The biggest misunderstanding about job burnout is that it is caused by working too many hours. This myth is harmful in two ways:
♦ People who work “normal” hours but are tracking toward burnout may not receive appropriate support if the number of hours worked is the measuring stick for worker health.
♦ It casts a stigma on those who enjoy their careers and make the decision to invest more heavily.
The real culprit behind job burnout is frustration. Read the story of Anne and Leslie:
It was 5:30 on a sunny Friday afternoon. Anne was sitting at her desk feeling let down and trampled. Her colleague, Leslie, had casually announced on her way out that a key client was counting on a delivery Monday morning and none of the arrangements had been made. That was an hour ago and Anne had not yet figured out how to meet the client’s expectation.
Anne didn’t know what to do. A lengthy conversation revealed deep frustration over not being supported by her colleague. This was a bigger problem than we could tackle in the moment so we came up with a quick plan for the immediate client need and made arrangements for the three of us to meet early the next week to solve the bigger problem.
In this scenario, an employee is experiencing frustration and the kind of stress that is physically and emotionally limiting. Left unchecked, motivation is stifled, productivity goes down, worker satisfaction heads south, and the potential for physical symptoms becomes a real possibility. Not everyone will experience burnout. If you’re worried about your own situation, take this test. Further down on the same page are some coping steps and frustration reduction exercises.
Another good resource is the stress reduction tips on this page. The author presents a very thorough approach to recognizing and effectively dealing with stress. Makes sense. Stress is not going away. The better we are at measuring its presence, the more proactively we can manage it.