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How to spot and overcome job burnout

MileIQ Team
tired office worker resting head on desk with laptop computer

Too many dismiss job burnout as an unfortunate side effect of doing business. But burnout doesn’t have to be the norm.

Read on to learn how to spot and overcome job burnout.

What is job burnout?

Job burnout is any work-related stress. The stress could be physical or emotional. It could stem from doing, being at, or thinking about work. Anyone from employees to employers can experience it.

You might be asking, “What’s the difference between everyday stress and job burnout?” Job burnout is often a result of intense, excessive or long-term everyday stress. Everyday on-the-job stress, then, is one cause, rather than a consequence, of job burnout. Other causes of job burnout include conditions like depression, says the Mayo Clinic.

Job burnout is also more severe and debilitating than everyday stress. Why? Burnout can slow your productivity and harm your sense of self.

How does job burnout affect businesses?

Job burnout is bad for business in more ways than one. It can cause:

  • Reduced on-the-job satisfaction. A diminished sense of self can lead to feelings of hopelessness. Job satisfaction can drop precipitously as a result.
  • Loss of productivity. Job burnout can cause self-doubt and a failure to self-motivate. This can bring productivity to a halt.
  • Poor decision-making. The mental fatigue that comes with exhaustion can reduce your judgment. Workers may make worse decisions as a result. Some of these decisions can have dire effects on a business.
  • Increase risk of job accidents. Physical fatigue can come with burnout. Accidents are more common when people work in this state.
  • Increased absenteeism. Burnout can come with health issues from headaches to insomnia. Burnout can force staff members to miss work when the symptoms are severe enough.
  • Accelerated turnover. Workers often leave a business if there is no solution to the burnout. Turnover forces you to rehire and retrain new workers on a regular basis.
  • Unnecessary spending. A study found that job burnout costs U.S. businesses $150 to $300 billion every year.

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How do I identify job burnout?

Below are some signs of job burnout:

  • Increased errors. Burnout may be to blame if you observe a spike in the error rate of a worker who rarely makes errors.
  • Reduced energy to work. A worker may no longer have the capacity to do the same work he did before.
  • Reduced productivity. Burnout may be at play if a worker is working the same hours but with lower output.
  • Increased irritability. Burnout might be the cause if a team player often gets defensive or combative.
  • Increased absenteeism. Has an employee with good attendance begun missing many work days? Burnout may be the culprit.
  • Noticeable health issues. Is a worker exhibiting or complaining about headaches or other physical maladies? Job burnout may be the cause.

How do I combat job burnout?

Have you spotted the signs of job burnout at your business? Here are some ways to combat job burnout:

  • Reduce decision-makers. An HBR study found that organizational over-complexity drains people of time and energy. Keep the number of decision-makers at your firm low.
  • Cancel pointless meetings. The same study found that too many calls and meetings causes tiresome multitasking. Instead, learn how to hold fewer, more productive meetings.
  • Set clear expectations. Employees should know what you expect from them. Employees will be less likely to feel overwhelmed and under-equipped for the task at hand.
  • Banish bullies. Put in place a culture of respect. Don’t tolerate toxic personalities in the job. They can destroy the self-image of workers over time.
  • Avoid over- or under-working employees. Too much work can drain your employees’ energy. Too little can affect their sense of worth. Strive for a balance. Challenge employees without pushing them over the cliff.
  • Communicate often. Most important: listen to your staff members. Believe them if they say they feel burned out. And take steps to solve these problems. Is your staff too large for you to listen to one-on-one? Put someone else on the team in charge of it. A support network is vital.

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