There was a viral blog post last spring about burnout being a myth that got under our collective skin. Burnout is real, there’s no doubt about it, and its effects can mean more than not liking your job anymore. A lot more.
According to researchers at Harvard and Stanford’s business schools, job stress contributes to 120,000 deaths each year and costs American businesses upwards of $190 billion in health care expenditures. It’s a problem that can affect everyone in the workplace, from hourly shift workers to C-suite execs.
What is burnout, exactly? If you’ve felt it, you know. It’s exhaustion, frustration with your job, feeling pushed to the limit and reacting badly to normal requests, cynicism, feelings of futility, dreading going to work, and taking no satisfaction in any accomplishments — all of that and more, rolled into one. It’s caused by a variety of factors.
No work-life balance. It’s not just about long hours at work. It’s about missing school events, dinners with family and friends, and myriad other things that make life worth living. When it doesn’t let up, it can cause resentment toward the job, which snowballs into burnout very quickly.
No support. If you’ve got a bad manager who gives you no support during the tough times, that doubles the stress those tough times induce. Studies show that employees who feel strongly supported by their managers suffer less burnout than those with unsupportive managers.
Unreasonable workload. This often happens after layoffs, when survivors are forced to pick up the slack. If there’s no way to check all the items off your daily to-do list without working until 10 p.m. every night, you’ve got a problem that’s going to lead to burnout. Couple that with tight deadlines and time constraints and you have a recipe for disaster.
Unclear expectations. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing, what’s expected of you, or what targets you’re supposed to be aiming for, it’s impossible to succeed. It leads to frustration and even anger.
Lack of meaning or connection to your work. Even without any of the above factors, if you don’t feel a connection and meaning to what you’re doing for the better part of every day, you’re at risk of burnout.
No clear career path. Employees who feel like they’re “stuck in a dead-end job” lose motivation, engagement, and any positive feelings about work.
Burnout is real, but there’s help out there. A career development coach can help you find your way out of burnout and into job satisfaction.