Keep The Fire Burning

This past summer, we took a couple of occasions to address the need for business professionals to take an occasional break—a vacation from work, even a brief one—and gave you tips on how to cope with the mountain of must-do’s waiting for you upon your return.

But what if a vacation simply doesn’t cut it? What if you come back just as worn and tired as when you left–or even more so?

You, my friend, may be suffering from one of the most insidious workplace maladies of our age: employee burnout.

And this is not to be taken lightly. We all get run down periodically, fatigued, counting the hours until the next weekend.

But burnout—true burnout—is much more serious. And whether you’re supervising a team member who’s exhibiting the symptoms, or whether you’re feeling the burn yourself, steps need to be taken to keep the flame alive.

A recent study reported that 95% of human resource managers in the U.S. cited employee burnout as a major problem within their organizations. Reasons included unfair compensation (41%), an unreasonable workload (32%), and too much overtime or after-hours work (32%).

Regardless of what industry you’re a part of, today’s corporate environment is becoming more competitive by the day, and we push our teams—and ourselves—to greater and greater lengths to maintain and increase our productivity.

Remember when new technology was expected to actually make our jobs easier? The 40-hour week would become a thing of the past, as new tools and systems allowed us to do what used to be a full five days worth of work in half the time….or less.

Well, we were partially right—the 40-hour week DID go the way of the dinosaur. But unfortunately, it was replaced by 50- and 60-hour work weeks.

Instead of making our lives easier, new technology enabled us to stay plugged into our workflow regardless of time of day or location. And as our workload and output grew, so did the bags under our eyes.

Instead of memos piling up in our basket awaiting our return on Monday, emails and texts now hit us whenever the sender sees fit, and despite our best efforts, we all too frequently allow them to invade our precious off-hours.

And, be honest, when’s the last time you peeked at your work email on a Sunday afternoon without taking some sort of immediate action? One request leads to another, and before you know it, you’re back in the office without even putting on your shoes.

All of this has contributed to a legitimate epidemic level of burnout in corporate America, and in our next installment, we’ll discuss ways to try and prevent it.

But the MOST important goal is to recognize the signs early enough to adjust your workstyle and avoid it.

Because once the flame burns out, it can be a big, big challenge to light it again.

Grow Big or Go Home!