Everyone is searching for the perfect work/life balance—that elusive harmony between time and energy spent working, relaxing, and doing what feeds the soul. When this balance is entirely off, you might be experiencing something resembling burnout. “Job burnout is when you find yourself recycling old ideas … You feel ‘stuck’ in your position and see no growth potential,” explains Vicky Oliver, author of Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots.
You might find yourself sinking into this specific kind of rut if you recognize that you’ve stopped thinking for yourself at work, you spend as little time in the office as possible, or you lose the desire to volunteer for new or challenging assignments. “Everyone feels like they are in a ‘work rut’ occasionally,” says Oliver, “But if the feeling never goes away and you begin dreading walking into the office, it’s probably a sign that you want to pivot.” Before you go changing careers, find out how you can acknowledge and overcome the signs of job burnout caused by these common factors. There’s hope, yet.
Sign 1: You Don't Feel In Control
If you feel that you have no control over your schedule, assignments, or workload, Oliver recommends taking a step back to evaluate the cause of this burden in order to best address it. “You need to figure out if the terrible workload is due to the fact that you’re not yet up to speed or because someone at the company has unrealistic expectations,” she says. It may be up to you to learn how to handle your tasks, but if there’s another factor, such as downsizing, affecting your workload, you’ll want to speak with your supervisor to try to come up with a solution. Once you get the situation under control, you’ll be one step closer to feeling good about being in the office every day
Sign 2: You're Unclear About Your Job Expectations
For Oliver, this one is simple. If there is anything unclear about what’s expected of you in the workplace, make an appointment to sit down with your supervisor. “Before you walk in, make sure that you have mapped out what you are asking them to do. This way, the conversation becomes concrete.” An honest and open conversation can lead to a greater understanding of what’s expected of you for both you and your boss, which hopefully will help you feel more positive about your responsibilities at work.
Sign 3: Your Workplace Is Dysfunctional
Dysfunction in the workplace can mean anything from a micromanaging boss to a full-fledged office bully. Both can contribute to feelings of job burnout, but there are ways to address these problems. Oliver suggests you indulge your micromanaging boss. “Let her see your to-do lists, what you’re working on, your schedule, etcetera until she begs you to stop. You have to gain her trust before she will fully trust you.” As for handling a bully in the workplace, Oliver recommends you stand up for yourself and find a way to discuss the problem with the bully first before taking the issue to human resources. This, of course, depends on the severity of the situation, but getting a handle on any personal problems at work will make your time there much more manageable.
Sign 4: You Don't Feel Supported
This goes for your support system at home, as well as in the office. Bring suggestions to your partner or roommates at home on how they can be there for you or discuss concrete ways you and your team need support at work with your boss. Feeling supported can go a long way in warding off signs of job burnout.
Sign 5: You Deal With Extremes in Activity
Whether your job is monotonous or utter chaos, both extremes can contribute to job burnout. If your job veers to the side of dull, Oliver suggests stepping up to find a new way to get things done. If your office falls on the other end of the spectrum, Oliver advises looking for ways to find solace in your day by working outside of the office occasionally, if possible. “Each company has a different rhythm,” she says. Work with your boss to find a way to enjoy your office’s specific workflow and environment. It can do wonders for your feelings toward your job.
Have you noticed any of these signs of job burnout in your work life? How do you work to stay passionate and excited about what you do?
Velando-Soriano A, Ortega-Campos E, Gómez-Urquiza JL, Ramírez-Baena L, De La Fuente EI, Cañadas-De La Fuente GA. Impact of Social Support in Preventing Burnout Syndrome in Nurses: A Systematic Review. Jpn J Nurs Sci. 2020;17(1):e12269. doi:10.1111/jjns.12269