Work burnout is an epidemic, particularly for high-achieving millennials. In a recent Gallup poll of 7,500 full-time workers, 23% reported feeling burned out “very often or always,” while 44% reported feeling burned out “sometimes.”
Many millennials began prepping for college in high school. We were taught that we had to be above average student in order to have a viable future. And all too many of us have brought that mindset into the workplace.
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. But when you’re going above and beyond all the time, it just isn’t sustainable. When you’re burning the candle at both ends, sooner or later, the candle will go out.
Some common signs of burnout include fatigue, chronic lateness, apathy, and getting really behind on your workload. You can read more about the signs of work burnout here.
When should I start preventing work burnout?
When you take on a promotion or a new role – It can be tough to adjust to the different expectations and skills required of you in a new role. Often when people are promoted to a managerial or supervisory role, their relationships with peers change, and they don’t have the same amount of support that they once did. Either of these scenarios increases your stress and the likelihood of burnout.
When your workload increases or changes – Often at the start of the fiscal year in July (or anytime, really), employers decide to increase productivity rates, or shift new responsibilities to staff. It’s also the nature of many jobs that there is a ‘busy season’ of a few months when staff are expected to work overtime. Even if you feel like you can handle workload changes with no problem, stress can sneak up on you. Work burnout prevention strategies can help.
When you’ve been in the same role for 3+ years without any changes – Don’t get too hung up on the number 3 – I chose it kind of arbitrarily. The point is, even if you love your job, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut. You may want to consider implementing these strategies before you realize you’re already in the throes of work burnout.
Now – No matter what your situation, now is the perfect time to start preventing work burnout. By using burnout prevention strategies, you may avoid or minimize a potentially serious problem.
3 Ways to Prevent Work Burnout
#1 – Take time off and sick days
Taking time off can bring up feelings of guilt for missing work, worry about decreased paychecks (if your company does not provide paid time off), and anticipation of the piles of work that will be waiting when you return. You may also fear judgement from your boss or team, depending on your workplace culture.
I’m going to encourage you to take time off anyway! Taking time off is so, so important for your work and life satisfaction. Why?
- Gives you time to de-stress
- Allows you to re-connect with friends and family
- Lets you re-connect with yourself and your spiritual health
- Decreases risk of illnesses spreading in the workplace
- Ensures that you are utilizing all of your work benefits
- Increases your focus and productivity when you do return to work
#2 – Say “no” more often
Because millennials were taught that we must go above and beyond to succeed, we’re often the first to volunteer for additional work, and the last to leave the office.
Sometimes this behavior is rewarded through raises, bonuses, and positive feedback from managers. However, over-performance can also result in increased expectations and responsibilities, for which we may not be fairly compensated. Plus, over-performance isn’t sustainable over time.
Re-assess your priorities at work on a consistent basis. What tasks are most important? What must come first? What can wait, be delegated, or dropped entirely? And most importantly, what can you say no to?
#3 – Seek opportunities to learn and grow
Our jobs can get dull, especially when they are repetitive, and there are few opportunities for growth or movement. What topic or aspect of your job would you love to learn more about?
Here’s how to get additional training or education:
- Let your supervisor know what you’d like to learn about, and ask for additional training in this area
- If your supervisor doesn’t already have resources or referrals for such a training, do your own research
- Present the training opportunities you’ve found to them
- Explain how gaining the knowledge from the training will benefit the company
- Ask for a stipend and / or paid day off to attend the training
- If they will not offer you these benefits, go to the training anyway
- When you come back from the training, find ways to share what you’ve learned with your supervisor and fellow staff (hopefully, this will help them understand the benefits of providing their employees with additional training)
- Rinse and repeat
I hope this helped! Got any other tips for preventing burnout? Let me know in the comments!
Rebecca Ogle is a licensed therapist who practices online counseling in Illinois. Rebecca empowers millennials to cope with anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and relationship problems using their strengths and inner wisdom.