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The Building Blocks of Burnout

Burnout has been around so long and talked about in so many ways some people don't think it's even a thing. Some people will say burnout is about being tired or being bored or frankly just been disengaged. Unfortunately burnout is much more complex than any of those individual symptoms and it requires a much more thorough consideration.


There are some methods to approach burnout that help you stay healthy including:

  • eating better

  • sleeping more

  • getting more exercise

  • being intentionally present

  • practicing appreciation

  • journaling


These practices can absolutely relieve some of the pressures that come with modern stressors.


However sometimes the thoughtful response to the symptoms of burnout is not changing their situations. In particular, where the source of the burnout is work there are complex issues to deal with. It can be that the complexity isn't easily addressed using some of the aforementioned methods.


At work, burnout can show up when any or any combination of the following experiences are found to be lacking:


  1. sense of purpose

  2. mattering

  3. task significance

  4. task variance

  5. creativity

  6. relationship with a supervisor


These components that all can comprise to accumulate to become burnout. What to do about each of them is a different issue. The next blog posts will address each of these individually. The overview of this whole discussion is to examine and understand what burnout is what can be done to change course. Most importantly, how to avoid being a textbook example of burnout in the workplace.


As a leader it is critical to observe these circumstances for your employees. Employees who are burnt out are usually disengaged or maybe minimally producing and almost certainly will not be your high flyers. Employees experiencing burnout will likely not do anything for the organization to help it succeed beyond the bare minimum.


As a supervisor, it is critical to have conversations with your direct reports to understand their points of view, what they're doing, and how to engage discussions around burnout or the elements that can lead to burnout.


Throughout my career as a supervisor, I would consistently have conversations about how people were doing regarding their career path. This included where they saw themselves going within the organization or if their professional path will lead them out of the organization. That does not mean that they're being pushed out, it means as a leader, you care enough about them to show them their path is more important than their job. These conversations lead to some excellent professionals getting even better positions for them to continuously grow, develop, and move to another better position for their goals and aspirations. Overall the organization has better health as each individual within your organization knows that they matter as a person and they have purpose in their role and in their scope of performing their professional duties.


When employees know they matter and has a supervisor that reinforces that fact, they tend to be more satisfied, better engage their work, and are much less likely to experience symptoms of burnout.

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