Death from overwork has become a phenomenon of the past. It is now so commonly featured in the news that masses are accustomed and no longer phased by this occurrence. So why does this happen? The answer to that is workplace burnout.
What is workplace burnout?
Workplace burnout is psychological and physical exhaustion caused by chronic stress that arises from your occupation. I would define it as an out of sync feeling towards all aspects of your life, which then leads to a lack of motivation, dread to go to work and eventually, mental and health issues.
Here are several factors that you will need to know to understand more about workplace burnout:
- Zero Work-Life Balance.
All you do is eat, sleep and dream work. There is always work-related issues that cropping up at the very last minute or after working hours, which you need to deal with, interfering with your leisure time. The interference is even more detrimental when it happens during your day off. You will feel as though work is like a parasite that is invading your body, heart, and soul. It is forever “crunch time” with barely any downtime for you to recover and like a battery, you will slowly feel depleted and worn out from this never-ending cycle.
You are one of them if you are fixated on achieving the unrealistically high standards that you have set for yourself yet constantly worry about not measuring up. Everyone is a perfectionist in one-way or the other. However, a perfectionist in the workplace can be a double-edged sword. Although they possess a strong motivation to achieve their goals, they are nit-picky and always worry about the work that they do, which causes them to spend more time than necessary to complete their tasks so that it is perfect. The perfectionist attitude leads to overwork and stress as their work piles up consequently.
You can physically feel it weighing your shoulders down. Chronic stress overworks the body by disrupting essential bodily processes to produce unnecessary stress hormones continuously. The build-up of stress hormones will lead to a weakened immune system as your body becomes overexpose to these hormones, which makes you more susceptible to health problems. Here are some stress-related health issues that you might face:
1. Gastrointestinal diseases such as peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, etc.
2. Allergic inflammatory responses such as asthma, eczema, and hives, etc.
3. Coronary heart diseases such as heart attacks and hypertension, etc.
6. Eating disorders
- Rewards x Workload.
Imagine working from 9 am to 3 am the next day without overtime pay for a week or more because of the paperwork you have to complete. You love your job very much but would you feel motivated to continue working like this, with only about 4 hours of sleep every day, for the organization? I don’t think so! You will probably find yourself thinking, “It is not worth it” or “They don’t pay me enough for the effort I am putting in.”
It is akin to a weighing scale, where the rewards and workload have to balance up so that you have the motivation to work. If not, there will be a psychological imbalance that will lead to chronic stress from the dissatisfaction accumulated through constant overworking.
- Working environment.
A supportive workplace with colleagues whom you can seek help from and bosses who understand you, can help to protect you from workplace burnout. Colleagues and bosses are people who you will have high interpersonal interactions throughout the week on a daily basis. Therefore, they become emotional triggers that will either enthuse you OR make you a cynic and rob your love for the job away. If they are negative emotional triggers, this will place you under pressure as you won’t be able to find any motivation to perform well at your job. Furthermore, the negative emotions will start to accumulate, and without an outlet (remember those weekends your burned working?), it will lead to workplace burnout.
After understanding the several reasons behind workplace burnout, which is made up of two main categories - organizational environment and personal characteristics, it is time for you to find out what kind of career would suit you to prevent workplace burnout.
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