Continuing on from our previous post on burnout and steps we take to help avoid it, how can we identify burnout in our own lives and those we work with? Anyone and everyone, can experience burnout. It is not related to particular job functions or levels, rather it is linked to any area where there is consistent high level stress, tight deadlines, and unavailable resources.
Sound like you? Read on!
Like with any disease or affliction, solving the problem starts with identifying the problem.
Burnout symptoms are fairly widespread, as it affects everyone in different ways. However, some common symptoms are:
- Feeling constantly tired and/or drained
- Appetite and/or sleep troubles (too much or too little)
- Falling ill more frequently (lowered immunity)
- Lack of motivation
- Feelings of failure or doubt (impostor syndrome)
- Feeling detached
- Frequent headaches and/or muscle pains
- Withdrawing from your responsibilities
- Isolating yourself
- Skipping, being late for work or leaving early (habitually)
- Using crutches to cope (food, alcohol, cigarettes, etc)
Identifying personal burnout
Burnout creeps up on you over time, so it can be hard to spot until it truly settles in. However, a good place to start is to take notice of how long you’re working – more than a full-time schedule (40 hours per week) is likely to lead to crashing out.
Another great way to identify it is to take a step back and ask yourself how you feel about your work. It’s simple but effective.
If you’re generally happy with what you do, feel like your work is rewarding, and have reasonably consistent motivation to tackle your tasks as they come, you’re probably doing okay.
If you’re constantly getting distracted, putting off tasks when you know you should be knuckling down or feeling more strained than usual over minor duties, it’s likely that you need to take a break. (ref: process street)
Identifying colleague/team burnout
Identifying burnout in a colleague or employee is always a tightrope walk between assessing the general ebb-and-flow of performance and identifying a chronic issue.
As alluded to in our previous post, identifying how many hours everyone is working is still a solid tactic. Anything more than 40 hours per week (on a regular basis) will almost inevitably turn into burnout. This is also true for those team members who have more time allocated to them in tasks than they should have in a given day.
You can also ask team members how they’re feeling during your to get a sense of their life as a whole. After all, burnout isn’t always caused by an over-abundance of work – it can be compounded by anything from feeling like they aren’t being recognised for their work to personal issues draining their focus.
The important thing is to keep communicating with them and to let them know you’re here to help if they’re having troubles. If they’re having consistent issues with getting their work done on time and to a respectable standard, make a point to schedule time to talk with them about it.
Colleagues and employees aren’t the enemies here – burnout is. You need to work with them in order to beat it.