Beating Burnout: Take Time to Break the Cycle

August 29, 2023

Professional burnout is a common and prevalent issue in today’s working world, resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been properly managed or alleviated. According to the World Health Organization, burnout is an official occupational phenomenon and can be characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job and/or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.

While roles in healthcare, retail, education and construction are known to have a high chance of burnout, the problems can happen to employees across industries. Strikingly, burnout can cost companies between $125 billion to $190 billion every year in healthcare costs, according to Forbes.

Fortunately, there are resources that can help break the cycle of burnout before it has an adverse effect on an individual’s health and wellbeing. Businesses can share tips with their team that can help reduce the risks:

  • Improve work/life balance by setting a designated “end” time to the workday

Hybrid work has made it easy to blur the lines between work time and personal time and is a contributor to feelings of burnout among today’s workers. Employees may feel pressured to respond to another email or to review another document late at night. An important aspect of maintaining mental health is to establish and consistently enforce personal boundaries. Encourage employees to protect their personal time and give themselves permission to put the extra work off until tomorrow. Employees can establish a designated end time in the morning and stick to it, prioritize tasks, follow a to-do list, and refrain from adding more to the list today. Dividing the day into “work time” and “personal time” provides structure and helps manage expectations.

  • Acknowledge and let go of stress

Allowing employees to process and release stress can offer a reset to mental health and make the day feel less daunting. Research indicates that deep breathing, positive social interaction, light exercise, laughter, affection, and even crying are all significant stress reducers. Encourage employees to block time on their calendar to acknowledge current stressors. Doing so will allow their brain to process and body to release these stressors. Even a short time engaging in stress-relieving activities can be beneficial.

  • Be kind by practicing self-care

Some employees may have demands in their professional and/or personal lives that make self-care feel out of reach. Encourage employees to make themselves a top priority and take part in whatever makes them happy. Practicing regular self-care helps to regulate emotional responses, improves the ability to focus, and can have positive impacts on mood and productivity. Encourage employees to plan for 30 minutes; if this timeframe feels intimidating, they can break it down into two 15-minute breaks at different points of the day. Self-care looks different for everyone, and can include taking a walk, reading a chapter or two in a book, watching funny videos, or going shopping.

  • Establish connections and remember purpose

Encourage employees to focus on feeling connected to something bigger than themselves, acknowledging that their work matters, and understanding how their work affects other people. Encourage them to talk with teammates (or privately reflect) about why they joined their industry and what they hope to achieve in their work.

  • Take action for long-term professional resolution

Encourage employees to request time to talk to their manager about career advancement, prioritizing/organizing their current workload, or other educational/training opportunities that pique their interest. The entire company benefits when team members feel fulfilled at work.

Learn More about Professional Burnout: