Nowadays, we often talk or hear about burnout. According to an APA published survey on the topic in 2021, more than fifty-nine percent of the respondents have said that during the COVID crisis and lockdowns, they have experienced burnout. At the same survey, the percentage of people experiencing burnout while working from home has risen to sixty-seven, split into a separated group. While staying at home, many people start thinking that their work is not so visible as if they were in the office. And that causes them to take on more responsibilities, projects, and tasks, which ruins their work-life balance and social interactions. Thirty-nine percent of the people outside the office have also shared that they have regularly worked during the weekends and late nights to deliver the promised results. And twenty-four percent of them have declared that the new reality has caused severe issues in their families or relationships.
These scary numbers come on the top of the home office to stay as a permanent necessity for many people worldwide in the future.
Fifty-two percent of people want to work from home or any other place than the office, but many of them declare that this working style is causing them severe issues in personal and social life.
Even the largest in the world companies are struggling to deal with burnout. As a result, they are starting to lose people from their teams who decide to work on a smaller basis or for themselves to save relationships, families, and their mental health.
Social, organizational, and clinical psychologists have turned to create different programs. Many healthy life consultants have started offering a variety of well-being programs for employees and their families. And while this is a good business niche, it also creates many thoughts about burnout. Because of its existence, it proves that burnout is still a huge problem to be solved and that there is no universal decision on the table for it.
In my working experience, I have felt the effect of burnout twice. The first time I didn’t even know what it was. It came to me as a massive stroke, anxiety, and depression. Caused by the three jobs I have worked at the same time to cover expenses, it hit me so hard that I did not know how to react. So then, the obvious decision was to quit my three jobs and stay at a safe place for a while.
The second time when I met with burnout was while working at a multinational company in the FMCG industry. There as an HR Business Partner, I have had internal clients in different locations. Trying to be in service of every one of them, I have stayed early to travel and came back home late at night to sleep and change my clothes. I have worked long hours during the weekends and have sent e-mails at weekends or nights to ensure that everyone will read them first thing in the morning (or at least I hoped they would do it). Two years on that rhythm, I felt exhausted, not carrying about anything and anyone, and became somehow arrogant. Fortunately, a colleague of mine, working at the company sales department, came to help overcome this moment. From this colleague, I have learned three techniques for dealing with burnout:
Burnout rises while we try to finish all the work we can as fast as we can. Some people did not learn the lesson that you can’t do anything simultaneously even if you wish. No matter what you finish, the next thing pops up, and then the next thing, and so on. To successfully manage the tasks and projects that overwhelm you, you need to do some intelligent prioritization. While prioritizing, start from the end of the line. Do not start with prioritizing what is urgent, but with what can wait in time. After cutting all the tasks that can wait, you will see the accurate list of priorities for your short-term agenda and will be able to organize them much faster and efficiently. That does not mean forgetting about the list of delayed tasks. It is more like put those tasks on hold and define what will be the latest deadline for each job that is acceptable. That can win you much time to focus on the real priorities for the day or the week.
Another strategy that can save us from burnout is to handle the tasks we can do to someone else. There is always someone ready to help. Many leaders are careful when delegating and prefer to finish the jobs because they have had bad experiences delegating to the wrong person. To trust successfully means knowing the other person and fully understanding what result he can deliver on the task you are planning to assign to them. If not sure about the output you can get from that person, invest some time to understand how he works, thinks, and acts toward his list of tasks. If you like the reaction style, then go ahead and asks for delegating part of your tasks; if not, move forward with another person. Trusting the right person does not take responsibility for the task from you. Still, it can be a winning approach to put some new powers into finishing that task and not worry about expertise, energy, and willingness to deliver positive results.
Yea, you have read this one right. See yourself overwhelmed with work, and a colleague comes to ask about something that you might need to complete in addition to everything else. There is nothing wrong with denying doing that other thing, but there are rules to do it so that you do not harm the relationship with that person and eventually with other people in your team or the company. Denying to do something can look rude if you say NO at the moment of the request. You will need to invest some time in understanding why the person needs you to fulfill his request, how the result will affect your, his or other people’s outcomes in work, or whether the not completion will cause some pressure. If the answers to these points are negative, you can deny taking on the task. Just formulate your position why you refuse to fulfill the request. With enough evidence, you can easily convince the other person that the task or the request can be forgotten without harming the relationship between both of you and closing the door for future interactions.
There are many ways that burnout pops up in our lives. Work is one of the most apparent sources of pressure, energy-draining, and burnout. Unfortunately, there is not a panacea of how we can deal with burnout in every situation. But while implementing different techniques to lower the pressure and demand, we can manage the stress and decrease the probability of entering a negative non-productive cycle in our life and successfully fighting against burnout.