I see more clients with “Burnout” now than I have in the last few years. COVID-19 has exacerbated a 75% job burnout rate. Burnout isn’t generally acknowledged. It isn’t recognized under a medical category. A doctor would diagnose depression or chronic fatigue or acute stress disorder.
During Covid-19 the main stressors have been:
Concern over family’s health
Working for over 8 hours a day is seen as normal in today’s world. “This is what we do. We work long hours and we will achieve more”. The expectations continue. “I will get to the top of my profession if I am willing to put in the hours. They will promote me if I work more”. A client was told by their Boss that “They were disappointed in them” when they had said that they couldn’t work at the weekend after they had been working 16 hour days on a regular basis. To someone who was conscientious about their job and position this was devastating to them.
I ask Companies to look after their employees. If they are exhausted and suffering with burnout, they aren’t able to do the job you have employed them to do. Put in place measures to prevent excessive hours in the workplace. Encourage balance in your Employees lives and encourage them to let you know if they are struggling. People worry about losing their jobs in the current climate and feel obliged to work long hours. Mistakes are made when people are exhausted.
Burnout symptoms are depression, being emotionally vague, unable to care about anything. Having difficulty being present with loved ones. Deep exhaustion, anxiety, forgetfulness. Unable to sleep even though you go to bed exhausted. Aching all over with muscle tension as you hold your feelings and tension in your body.
Burnout happens to people who are hard working, honest, conscientious. Perfectionists who take pride in their work and usually have a drive to work hard and have high energy.
People in caring professions have the highest rate of burnout. It isn’t a sign of weakness or under performance to feel overwhelmed and acknowledge you are struggling.
Take a step back and evaluate how to prevent Burnout happening. How can you plan to have some balance in your life? This could entail having boundaries in your work life. Schedule your lunch time so you are able to have some time outside. Turn off emails after a certain time after work. A more flexible schedule to control work responsibilities. Talk to your Manager about your schedule. Allocate and book time for personal activities, & family time and keep to those commitments. If you make a commitment to an activity with the family you are more likely to keep to that promise if you have something specific to do. Human Beings are not machines and cannot keep going relentlessly.
Employers should strive to create a healthy company structure that values the individual as a person and prioritizes their mental health. Company leaders should be able to model and talk openly about ways to reduce stress in the workplace and when working remotely. It is too late when the employee becomes ill with burnout. They would probably need the time off work to recuperate and this could manifest itself in physical illness and mental health issues. Plan for a healthier future.