When we have been subjected to ongoing stress in our workplace, we are likely to feel physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, leading to a condition known as burnout. When a person is suffering from workplace burnout, they may struggle to complete necessary tasks at work (as well as in their personal lives) and often experience reduced workplace satisfaction. When left unchecked, workplace burnout can largely disrupt a person’s work life as well as their personal life, including their health, relationships and overall happiness.
Employees (and employers) identified as ‘high achievers’ are frequently at risk of burnout, as they often acquire more and more work, beyond a manageable level, often resulting in workplace burnout.
The specific cause(s) of workplace burnout may differ from one person to another, and some industries reflect much larger numbers of burnout cases compared to others. Let’s take a look at some of the common causes of workplace burnout below.
Causes Of Workplace Burnout
Excessive Workload Or Unreasonable Requests
When work gets added to our pile, over and over again, we eventually reach a point where it is not feasible, physically or mentally, to complete it all. Or sometimes, we may be presented with tasks that are unreasonable and we may lack time, energy, resources or skills to complete them efficiently and effectively. This can lead to feeling completely exhausted and may result in burnout.
Unreasonably Long Working Hours
In most industries and positions, it is not uncommon for management to request you work longer hours or over-time occasionally, when a particular project or other task demands it. However, our bodies do not operate well under chronic stress, and burnout occurs when a person works excessively long hours for a longer than they can manage.
Lack Of Work-Life Balance
Consistently working unreasonably long hours for reasons such as trying to get a handle on your excessive workload may result in a rather large lack of work-life balance. When we do not get enough rest, sleep or have the time to adequately take care of ourselves (e.g. eating well) and enjoying our life (i.e. spending time with family and friends and enjoying hobbies), it can lead to a feeling of total exhaustion.
High-Risk Or High-Stress Role
Jobs whereby the health and/or safety of workers is at high risk (as is the case for many police officers and nurses, for example) can leave staff feeling physically, mentally and emotionally burnt out, as they deal with particularly challenging situations in their workplace on an ongoing basis.
Not knowing or understanding what is expected of us within our role and the workplace can leave many of us feeling chronically stressed and burnt out, due to fear of the unknown.
Lack Of Control
Where we don’t have much say in what we do or how we go about things at work, or in situations where we lack an appropriate amount of autonomy, it can leave us feeling stressed and exhausted. Being forced to do certain tasks or things in a way we do not agree with can largely affect our mental and emotional health. Similarly, being micromanaged is not ideal and can affect not only our working relationships with others, but our self-confidence as well.
Lack Of Reward Or Recognition
Feeling like you are not recognised for your hard work and dedication, whether it be in terms of praise or compensation/remuneration, or even having your ideas go unnoticed, can leave you feeling let down and dissatisfied and this can take its toll on your health in a variety of different ways.
You may be surprised to learn that task monotony, i.e. completing the same tasks or projects, over and over, can in fact lead to burnout, as a result of boredom and perhaps also feeling like you are not adding any value.
Lack Of Development Or Advancement Opportunities
Not unlike the situation of task monotony, when we lack opportunities to develop our skills or make advancements in our career (e.g. be offered promotions), we can lose interest in our jobs, become bored, feel undervalued and ultimately, burnt out.
Poor Workplace Morale Or Dynamics
Not only is it hard to get motivated to attend work and do your best at a company whose morale is in its boots, it can also be depressing and mentally and emotionally exhausting. Things can be made worse where there is no opportunity for feedback or suggestions for improvement, often leading to a company’s morale remaining stagnant and pessimistic. A lack of sense of community can be debilitating and grate on a person’s wellbeing over time.
Difficult Co-workers And/Or Managers
Just like at home or with family and friends, regular conflict in the workplace is exhausting. Whether you don’t see “eye to eye” with another person (co-worker or manager) or disagree with the poor way in which somebody treats others, it can wreak havoc with our emotional health and also stop us from achieving what we need to in the workplace.
Lack Of Support In The Workplace (And/Or An Individual’s Personal Life)
A lack of support from direct team members, managers and other co-workers can be exhausting, whether in the form of a lack of backing you up with regards to work projects or emotional support in general.
Similarly, where an individual is lacking support in their personal life when they are having a challenging time in the workplace, this can lead to feelings of exhaustion.
Mismatched Values Between Employee And Employer
The importance of the alignment of values between you and your employer should not be underestimated. For most people, we spend a large amount of our lifetime in the workplace, and when our work contributes to values or goals that are not in line with our own, we can feel like our work is meaningless.
Poor Alignment Between A Job And A Person’s Skills And Interests
Similar to the having personal values in line with that of your employer, where a person continues to work in a role or environment that does not align with their skills and interests, an employee may quickly become bored, disinterested and even cynical in their role, and this chronic stress in regards to doing a job you don’t enjoy can lead to burnout.
Lack Of Communication And/Or Unfairness
Open communication between all people in the workplace i.e. managers and all other team members, is critical for good working relationships and a satisfied workplace. When other people, particularly management, are dishonest or lack transparency in how they go about things (such as when discussing and deciding upon promotions), it can reduce an employee’s trust in the organisation and leave them feeling frustrated and exhausted.
Similarly, when an employee feels like they or others have been treated unfairly or with disrespect, particularly where this is a consistent practice, it can drastically heighten their stress levels and leave them feeling emotionally exhausted.
As you can see, there are a large number of causes that may come into play when a person is experiencing burnout as a result of the workplace. It may be the case that only one or two causes are key to why a particular individual is battling with burnout, whereas for others, it may be a mix of causes.
In Part Two of our ‘Workplace Burnout’ series, we uncover eleven key signs and symptoms of workplace burnout. If you are concerned you or someone you know are suffering from workplace burnout, be sure to read this article by clicking here.
Understanding what burnout is and its causes is an important part of the recovery journey from burnout. However, it is vital you or someone you care about struggling with burnout seek professional help as soon as it is recognised, before it has the chance to largely impact your physical and mental health.
Contact our friendly team at Blissiree Pty Ltd today for professional help with burnout.