Struggling with Career Burnout? Here’s What You Need to Do

Feeling burned out? You’re not the only one. A report on stress statistics by the APA notes how American workers across different states saw heightened rates of burnout in 2021. 79% of employees experienced work-related stress, and nearly 3 in 5 employees reported a negative impact, including cognitive weariness, emotional exhaustion, and even physical fatigue.

This doesn’t just affect employee satisfaction, but also reduces productivity, with 95% of HR experts agreeing that burnout and stress end up destroying workplace retention. Stress-reducing measures should be top of mind for all, more so for employees who are directly affected.

Does this sound familiar to you? Here’s what you should do.

Take a breather

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It’s important to address the roots of burnout, and taking a step back from everything is precisely what you need to assess where you stand. A study on burnout approaches by the EJWOP discusses how burnout arises from a chronic mismatch between employees and their work setting. This can include workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and even values.

If you aren’t gaining any sense of satisfaction from your career, an article on LHH covering burnout suggests that you may have actually reached a dead end. While they sound similar, the two are actually different ideas: in a survey, 37% reported feeling burned out, 24% felt they’d hit a dead end, and 12% were undecided.

Identifying this is the first step to resolving your career struggles because the two have different solutions. Dead ends represent a stronger incompatibility with your current career choice itself, while burnout merely suggests that something needs to change.

Consider changing jobs

This may seem like a huge step, but is actually a pretty common one. Under the Great Resignation, 69 million Americans quit their jobs between 2020 and 2021. Commonly cited reasons weren’t financial gain, but feeling undervalued or disengaged.

This may be the perfect time to chase your passion instead, another top contending reason cited during the Great Resignation. Our previous article on Career Decisions weighs up money over passion — because if there’s anything we learned from Covid-19, it’s that life can be too short and precious to waste away. The old advice after all says, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other. With the huge influx of job seekers, more employees are upgrading their total compensation packages by increasing salaries, 401K contributions and expanding benefits, in order to stand out from the competition.

Inform your supervisor

After thorough self-assessment, it is time to consult your co-workers, especially your boss. Don’t feel too pressured — your supervisors are human and with the universality of the burnout phenomenon, they are likely to sympathize and want to help. A guide on confronting your boss by HBR explains how it is important to create a productive conversation.

Come in with a plan and suggestions, especially with specific explanations of what you’re experiencing. Take the time as well to acknowledge any slip-ups that you have made during your burnout. These show that you’re serious about taking responsibility, rather than venting out your frustration.

Not every boss may navigate this conversation gracefully, but that may be a sign in itself for what you have to do next. Take your time to decide but start today. Burnout isn’t a setback but a stepping-stone that, once overcome, only leads to greater opportunities.

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