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How To Address Burnout At Work

by Chris Boutté
Read Time: 8 minutes
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Burnout has become more common in recent years, and the pandemic has only made the problem worse for many people. Originally, burnout was starting to become something that many millennials were talking about. One book that really brought this problem to the forefront was Can’t Even by former BuzzFeed journalist Anne Helen Petersen. Once the pandemic hit, and more of us started to work from home, we now know that it’s not just a millennial issue.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we know a lot of small business owners and digital marketers either are experiencing burnout or have experienced it before. Today, we’re going to discuss why burnout happens, but more importantly, what employees, as well as employers, can do to manage it. Whether you’re doing social media marketing or managing content, you’re not immune from burnout, so let's discuss some solutions.

What is Burnout?

One challenge we face when speaking about mental health topics is that the meanings are sometimes lost or diluted. Many discuss burnout, but it’s important to know what it is and what it isn’t. We all get exhausted or are tired of working, and sometimes we just have a bad day at work. Many of these feelings, both physically and psychologically, are completely normal, but when does it come to the point that we are burnt out?

The American Psychological Association defines burnout as follows:

“Physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes toward oneself and others. It results from performing at a high level until stress and tension, especially from extreme and prolonged physical or mental exertion or an overburdening workload, take their toll.”

Think about the difference between burnout and just being tired of work like the difference between being sad and experiencing depression. Sadness is a passing feeling that’s part of the human experience, while depression is much more severe and typically needs better methods in order to recover.

How Common is Burnout?

You may believe that a day filled with doing different types of email marketing or other forms of digital marketing makes you immune to burnout, but this isn’t the case. Burnout is far more common than you may think, and the type of work we do is relative. Just because you’re not out there doing physical labor like construction and building skyscrapers doesn’t mean you can’t experience burnout. A prime example of this is the number of people experiencing burnout while working from home.

According to surveys conducted by Flex Jobs, roughly 75% of employees have experienced burnout. Of that 75%, 40% of them said that burnout happened during the pandemic. One study from Indeed found that 53% of millennials were burnt out before the pandemic, and more baby boomers began experiencing burnout during the pandemic as well.

What Causes Burnout?

Now that you know how many people struggle with burnout, we should probably discuss what causes it. When you understand the causes of burnout, you can prevent it in the future as well as recognize if you may be experiencing burnout. 

One of the primary causes of burnout comes from an unmanageable workload. The cause of this can be different for different people. Typically, this happens when a person is given additional responsibilities at work or just more tasks than one person can handle. In some cases, the person takes on more than they should, which leads to being overloaded as well. This is common for people-pleasers who say, “Yes,” to everything and have difficulties setting boundaries (we’ll touch on that soon). 

Another cause of burnout is a perceived lack of control. In his best-selling book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, Johann Hari has an entire chapter on work. He explains one study where they found people who lacked control at work or perceived a lack of control were much more likely to experience depression. The good news is that since this is based on perception, we can make intrinsic adjustments, but sometimes, you may need to change things up for work.

Some other common causes include a lack of a support system, not feeling appreciated, and working somewhere that doesn’t align with one’s values. All of these things can lead to burnout, but there are some things you can do to find solutions and actually enjoy going to work.

How to Address Burnout at Work

Burnout at work can happen to anyone. When we think of burnout, we often think about employees who are overworked, but burnout can affect employers too. Whether you’re an employee, a manager, or a business owner, it’s helpful to know how to address burnout. Understanding how burnout can affect everyone in the workplace can make the environment much better. As everyone works on their mental health, you’re able to find solutions together and communicate in a more effective way.

Talking to Your Boss About Burnout

The idea of talking to your boss about burnout may make your anxiety shoot through the roof, but it’s necessary if you hope to improve your mental health. If you’re being overworked or are overworking yourself, it’s important to talk to your boss about it. One of the best things you can do to help get over this worry is to remember that when you’re at peak performance your boss benefits as well. Do you think they’d rather have you burnt out or be productive and happy at work?

The first thing to do is to diagnose the problem. As mentioned, you may be overworked due to the number of assignments that you have to complete. Working in digital marketing, you may be in charge of your company’s CRM, while also handling content marketing and other tasks. But, you also need to take an honest look and see if you’re taking on too many assignments as well. Something you can do is ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you have enough time to finish all of your tasks during your workday?
  • Is it possible to complete these tasks while also allowing yourself the regularly scheduled breaks?
  • If you have to work longer hours, what is the cause?

Asking these questions will help you see if you’re being overworked or if something else is going on. Sometimes, people realize that the workload is fine, but they need to work on their personal time management skills to ensure they complete everything. If you feel like you’re being given too much to do, it’s time to have a talk with your boss.

When talking with your boss, remember that you’re both on the same team. You can let them know that you want to be as effective as possible, but you’re feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. Rather than telling your boss what they should do, present the situation as a question so you can work together to find the answer. Your boss may not even realize that you’re being overworked, so they might be more than happy to move some things around to lighten your workload.

Addressing Burnout as the Boss

If you’re a boss or a business owner, there’s no doubt that you’re a hard worker. Although you have passion and motivation to work hard, you also need to know when to dial it back just a little bit. This is extremely difficult for people in charge because employees and others look up to them, and it’s common to want to appear like a good role model. But remember, it’s also important to be a role model by showing others that taking care of your mental health is important.

The primary reason bosses and business owners struggle with burnout is that they don’t know how to ask for help. For some, asking for help may seem like a weakness. For others, trust is a major issue that makes it difficult to delegate tasks to other people. Either way, it leads to burnout and can affect your ability to run your business and do your job.

Your employees aren’t the only ones relying on you, either. Many managers and business owners have families as well. Working long hours and overworking yourself makes you less able to be there for the other people in your life. So, in some cases, having the humility to ask for help can be the best thing to help you avoid burnout.

If you don’t trust others to do different tasks at work, it’s time to work on that. An easy way to do this is to start small. Take little tasks that are low risk, and assign them to employees. If you’re a small company that doesn’t have many employees, you can look into hiring freelancers or a digital assistant. When you do this, you know that any problem that arises is easily fixable since it was low risk. And as you do this longer, you’ll feel more comfortable offloading work and having more time for yourself and your loved ones.

Make Life Easier with All-in-One Tools

One great way you can prevent burnout is to use tools that make everything easier. DirectLync provides digital marketing tools that allow you to promote your business with ease. Whether you’re trying to monitor multiple platforms on social media, schedule blog posts, or plan out your newsletter, DirectLync can help. You can learn more by contacting us today, or you can simply sign up for your free trial.