- Quit rates are soaring and 80% of workers are experiencing burnout symptoms. What can we do about it?
- Allwork.Space spoke with Dr. Sherry Benton, founder of digital behavioral health platform TAO Connect, to understand more about career burnout.
- Dr. Benton offers guidance on how to spot burnout signs and shares four key strategies to help workers overcome it.
Recent surveys have found that 80% of workers are experiencing symptoms of burnout. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has also found that quit rates are the highest they have ever been in over 20 years.
While people are quitting for a variety of reasons, career burnout is one of them—workers are tired of overworking and, in many cases, they are unmotivated by the work they do. So, if you are feeling down, exhausted, and wanting to quit your job… you are not alone.
Allwork.Space spoke with Dr. Sherry Benton, founder of digital behavioral health platform TAO Connect, to learn more about how to recognize the signs of career burnout and what steps workers can take to regain control.
According to Dr. Benton, the top sources of career burnout are:
- Feeling unappreciated at work
- Toxic workplace culture
- Company changes like having a new manager or having a close colleague quit
- Needing a change.
Signs of Career Burnout
Dr. Benton explained that people don’t go from “I love my job to I am completely burnt out” in a short period of time. Rather, she argues that there is usually a progression that leads to burnout.
“You start to identify more sources of frustration, you lose enthusiasm in the work you do, and you start to see a gradual sliding to avoid, or a slow walk to what you have to do at work.”
Key signs of career burnout include:
- Exhaustion, tiredness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased levels of procrastination
- Being unmotivated
- Going through the motions
- Irritability, especially when small things are bothering you more than usual.
According to Dr. Benton, it’s key that you identify and recognize that you are experiencing these symptoms.
“It’s a slippery slope, and the faster you recognize it, the better. It’s easier to resolve burnout when you recognize it early versus when you are completely fed up and hating going to work.”
While burnout is not depression, Dr. Benton believes that those who are burnt out can be headed towards depression. Which is why many of the strategies that can help prevent feelings of depression are also helpful for burnout.
4 Strategies to Stop Career Burnout in Its Tracks
1. Give Yourself a Break
Literally and metaphorically.
Go for a walk, step away from your desk. Give yourself the opportunity to truly disconnect from work.
This will help you get some breathing room, as well as help you identify whether your feelings of burnout are related to work or something else going on in your life.
“Sometimes it can feel like work burnout, but oftentimes it’s actually a lack of stuff going on in your life,” Dr. Benton says.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have something in your life that provides meaning and purpose?
- Do you have enough social support in your life?
- Are you exercising and taking care of yourself?
“Most of us do well when we have multiple sources of wellbeing in multiple areas of our life — physical (exercise and diet), spiritual, and social wellbeing. When we have these multiple sources of support, we do pretty well. However, with COVID-19, social distancing, and working from home, it became significantly harder for people to have a sense of balance and keep all those other sources of wellbeing in check.”
2. Talk About It
“Very often if one person is burnt out, you probably have a lot of people around them that are battling with the same issues. When we can be there with each other, it can help lessen our burden.” -Dr. Benton
Talking about what you are feeling and experiencing with workers you trust—and even with your manager or boss—can go a long way in helping alleviate some of the symptoms of burnout.
“Getting support from coworkers is crucial. Being able to have people acknowledge how you feel can have a huge impact.”
Talking about burnout can help you reconnect with your support network and through it you can ask for the help you need—whether it’s simply to vent, to ask someone to help with your workload, or to provide you with resources that can better help you navigate what you’re feeling.
3. Prioritize Self-Care
Self-care is always important, but it is especially important if you feel like you are at your wits’ end.
Dr. Benton suggests the following for self-care:
“Figure out what you were doing when you felt better, are you still doing those things? If not, can you start doing those things again? Ask yourself:
- What were you doing for fun?
- Who were you spending time with?
- When was the last time you did any of that?”
It doesn’t have to be anything too elaborate.
Even if it’s just watching a funny movie, going to a concert, or taking a walk with a friend; if those things made you feel better before, they can help you feel better now.
Dr. Benton believes that mindfulness, meditation, and exercise are all very effective in helping people battle burnout.
4. Change Things Up
Sometimes, we all really do need a change.
This doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job and finding a new one (although in some rare instances, that can be the answer).
Dr. Benton suggests that if you are experiencing career burnout, that you change up what you are doing at work—ask your manager if you can trade some responsibilities, see if there are any new projects you can contribute to, or simply ask for a change of scenery in terms of where you are working from.
If you’re experiencing career burnout, you’re not alone.
The key to overcoming it is to think about what is missing from your life and figure out ways to getting those needs met. Once you have that figured out, you can be intentional about what you do.