Nov 28 / Stella Rapti

Coping with Work Burnout in Challenging Times: John's True Story

When John S. received his first promotion to manager at a large multinational tech company two years ago, his future looked bright. He had achieved a significant career milestone, received a generous pay raise, moved into a larger apartment with his girlfriend, and started feeling valued and important within the organization.

However, just months later, John began experiencing physical symptoms of stress, including headaches and backaches. His sleep quality suffered, and he often felt tired and unmotivated to go to work. Despite his efforts, he continued to receive harsh feedback from his director, who expected him to bounce back and perform even better.

John hesitated to share his struggles with his director, fearing that his concerns would be misconstrued as weakness. He didn't want to admit that he was overwhelmed by the long hours, the relentless stream of emails and messages, the office politics, and the pressure to deliver stellar results. He also avoided discussing the stress he experienced preparing quarterly presentations, facing constant criticism, and lacking adequate support.

As a result, John continued to work despite feeling disillusioned, tired, demotivated, uncreative, and uninspired. It was during this time that he came across an article about burnout that resonated deeply with him. The article described symptoms that mirrored his own experiences, including:

 - Physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion
 - Overreactions to minor triggers, exhibiting anger, aggression, edginess, and impulsiveness.
 - Lack of engagement in meetings
 - Difficulty concentrating, leading to mistakes.

 - Trouble sleeping
 - Racing heartbeat

John realized he was no longer the confident, ambitious manager he once was. He was no longer the caring partner he wanted to be for his girlfriend. He was burnt out.

John's situation is not unique. According to a recent study by EY Greece on Mental Health in the Workplace, published in May 2023, 50% of employees struggle to manage excessive stress symptoms. Additionally, 75% of employees prioritize their mental health more than ever before, and 85% of employees worldwide report a significant decline in their well-being during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through several coaching sessions, John gained clarity on the factors that contributed to his burnout, which are common among many employees:

- Relentless pressure from an excessive workload:
The demand for productivity often leads to unrealistic expectations and constant pressure to meet tight deadlines, creating an environment conducive to burnout

- Lack of control over one's work: Feeling micromanaged or having limited autonomy can strip employees of their sense of agency, fostering frustration and helplessness. Unclear expectations exacerbate the situation, casting ambiguity over job roles and responsibilities.

- Blending professional and personal life: Technology enables constant connection to work, blurring the boundaries between professional and personal life. The 24/7 accessibility disrupts the delicate balance between job demands and the need for personal time.

- Absence of recognition: When hard work and achievements go unnoticed, employees can feel undervalued and demoralized, creating the conditions for burnout.

- Toxic company culture: A culture characterized by gossiping, excessive negativity, dogmatism, relentless blaming, and cynicism leads to employee detachment, quiet quitting, and ultimately, resignation.

John recognized the signs of burnout and took proactive steps to address them. He sought professional support, took personal responsibility, and developed actionable strategies for a more sustainable and successful professional and personal life. His advice for others facing similar challenges includes:

- Prioritize and manage your workload: Create a to-do list, prioritize tasks, and set realistic deadlines. Learn to say no to additional tasks when your plate is already full.

- Communicate effectively: Talk to your manager about workload expectations, work processes, and any concerns you may have. Seek clarification and feedback whenever needed.

- Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life: Avoid checking work emails or messages outside work hours. Dedicate time to personal pursuits and relaxation.

- Take regular breaks: Step away from your desk throughout the day to stretch, walk, or clear your mind.

- Engage in stress-relieving activities: Exercise regularly, practice relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, and pursue hobbies that bring joy.

- Seek support: Talk to friends, family, a coach, or a therapist.Remember, you are not alone. Workplace stress and burnout are increasingly prevalent issues that affect many individuals. By identifying the root causes, recognizing the symptoms, and implementing effective strategies, you can create a calmer, more balanced, and more fulfilling work life.
Write your awesome label here.

Stella Rapti

Executive Leadership Coach | ICF ACC
Supporting hyper-achievers to find success and fulfillment in uninspiring and challenging work environments without adding more achievements | Inspirational Speaker | Talks about #leadership, #culture, #mentalfitness, #stressmanagement