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April 16, 2024
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Tips for Business Owners to Overcome Workplace Burnout

A recent survey by FlexJobs and Mental Health America found that 75% of people experienced burnout at work, with 40% saying they felt it specifically during the pandemic. And according to a July MetLife report on the American workforce’s mental health, two in three employers said they expected a mental health crisis in the United States within three years.

We are working three extra hours a day during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, more people feel anxious, overwhelmed, and exhausted.

But we are not only tired of working from home. We are tired of everything. The boundaries between our personal and professional life have been removed. No one knows how long this pandemic will last, and people with additional responsibilities, such as parents and those living in at-risk households – continue to deal with a tremendous amount of stress. We all risk running out of steam, but it’s not inevitable.

Look for these signs of workplace burnout – and be sure to proactively manage your time and energy to get the best out of yourself for your family, your clients, and your colleagues.

What is burnout – and do you have it?

The World Health Organization lists burnout in its international classification of diseases as an “occupational phenomenon.” WHO provides three criteria for diagnosing burnout:

  • Feelings of exhaustion or depletion of energy;
  • Greater mental distance from one’sone’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your work; is
  • Reduced professional effectiveness.

One of the hardest things about burnout is that it can be hard to tell when you have it. Especially at this point, it is easy to get caught in a cycle of negativity and anxiety, especially at this time. And once we get used to feeling that way, it can feel normal. It certainly does for me.

So think carefully about how you feel. Are you irritable? Are you afraid of starting the working day? Ask yourself these questions, as well as many of the others recommended by the Mayo Clinic.

The steps I took to overcome burnout

Last March, I had my mental health issues. I worked day and night trying to reinvent our company. I was blown away. I was hardly sleeping, and I felt a deep sense of anxiety and hopelessness at the start of the pandemic.

So I re-oriented my work routine to focus on preventing burnout. Here are some of the things that have helped me stay sane and restore some balance to my life:

  • Designate a homework location. My laptop stays in my home office. If I have to work, I work in the office. Although I don’t have a commute, having a physically separate space allows me to maintain a personal and professional line.
  • Take frequent breaks. Work in blocks of 50 minutes. Then I take 10-minute intervals. I use this time to walk around, stretch out, make coffee, and give my mind a little white space. It is proven to increase your creativity and mood and also helps you physically.
  • Find safe opportunities for human in-person interaction. Although we usually work remotely, the team occasionally meets at our office or for lunch – in compliance with strict security protocols. These moments help strengthen our sense of connection and teamwork, and we also find it easier to move forward on our projects when we work face-to-face.
  • Taking care of yourself and loving yourself go a long way. Not every day is going to be good. You are going to have more bad days than ever before. But be gentle with yourself. It’sIt’s something we all need to do – so that we can continue to survive. Remember that love always wins.
  • Exercise. I have always prioritized physical activity, but my health and well-being have taken on a new level of importance for me during this pandemic. There is simply no better remedy for stress management and a healthy immune system than a good workout!

We are all in the same boat.

If you need help, contact a friend, coach, or therapist. It has helped me immensely, and I know it has helped others, as well.

But tackling burnout isn’t just an individual responsibility. It is also a question of leadership. As leaders, it is our responsibility to act empathetically. The Harvard Business Review breaks empathy as follows: “That requires you to step outside of your own needs, assessing and removing bias and privilege, actively listening to your people, and then taking action.” Take the time to examine your employees’ workload. If you can offer a safe hybrid countertop, do it. But as Jennifer and the executives she interviews point out, listen to your employees – and meet them where they are, just like you would with your clients.

Besides, make sure to encourage your employees to take breaks. Many may feel guilty about doing so; at this time, the work can sometimes be much more difficult. But we need this mental break. Stephen Tang, CEO of Orasure Technologies, leads his team in creating new COVID-19 tests. While his team is helping us in a global pandemic, he emphasized the importance of taking breaks to his team. 

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