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The Danger of Job Burnout
If you feel a lot of stress at work, you probably suspect that it is not good for your health. But you might be surprised to discover just how bad it can be. In a recent study, researchers at Tel Aviv University asked workers to answer the following questions with “never,” “sometimes,” “often” or “always:”
People who answered “often” or “always” to two or more questions were experiencing job burnout.
- How often are you tired and lacking energy to go to work in the morning?
- How often do you feel physically drained, as if your batteries were dead?
- How often is your thinking process sluggish or your concentration impaired?
- How often do you struggle to think over complex problems at work?
- How often do you feel emotionally detached from coworkers or customers, and unable to respond to their needs?
The researchers then looked into heart disease among the workers and discovered that this job-related stress was "a stronger predictor of coronary heart disease than many other known risk factors, including blood lipid levels, physical activity, and smoking.”
The Mayo Clinic identifies several factors as contributing to burnout and work-related stress, including:
When these and similar factors are present, you can start to feel burned out and stressed. If this is happening to you, Mayo suggests you take steps to relieve the stress, including:
- When you lack control over things like your schedule or your workload, and you lack the resources you need to do your job properly.
- When your employer and supervisors are unclear about what they expect from you.
- When your workplace is dysfunctional, with people who don’t get along, who backbite, etc.
- When your employer has significantly different values than you have.
- When your job is a poor fit for your skills and/or personality.
- When your workload means that your job is either overwhelmingly hectic or excruciatingly boring, with no middle ground.
- When you feel isolated at work, especially if you also feel isolated in your personal life.
- If your work is intruding too much into your home life.
Identify and manage the stressors. For example, if you feel stress because you can never catch up, consider rearranging your schedule by, for example, getting into the office earlier so you can get work done before your colleagues arrive and distract you.
Talk to your supervisor about how you feel and possible solutions. If your workload is unmanageable, does the company need to hire someone else to help? If your work is intruding on your home life, could you work some days from home or switch to a job-share arrangement?
Use stress reductions strategies such as meditation and exercise. Take small breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries. If your company has an Employee Assistance Program, see what it offers. If you feel the need to talk to a counselor, do so.
Consider what kind of job you might enjoy more. Take an honest look at your skills and interests, and decide whether this job is simply wrong for you. Sometimes you can ease workplace problems by adjusting your own attitude and making changes in your approach or routine. But sometimes you can’t.
Start looking for a new job if you don’t think you can be happy in your current job. After all, no job is more important than your health.