The fast pace of work and life is a given. We are all told that anything is possible if we push ourselves to work hard, achieve more, keep the pressure on, break that glass ceiling. But sometimes the fall-out of our can-do work attitude is something quite different. A feeling of can’t-do and won’t. This is burnout.
The issue of burnout is a surprisingly common problem – in the IT industry just as much as anywhere else. A YouGov survey from 2015 showed that over half (51%) of all full-time UK employees said they have experienced anxiety or burnout in their current job.
As an employer, Chelsea Apps recognises the potential problem it poses amongst all staff. So this week’s blog looks into the issue of personal burnout, how to notice the symptoms and how to avoid it in the future.
Why is burnout more prevalent now?
Over the years, the way in which people work has significantly changed, and now with technology being such a huge part of our day to day lives the boundaries between work and home are increasingly blurred.
Even though this offers flexibility and freedom to establish new working practices, there is also the temptation to let work encroach on personal time to the extent where the odd late night becomes an ‘always on’ habit. It takes rigour and discipline to achieve a good work/life balance but it is essential to your personal well-being and your work productivity.
Sometimes stress can creep up on you. Oddly enough it’s often the high achievers who are most likely to suffer from it and the least likely to admit it to themselves.
Let’s be clear here – burnout is not just being a bit stressed, tired or in need of a good holiday. Burnout isn’t having to work late a few nights in a row. Burnout isn’t about shirking hard work.
Burnout is a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. And it’s surprisingly easy to reach this state. It can occur when you feel emotionally drained, overwhelmed and are unable to meet constant demands that are made of you.
- Feeling tired/drained most of the time
- Loss of motivation
- Isolating yourself from others
Burnout can cause long-term mental and physical health related consequences. So prevention is better than cure. Here are a few simple things that you can do to keep your life in balance..
Five ways to avoid Burnouts:
Cut down on your admin:
Stressed by email? Learn how to prioritise and file time wasting emails. Turn off pesky notifications and plan times in the day to deal with your inbox. It may only be first thing in the morning, lunchtime and before you leave. Ironically people approaching burnout often exhibit ‘super busy’ symptoms – one of which is fixating on email, sending more than usual and setting up more and more meetings. If this is you – scale it back before it’s too late.
Be more disciplined about meetings – stand up and take a timer in with you
Find you’re always in meetings but never seem to have time to do the follow-up work? Start taking control of your time. OK, taking a timer in with you may seem extreme, but it’s effective in getting meetings to conclude on time. Standing meetings are also helpful in getting things done quickly.
Get more sleep
Practising all those dull screen rules close to bedtime do help get a good night’s rest. Try not to work late, give your mind time to wind down – you know the routine – bath, milky drink, no alcohol, no screens, cool room, boring book = zzzzzs.
If you recognise you’re burning out, don’t do what the majority of people do and try to work harder in an attempt to clear the workload. Take it down a notch or two, avoid the overload, stop the burnout happening.
If you burnout – recognise the symptoms and get help
Rest and recovery are the best healers. Giving in, not fighting the tide of work, taking time out, admitting you are not a machine – these are not signs of weakness. Just signs of being human. We all are.
Stress is a double-edged sword. It can improve our performance at work, speed up responses, thinking time and help us produce work of exceptional quality. Too much stress and it has precisely the opposite effect; reducing productivity and even stopping it entirely.
What is Chelsea Apps doing to help?
Employers have just as much responsibility as employees’ to help reduce burnout. At CA we safeguard our employee’s health in a number of ways:
- We have weekly team meetings where everyone says what they need help with that week.
- Holiday taking is actively encouraged and HR will intervene if none is booked.
- Working from home for a day or two is available for anyone wanting some flexibility.
- We monitor performance against goals and assess workload for achieving these.
- A healthy balanced lifestyle is promoted: we work in a beautifully airy, open plan space, offer free breakfasts, a cycle to work scheme, facilities for runners and cyclists, socials – with further plans for onsite yoga.
- We keep meetings short, opt for stand-ups and use productivity tools to cut admin.
- We ask for weekly feedback via our own app – Voices – which monitors the mood of the company.