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In my blog post yesterday I talked about work-life balance which segues nicely into today’s post as I expand on the topic of burnout.

Who hasn’t had a boss that constantly micromanages staff to the point where the perception of control is effectively nil? What about a workplace bully that makes work so dreadful it forces everyone to engage in social isolation? These unhealthy workplace dynamics, along with many other factors, can result in burnout. As I mentioned yesterday, a work-life imbalance is one of those factors. Unclear expectations or a job that doesn’t match one's skills, knowledge or values can be a contributing factor too. Additionally, any type of job that is repetitive or extremely chaotic can play a part in burnout because both types of work take an elevated amount of energy in remaining focused.

Think of burnout as a particular kind of stress resulting from your job and/or workplace. It is characterized by exhaustion in a physical, mental or emotional way. Pair that exhaustion with feelings of incompetence or being undervalued and you have burnout.

Burnout impacts our work life and seeps into our personal life. You might notice a change in appetite or increase in sleep disturbances, development of unhealthy coping skills (overeating, drinking or drug use), chronic fatigue, a general reduction in productivity, and/or missed work because of headaches or backaches. Others complain of stomach issues, anxiety, depression, feeling unappreciated or experiencing bouts of anger. For some they start to complain about a job they once loved or feel pessimistic and hopeless about the future.

The onset of burnout is not like a switch. People don’t just “snap,” or burn out, rather it is more insidious. Gradually, over time, things start to build up and the weight of the job or workplace begins to feel overwhelming and exhausting. It is important to know that if you’re experiencing any symptoms of burnout you should make an appointment with your healthcare professional to determine whether there are any underlying medical issues present. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing anger to such a degree that thoughts of hurting oneself, a coworker or boss occur, immediate medical assistance should be sought.

This is one area where managers and business owners can play an integral and direct role in the health, safety and productivity of their employees. Particularly as it relates to workplace dynamics and the way in which staff are treated. If a staff member is showing signs of burnout, let it be a reminder to evaluate the workplace and an opportunity to offer said person some resources. If available, Employee Assistance Programs can be helpful. Acknowledgement and support seem to be the keys in providing support. Burnout is actually a thing and no amount of “sucking it up” will resolve the situation in the long run. The good news is that burnout can be prevented and it can be remedied. We can take steps to ensure our own well-being and the well-being of others, which I hope leaves you both excited and empowered.

Take a few minutes now to check-in with yourself about your job, workplace, coworkers and how they relate to your physical, emotional and mental health. If you're a manager or boss in the workplace, make a positive work environment your priority and see the health, happiness and productivity of your employees improve.

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