With the current economy's move towards efficiency, many employees are facing greater demands for their time. Perhaps through downsizing in the organization or cutbacks in operating funds, many organizations are running leaner and employees are often feeling the pressure. When employees feel intense pressure in the workplace, this can lead to stress, anxiety and even burnout. Burnout comes when an individual faces prolonged exposure to stressors, leading to a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion. Many people don't even realize that they're experiencing burnout until they suffer health issues as a result. Use these signs and symptoms to help determine if you're experiencing job burnout. (For additional reading, check out 6 Career-Killing Facebook Mistakes.)
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1. Procrastination or Loss of Motivation
Do you remember the days when you were eager to get to the office and felt the satisfaction of meeting a major deadline? An important aspect of success in the workplace is feeling an internal desire to perform, and finding satisfaction in the work that you do. If you no longer feel the motivation to strive for perfection, find yourself procrastinating or simply putting in the minimal amount of work to meet deadlines, you might want to examine what's brought on the change in your motivation.
2. Absenteeism and Lateness
Calling in sick often? Constantly showing up late or leaving early? Employees who are often absent could potentially be experiencing burnout. If any excuse not to attend seems good enough, or if you're desperate to leave as soon as possible, it may be a good idea to investigate the reasons you're feeling this way. It is also a possibility that if you are ill more often that this could be related to burnout. People who are unhappy or stressed often have a weakened immune system.
3. Every Day Seems Like a Bad Day
Do you find yourself responding negatively every time someone asks you how your day was? If your negative feelings tend to revolve around your workplace and you're unable to think of anything positive that happened during your workday, this is definitely a symptom of job burnout. Taking some time to find the positives in each day may help to make your job seem more tolerable.
4. Isolating Yourself from Others
No longer taking lunch or coffee breaks with your coworkers? Trying to dodge out of the office without having to say goodnight? If the days of being the life of the office party are gone, perhaps you should step back examine the reasons. Isolating yourself from others can be a symptom of a much larger issue, such as anxiety, burnout or depression. If this behavior seems isolated to the workplace, this could definitely indicate job burnout; however, any time you notice yourself withdrawing from others, you should question what's brought on the change. (A perfect resume is often ruined with a poorly thought out and mistake-heavy cover letter. See 7 Cover Letter Blunders.)
Feeling like things will never improve, or finding yourself questioning what you're even doing at work? Feelings of negativity, bitterness or resentment towards your job, or feeling like the work you do will never be good enough indicates job burnout. Take a moment to ask yourself if what you're feeling is rational. Are things really as bad as you perceive them to be?
Do you find yourself becoming angry or frustrated with almost everything your coworkers or clients say or do? If you have outbursts of anger over small issues in the workplace, job burnout could be the culprit behind this behavior. If your coworkers are walking on eggshells any time you're around, then you probably need to step back and reevaluate. Remember that your coworkers are just trying to do their jobs as well. Reminding you of a deadline, asking you to attend a meeting, or inviting you to chip in on the office lottery pool isn't an invitation to vent your frustrations.
At its very worst, depression can be the outcome of experiencing prolonged burnout. Depression can manifest itself in many ways. Changes in sleep pattern, increase or decrease in appetite, emotional outbursts, refusal to participate in social activities, and isolation are all symptoms of depression. Unexplained physical pains may also be attributed to depression. Depression, when left untreated, can cause individuals to take part in self-destructive behaviors, such as excessive drinking. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible. (Job loss can be devastating. Learn how to anticipate it and quickly get back on your feet. Check out Losing Your Job: From A To Z.)
The Bottom Line
If you're experiencing a number of the signs and symptoms of burnout, you should examine the cause of your feelings and what you can do to change your workplace environment to make it healthier for you. Don't be afraid to address the issues that are making you feel stressed or unhappy. Ultimately, if you feel like a change of environment would be best, it might be time to start looking for a new job. If this isn't an option for you, there are other possibilities. Perhaps requesting a transfer, or asking for new job tasks that will revive your interest can help to improve your motivation.
Finding motivation or happiness in other parts of your life can help to improve your outlook at work as well. Making a point of spending your off hours on hobbies, taking a vacation, or being physically active may help to improve your attitude and ability to handle stress overall. If you are at the point where you are experiencing burnout to such an extent that you are feeling depressed or taking part in self-destructive behaviors, you should speak to your doctor about long-term risks to your health and wellness, or possible treatments.