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No burn-outs



Are you in danger of burning out at the workplace? Then it's time to get back into your groove

Surabhi Paliwal

In simple terms, a career burn-out or job burn-out is a state/phenomenon wherein an individual feels saturated at a job. It is usually that phase of one's career wherein one feels that their job is not helping them grow/gain new skills and has become monotonous or repetitive. If you answer yes to any of the below questions, you might be experiencing a job or career burn-out:

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?

“I was working with a company for a couple of years and didn't really think that I was learning and growing on the job. We then had layoffs in the company and although I got to keep my job, it was frustrating to realise that my skills had become outdated and my growth stagnant. I noticed how I didn't enjoy the work much, and was low on performance indicators. I was almost having a work burn-out," shares Manuel D'Souza, chief human resources officer, Intelenet Global Services. He further tells us, "It was then that I decided to turn this situation around. I took a break, rewired myself and moved on to a different company to challenge myself in a new role and get a new experience.”

A career burn-out needs to be seen in the larger perspective of our changing social dynamics. “Nuclear families, working parents, increased competition, etc., mean that people need to manage multiple priorities, wear multiple hats and generally deal with higher levels of stress. Amidst these undercurrents, if they are also unable to find purpose or passion in what they do for a living, things can easily deteriorate into a total burn-out resulting in exhaustion, irritability, disinterest and demotivation,” explains Kaushik Ghosh, people head, ThoughtWorks India.

Deal with a burn-out

  • Chip off the burn-out source: It is crucial to figure out the source of burn-out, in order to make relevant changes. Whatever be the source, you need to cut it off completely. In case the burn-out is job-related, figure out the issue and take steps to change it. Generally, workload and high-pressure deadlines are the most common reasons for work burn-out. “Talk to your supervisors, realign your responsibilities, prepare a more comfortable schedule, and find time for things you love,” suggests Ghosh.
  • Breathers are important:  It is crucial, whether for a couple of minutes or for a couple of days, to take some time to recharge yourself. “Set up reminders to get up from your desk and move around; this is one of the simplest methods to conquer a burn-out,” recommends D'souza. Make use of your paid-time offs (PTOs) and take breaks from work to reinvigorate. Customising one's agenda as per one's needs can counterbalance the burn-out by providing a greater sense of control and management.
  • Un-follow the routine: We all have a daily routine to follow, and when you are burnt out, it becomes really de-motivating to keep doing the same thing or it can also be said that because we keep doing the same thing, it becomes de-motivating. Break the monotony and be unusual!
  • Find meaning at your work: “Work can become really meaningful, if one is able to identify the most fulfilling elements,” says Zhang. This will help to keep a burn-out at bay as you are enjoying the work and spend most of your time doing projects that you like.

After the identification that you are burnt out, the apparent step is to figure out the reason behind your frustration. Burn-out manifestation does not happen overnight; it is a gradual process and, therefore, transition takes some time too. Vivek Zhang, CMO, Vivo India, believes that for a transition from burn-out, it is imperative to make changes in one's lifestyle and stick with it. Once a changed routine is adopted, you will start to feel motivated back again.

Ghosh draws an analogy between a speeding car that overtakes many, but also burns more fuel, and an employee who is headed for a burn-out. So if one chooses to go really fast, refuelling is crucial; else there's a risk of running out of gas in a crucial phase. Burn-outs, if revisited with new eyes, help us learn more about our needs and priorities. Janet Fitch has rightly quoted that the “The phoenix must burn to emerge.”

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