeing pack. This pack also includes printable questionnaires and exercises, plus many other tips you can use to help support your team.
Ask, Listen and Act
It’s imperative that you provide an open and honest workplace culture where your team feel as though they can talk to someone if they’re worried about burnout. Use questionnaires, wellbeing groups and company-wide conversations to give people an opportunity to discuss their concerns. Don’t just listen, however, make sure you put steps into place if you notice any issues that could lead to burnout.
Educate Your Team
One of the first steps to preventing burnout is actually being aware of what to look for in the first place! You can use guides like this one to educate employees on some of the warning signs to be aware of or arrange for talks and workshops to dig into topics around stress, burnout, resilience and mental health.
Do As I Do!
Finally, there isn’t much point in trying to create an anti-burnout workplace culture if not everyone is on board. This means that management should be setting an example that your team wants to follow. If you’re taking on too much work and are clearly burning out, then your employees will think they have to follow in your footsteps to prove themselves worthy.
What to Do if You’re Already Experiencing Job Burnout
If you are passed the point of just trying to prevent burnout and are worried you may be experiencing it already, then it’s vital you speak to a medical professional in the first instance. It may be that you need to take time off work to fully recover and so management, HR or occupational health will need to be aware too. We recommend finding your local NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) or speaking to your GP as the first steps.
Burnout is easier to prevent than to cure, but that doesn’t mean you should give up hope if you’re already burning out. Taking some time away from the causes and stressors will help you build an anti-burnout routine so that you feel more in control when you go back to work.
We hope this guide to burnout from work has been helpful and given you some useful tips on how to both spot and solve it. As always, please do seek support from a medical professional if you are worried about any signs that your mental health is being impacted by stress.