Tip #734:  How to Avoid Burnout


“The land of burnout is not a place I ever want to go back to.” Arianna Huffington

There was a time when I suffered from burnout. I worked in a high stress job. There was constant pressure to fulfill unreasonable expectations. This would have been bearable if I had received any recognition for my efforts (which included being on call 24 hours a day, and this was not an IT position)!

Unfortunately, positive feedback was nonexistent. What made things even worse was the perception that I held a favored status with the CEO, which made me a pariah among my peers.

My body finally betrayed me (or saved me). All of those sleepless nights and stressful days took a terrible toll. I ultimately left the position and the agency for a more welcoming, supportive and comfortable environment.

If only that the CEO and his management team had been aware of the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model developed by Arnold Bakker and Evangelia Demerouti. The model states that “even if you work in a demanding role, you can experience less stress if your organization provides resources to support you.”

This quote and the following information are drawn from an article written by the Mind Tools Content Team, The JD-R Model: Analyzing and Improving Employee Well-Being. JD-R

The model puts working conditions into two categories – job demands and job resources:

  • Job demands are the physical or emotional stressors in your role. These include time pressures, a heavy workload, a stressful working environment, role ambiguity, emotional labor, and poor relationships.
  • Job resources (job positives) are the physical, social, or organizational factors that help you achieve goals, and reduce stress. They include autonomy, strong work relationships, opportunities for advancement, coaching and mentoring, and learning and development.

The JD-R Model states that when job demands are high and job positives are low, stress and burnout  are common. Conversely, good job positives can offset the effects of extreme job demands, and encourage motivation and engagement. So the demands don’t have to go away, they just need to exist within a positive work environment.

Following the model, there are four steps that management can take. The first step is to identify the job demands and stressors that can have a negative effect on their employees. This includes: short deadlines, high volumes of work, an uncomfortable work environment, limited autonomy, poor working relationships, unclear goals, and excessively bureaucratic rules and procedures.

Once these negative job demands have been identified, the second step is to address those demands over which management has some control. From my standpoint, management has responsibility over all of these demands. The writers of the article recommend making sure people are in the right jobs,  removing bottlenecks, listening to employees and responding with empathy, and making their roles and the importance of those roles clear to each employee.

The third step is to identify possible job resources or job positives that can act as a buffer between employees and the demands of their jobs. This may involve: providing training or mentoring opportunities, giving regular constructive feedback, granting increased autonomy, clarifying goals, and establishing rules or benefits that support employees.

The fourth and last step is to promote those job resources and job positives.

This sounds like a basic primer in how to be a good manager, doesn’t it? There is nothing radically new – or even difficult. I think it simply takes caring about employees and wanting them to be emotionally healthy, well-balanced and successful.

Managers most certainly have significant demands and stressors that impact their workdays (and nights). Perhaps it’s difficult for some of them to see beyond their own issues and struggles.

But managers who take the time to get to know their employees and take positive action to minimize their stressors are golden.

You can check your level of burnout at https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_08.htm

You can check out this awareness resource that highlights the very high amount of burnout being experienced by today’s workers.  It also shows evidence of how most employers fail to address this serious issue. The resource features many compelling industry-wide data and stats gathered within the COVID-19 pandemic period, which will hopefully raise awareness and help put a prime on workers’ health and wellbeing.

You can read more of it here: https://www.fingerprintforsuccess.com/blog/signs-of-burnout-at-work

May your learning be sweet.

Deborah

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