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Supporting Mental Wellness on the Job: Working Together as a Team to Prevent and Recover from Burnout

May 6, 2024

By: Jennifer Lucas

May is Mental Health Awareness month, which makes it a good time to discuss an issue that can arise in any job or industry: Burnout.

The modern professional landscape is a demanding one. We juggle constant connectivity, ever-increasing workloads, and the pressure to excel in a competitive environment. It's no surprise, then, that professional burnout has become a major concern. Burnout isn't just feeling tired after a long day; it's a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged or excessive stress. It can manifest as cynicism towards work, a sense of reduced accomplishment, and emotional detachment.

Understanding its signs and causes both as an individual and as an employer can help navigate burnout and even prevent it.

Recognizing the Signs

Burnout doesn't develop overnight. It's a gradual process that often creeps up on us. Here are some key signs to watch out for:

  • Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling constantly drained and emotionally spent, with little to no energy for the things you used to enjoy.
  • Cynicism and Detachment: Losing enthusiasm for your work, feeling cynical about your job or colleagues, and a general sense of detachment from your work responsibilities.
  • Reduced Sense of Accomplishment: Despite putting in the effort, feeling like you're not achieving anything, questioning your competence, and a decline in productivity.
  • Physical Symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, and increased susceptibility to illness are all common physical manifestations of burnout.
  • Changes in Work Habits: Procrastinating on tasks, difficulty concentrating, increased absenteeism, and making careless mistakes are telltale signs of burnout affecting your work performance.

Causes of Burnout

There's no single culprit behind burnout. It's often a combination of factors, including:

  • Work Overload: Feeling constantly overwhelmed by your workload, tight deadlines, and a lack of control over your tasks can lead to burnout.
  • Lack of Work-Life Balance: When work bleeds into personal life, leaving no time for relaxation and rejuvenation, it creates a recipe for burnout.
  • Lack of Recognition: Not receiving appreciation or the right kind of appreciation for your work. Constantly feeling undervalued for your contributions can lead to feelings of demotivation and ultimately, burnout.
  • Toxic Work Environment: Unhealthy workplace dynamics, such as bullying, micromanagement, or a lack of support from colleagues and supervisors, can significantly contribute to burnout.
  • Personality Traits that don’t align with a job’s responsibilities. Examples: having at-risk pay when you are motivated by security; being required to compete or deal with conflict when you are inspired by a collaborative, harmonious work environment; or being highly ambitious in a role that has limited-to-no growth potential.

Preventing Burnout: Strategies for Individuals and Employers

The good news is that burnout is preventable. Here's what you, as an individual, and your employer can do to create a healthier, more sustainable work environment:

For Individuals:

  • Set Boundaries: Learn to say no and delegate tasks when needed. Disconnect from work emails and calls outside of working hours. Protect your personal time for rest and activities you enjoy.
  • Practice Self-Care: Prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This can include exercise, spending time in nature, meditation, mindfulness practices, or hobbies.
  • Seek Support: Don't hesitate to talk to a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or counselor if you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
  • Self-reflect: Be honest with yourself about your professional needs and preferences, and openly communicate with your manager to try to find alignment.

For Employers:

  • Promote Work-Life Balance: Offer flexible work arrangements, encourage employees to take breaks and vacations, and discourage working late into the evenings.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Clearly define workloads and set achievable deadlines. Overburdening employees is a recipe for disaster.
  • Cultivate a Supportive Environment: Foster a culture of open communication, recognition, and appreciation. Invest in employee well-being programs and encourage teamwork.
  • Promote Healthy Habits: Offer on-site yoga classes, healthy food options in the cafeteria, or stress management workshops.
  • Encourage professional development that works with each employee’s personality traits. Positions and opportunities evolve over time, and it’s a good idea to check in periodically with employees to ensure there continues to be good compatibility between positions and your valued team members’ personalities.

Recovering from Burnout: Finding Your Way Back from the Edge

If you're already experiencing burnout, don't despair. There's a path back to feeling energized and engaged at work:

  • Prioritize Rest and Recuperation: Take a leave of absence if needed/possible. Get adequate sleep, eat healthy meals, and exercise regularly.
  • Seek Professional Help: A therapist can help you develop coping mechanisms, deal with stress, and create a plan for returning to work in a healthy way.
  • Re-evaluate Your Work Situation: Consider whether your current job is a good fit. If not, can you adjust your workload or responsibilities? If necessary, exploring new opportunities might be the best course of action.

Building Resilience and a Culture of Well-being

Burnout is a serious issue, but it's not inevitable. By recognizing the signs, understanding the causes, and implementing preventative measures, both individuals and employers can create a work environment that fosters well-being and prevents burnout.

For individuals, embracing self-care, setting boundaries, and seeking support are crucial. Employers, on the other hand, can cultivate a culture of work-life balance, offer resources for stress management, and prioritize employee well-being.

Consider a behavioral assessment, like the Omnia Professional Development report or the Omnia Custom Profile, to help tailor motivational and stress mitigation strategies to the individual. One benefit of using Omnia’s assessment is our unique EPI (Energy, Perspective, and Intensity) ratings. These ratings can help identify the possible presence of stress and provide advice for working around it or even helping resolve it.

If you want to explore these options, reach out to us today!

By working together, we can create a work landscape where achievement and well-being go hand-in-hand. Remember, a healthy, resilient workforce is the foundation for a successful and sustainable organization.

Jennifer Lucas

Jennifer originally joined The Omnia Group in 2005 as an analyst. After a brief stint away to work in project management and to start a family, her fascination with behavioral assessments pulled her back. She returned in 2011 as a member of the in-house analyst/project team. She writes and edits Custom Profiles, Targets, special projects, and articles. She enjoys being able to provide guidance to build effective, productive teams and help find strong matches for both clients and candidates.

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