You’re Burned Out, Not Lazy: 7 Things To Know

You’re Burned Out, Not Lazy: 7 Things To Know

burned out

Photo: Eduard Figueres / iStock, https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/EduardFigueres?assettype=film

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement against structural racism, many Black employees are finding themselves emotionally and physically burned out.

While some may confuse this as slacking off or laziness on the job, many employees are suffering from burnout characterized by low motivation or low incentive to work and both physical and mental exhaustion.

Employees struggling to do simple tasks can frustrate themselves and their co-workers or loved ones.

Black people have borne the disproportionate brunt of the pandemic lockdowns, political strife from the death of George Floyd, and the unfulfilled call for social justice. Black women in particular were less supported by their employers, according to a McKinsey study of how women fared in the workplace during the pandemic.

While burnout is not classified as a medical disease by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is included among the reasons people contact health services. You’ll find it listed in the ICD-11, the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) — the standard for recording health information and causes of death.

The WHO defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” including the following:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to the job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

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Here are seven things to know why burnout is not laziness:

1. Zero motivation, tired all the time

One of the signs that you are fatigued is being tired all the time. Often, this tiredness is not a medical condition and can easily be reversed by a change of lifestyle that allows more resting time.

If unchecked, this constant tiredness can negatively impact performance at work, family life and social relations. A doctor’s diagnosis might miss the cause of the fatigue because it is difficult to diagnose the underlying cause.

2. Know the signs

One of the obvious signs of burnout is lack of motivation in things you used to do with ease like going to the gym or swimming or even reading a book. These can be coupled with anxiety that you cannot place on any reason and difficulty concentrating. Other indicators include reduced creativity and feelings of listlessness. Knowing the signs is the first step in knowing how to remedy the problem.

3. High-stress job does not necessarily lead to burnout

A high-stress job does not always lead to burnout. If stress is managed well, there may not be any ill effects. But certain jobs, such as being a physician, are more prone to burnout than others. The 2019 National Physician Burnout, Depression, and Suicide Report found that 44 percent of physicians experience burnout.

4. Causes of employee burnout

A 2018 Gallup report showed that employee burnout had five main causes: unreasonable time pressure, lack of communication and support from a manager, lack of role clarity, unmanageable workload, and unfair treatment.

5. Managing stress keeps burnout at bay

Developing life-work balance strategies that help manage stress and stressful environments is a great step to managing and avoiding burnout. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep help to reduce the effects of a stressful job or situation.

6. Working more than 60 hours a week causes burnout

Research by the American Institute of Stress showed that burnout sets in when people consistently work 60 hours or more per week. During covid, many employees struggled to separate and balance their professional and personal responsibilities when working from home, which led to high instances of burnout.

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7. Changing the work culture for the better

The biggest issue companies face isn’t revenue or conversion rates but employee burnout, according to Ania Smith, the CEO of TaskRabbit, a platform that connects people to local workers for help with everyday household tasks. A recent survey of 1,000 employees across the U.S. found that 89 percent reported feeling burned out in 2021.

Simple changes at work could do wonders to help employees manage stress and avoid burning out, Smith said. These include scheduling company-wide vacations or encouraging employees to take “high quality time off” and do activities such as rock climbing vs. a massage, salsa dancing vs. laundry, hiking vs. watching TV, surfing vs. video games or woodworking vs. social media. Finally, offering perks for long-term employees such as like sabbatical leaves provides opportunities for prolonged personal and professional growth, while also encouraging longevity in the workplace.

Photo: Eduard Figueres / iStock, https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/EduardFigueres?assettype=film