A Jaded Employee’s Career Burnout Guide

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After you graduated with a shiny bachelor’s degree, the real world seemed full of exhilarating opportunity. Now, a few years later, you feel like you couldn’t care less. The challenges you face in your job aren’t interesting, and you rarely feel motivated to put in more than 25 percent of your effort, even though your boss keeps pushing for 110. Maybe you struggle to focus on tasks at hand, instead becoming consumed by small irritations and annoyances around the office.

Your problem is easy to diagnose: employee’s career burnout. Burnout is a mental condition that can negatively impact your work and life, causing fatigue, apathy and depression. Fortunately, the prognosis is good as long as you are willing to make significant changes to your lifestyle and attitude. If you still have major ambitions but are unable to summon even minor amounts of enthusiasm for your job, this guide is for you.

A Jaded Employee’s Career Burnout Guide
A Jaded Employee’s Career Burnout Guide

Common Causes of Employee’s Career Burnout

In general, prolonged exposure to mild to severe amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone, will eventually cause burnout. However, by identifying what is causing your body to pump out cortisol, you can better recover from your burnout and resume your climb to your dream career. Here are the six most common sources of burnout at work:

Overload. When your tasks are too complex, too urgent and/or too numerous too much of the time, “overwhelmed” swiftly turns into burnout.

Lack of control. Your boss doesn’t have to be breathing down your neck 24/7 for you to feel like you don’t have a say in how (and when) you do your job.

Conflicting values. If the corporate culture around you doesn’t agree with your core values, you might feel constantly attacked.

Insufficient rewards. Everyone wishes they were paid a bit more, but if you seriously feel taken for granted, you probably won’t try as hard.

Lack of fairness. It doesn’t feel good to frequently see favoritism, nepotism or seemingly arbitrary rewards.

Lack of community. Like it or not, you see the people you work with more than you see your family. If you don’t feel connected to them, you’ll start to hate going to work.

Bouncing Back From Employee’s Career Burnout

Different psychologists have different opinions on the best way to bounce back from career burnout, but nearly all agree that investing in yourself is key. In all of the above-listed causes, problems arise because you or those around you are not putting you first; you feel forgotten, ignored or undervalued, so you give up. By putting more emphasis on your own health, happiness and success, you will begin to recover your lost feelings.

Some psychologists prioritize health as a means of recuperating from burnout. You can try finding exercise you enjoy, following a healthy diet and regularly avoiding potential toxins like alcohol and drugs. Indeed, by giving your body a baseline of health, you are likely to stabilize your hormones and generate more positive emotions.

However, as you enhance your body, you shouldn’t forget about your mind. You can stimulate your brain and improve your career prospects by returning to school. By enrolling in advanced education, you will prepare yourself for a job change, which might be necessary to get you out of your rut. You can enroll today in an online MBA, no GMAT required, to truly commit to recovering from burnout. You might ask your current employer if they are willing to sponsor your courses, which could relieve some financial stress.

Avoiding Future Employee’s Career Burnout

Burnout isn’t like chickenpox; surviving one bout doesn’t prevent it from coming back in the future. In fact, once you develop burnout, you are even more susceptible to the mental disease. Thus, you need to be careful to stave off burnout during your recovery and especially after you start to feel normal.

Communication with your employer is critical for this. As soon as you feel the signs of burnout begin to develop, you should schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss your options. Ideally, you can use some of your vacation days to take a break from work and regain your balance. However, you might also request new responsibilities or a more flexible schedule – whatever you feel will alleviate your stress.

( Photo by AndersLindgren )

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6 Responses to A Jaded Employee’s Career Burnout Guide

  1. Kevin, I wanted to get your personal view on what the hell is going on at my company. This topic: “Career… Burnout due to insufficient rewards” seems to fit best. Because, if my company doesn’t come through with at least a COL raise (2.8%) AND a bonus from a group we have workes for since mid-2017, yet they have not given us a single penny from their bonus pool yet, that will be the last straw for me.
    I have been here for almost 19 years. We ALWAYS received some kind of gift at Christmas, including though the internet bust in the early 2000s, then through the Great Recession. Now, nonsensically, our company is bragging that 2017 and 2018 were two years of their best years ever. And yet, for the first time in 19 years, the regular exempt and nonwxwmpt employees like me got a big ZERO for Christmas. Well, I did get one gift…. The flu, either from work office or more likely the commute on the train. I am over 56 years old and I really don’t need this shit. Why are they doing this if they are having great years? I will let you know if my raise / bonus/ profit sharing more than make up for the lack of Christmas incentives. When I started here in 2000, it was EXPECTED that management gave at least 1% of their yearly income as a Christmas bonus to their support staff. That doesn’t seem to exist anymore. I used to go home with $300+ in gifts, gift cards,and cash. So what is up…. Why are companies saying they are having their best years ever and the rank and file employees are getting NOTHING? I plan to leave as soon as the market goes back up (could be a few years) and take my chances at local part time preferably union work with health benefits plus my own businesses…. This “fancy” job in a skyscraper in a major east coast city has ruined my health and definitely has not paid me in either cash or benefits commensurate to what I am worth on the market.
    Anyway, I wrote a lot but the main question I would like your view on is:. Why are companies saying they are doing better than ever, but their employees are getting LESS this year than previous?

  2. And I will add — I know many people who lost their jobs in their 50s, with excellent work records, and they cannot even find a job. Yet the economists in Washington are talking about lowest unemployment ever and companies unable to fill positions! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!!!!

  3. Hi Irene – If you’ve spent much time on this blog you probably already have a good idea what my response will be. Companies are having the best years ever – for them. But part of the reason they’re having such great years is because they’re squeezing their employees. Yes, they talk the talk of “The Team”, and that other buzz phrase that’s straight out of Hell, synergy, but that only refers to what you owe your employer. It collapses completely when it comes to compensation.

    My wife and I were having this same discussion a couple of days ago. She’s in sales, and the company steadily makes it more difficult for them to increase their commissions and bonuses. I’ve seen this happen at other companies. They always want more production, but they reward it less and less. So to your point about the company having record years, they absolutely are. But it’s coming out of your compensation, either through increased responsibilities, or restricted income.

    I saw this happening back in the 1990s, and got out then. There’s no way any of us can change what’s going on – it’s the new trend and it’s become the norm. As to the politicians and academics who cheer on the “everything’s great” narrative, that’s their job and we should ignore it. Our lives aren’t the statistics coming out of government agencies, they’re the real circumstances we deal with every day. What’s happening at your company is happening at thousands more. The powerful never cared about the workers. But in the past 20-30 years, they know workers will put up with whatever crap their fed, and they’re taking full advantage.

    I’d recommend staying at the job only as long as it makes sense financially. But you mentioned something about having businesses. My recommendation is to devote your best energy to building those up. At 56, the reality is they may get rid of you at any time. Mixing a business with a part-time job may be a way to reinvent yourself. So while you’re building up your businesses, also prepare your finances. Build up savings, get out of any debt you have, and cut your living expenses any way you can.

    I’d love to tell you to simply get another job, but by now you’ve probably figured out it’s the same all over. Better to work on a permanent solution that’s of your own choosing.

    BTW, I just learned my daughter’s girlfriend lost her job the day after Christmas. Go “Team”, right???

  4. Oh WOW, that’s terrible, the day after Christmas. They would need security to walk me out of the building because I would have words for everyone. This is nuts.

  5. Yeah, but fortunately she went in today and they paid her all they owed her, plus a full day today, even though she didn’t work. The good part is she’s highly likely to find a replacement job quickly. But as she put it, “now I have to get used to a new place, new people, a new routine, and possibly a new schedule”. That’s really the worst of it. Fortunately she’s in a good position with her finances, but some of her coworkers have kids, etc. It’s never pretty.

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