Burnout Red Flags: Common Risks

Uncategorized Oct 29, 2021

You don’t just start to feel exhausted, cynical, and ineffective overnight. Burnout is the consequence of compounding issues until you reach a breaking point. But what causes you to go over the edge? 

We all deal with moments of stress in our lives. And a high-stress job or activist role doesn’t always lead to burnout. Instead, it’s a combination of the factors —people, processes, and personality—that lead to eventual burnout. 

Let’s dig into a few of the common risks—especially in the workplace—that are associated with causing burnout. 

  • Unreasonable time pressures. Do you have enough time to do the work expected of you? Unfortunately for many people, a lack of time is the main source of burnout. With some studies finding that workers spend up to 80% of their day in meetings, on the phone, and responding to emails, we already have limited time to complete the critical work we do on our own. Unreasonable time pressure is a compounding issue. When you miss one unrealistic deadline it creates a snowball effect of stress for everyone.
  • Lack of communication and support from managers. Do you get the support you need each day to complete your work and feel accomplished? According to a 2018 report by Gallup, workers who feel strongly supported by their managers are 70% less likely to experience burnout. On the other hand, an indecisive, negligent, or aggressive manager can make you feel disconnected, frustrated, and cynical. 
  • Unclear responsibilities and expectations. Are you clear about your priorities and responsibilities? When every day feels like you’re chasing a moving target, it’s easy to become exhausted and upset. Unfortunately, only 60% of workers say they clearly know what’s expected of them each day.  
  • Unmanageable workloads. Is your plate full or overflowing? Even the best employees will suffer when too much work is tossed their way. And often the most capable employees are the ones given too much work. Whether it’s your boss or your own pride taking on too much, a packed to-do list will make the most optimistic employees feel hopeless.  
  • Weak time management principles. Do you know how to properly manage your time? Our workplace is at war with our attention and ability to focus. Yet studies show that multitasking and context switching can eat up 20–80% of your daily productivity. When you can’t manage your own day you become more vulnerable to overwork, stress, and burnout.
  • Excessive collaboration. Are you constantly waiting for other people? Collaboration is a necessary part of every work environment. However, when your ability to do your work feels out of your control it can lead to burnout.  
  • Lack of boundaries around work. Can you disconnect at the end of the day? Our always-on culture makes it difficult to separate your work from everything else. Yet it’s that inability to disconnect that causes the daily stressors to compound and become burnout. On the other hand, psychologically disconnecting from work has been linked to less fatigue, lower rates of burnout and greater satisfaction in work and life. 

These burnout red flags can happen anywhere and from a variety of sources. But again, it’s important to remember that you can’t control them all.

Rude and inconsiderate teammates or leaders can lead to increased cynicism and pessimism about your workplace. While unfair treatment, such as seeing those who are undeserving being rewarded, can cause detachment and apathy.

Focus on what you can do, but be aware that a toxic work environment, poor management, or unfair treatment are just as likely to cause burnout. 




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