Job Burnout (Part 3) – How to prevent / deal with burnout when you have no choice

So the past week I have briefly touched on the topic, “job burnout”. I have given a true example of what job burnout is like and how it affects both job performance, and your physical and mental health.  (Please click those links to catch up).

Job burnout can be prevented but I am going to be honest and say that there are situations when we really have no choice mostly because you know finding a job isn’t easy so you have to stick this one out or because you need to put food on the table and a roof over your head; or you can’t afford to argue with the boss, raise concerns or fight for what you know is right and believe in for fear of getting the sack or getting into the boss’s bad books.

Yes there are situations like this especially in most Nigerian SMEs (I consult for a few of them and yes I have seen so much that when I do open my mouth to question it, I get the response – this is not UK). They really try to drain life out of you! They don’t care about giving you a break neither do they care about your wellbeing. Well if this rings a bell then please read on, this is for you!

Honestly, when I decided to write this burnout series, it was as a result of my experience since coming to Nigeria. Wait till I write about the perils and perks of being a corper! Topic for another day. Please watch this space.

Now let me get back to those who really need this. Those who have jobs, who have no control over any aspect of their work; who work so hard they feel they are highly underpaid and have no choice- they just get on with their work. They have become ineffective and created some sort of distance between themselves and certain or all aspects of their job. Yes there are those who don’t want to earn their pay.

They want a life of ease – breeze into work and breeze out. Life to them should be a bed of roses, no boss hanging over my head, no deadlines, no expectations, no responsibilities, just let me get on with my life and “don’t forget to pay me on time”. Well if you’re in this category, this isn’t for you. So if you’re experiencing job burnout and need a way out fast! I recommend job engagement.

So what is job engagement? Remember when you first started your job? Did you feel so much excitement, vigor and zeal? You were so involved in your work sometimes you even took it home with you? Did you ever dream about work and what to do with the project? Sometimes you found your answers in your dreams and woke up with so much excitement. But gradually those feelings began to change to that of meaningless and unpleasantness? All the vigor you once had changed to exhaustion; involvement changed to indifference and detachment; efficacy turned to ineffectiveness. Now you feel lost and desperate for a way out.

Think back to when you took that work home – well that is when your problems began. You should have left work at work and spent quality time with your friends and family instead (I will be writing on Work-Life balance soon). The truth is when we start a new job, especially one that we love; we tend to go overboard with it. Well do not despair there is hope.

That vigor, involvement and efficacy you once felt can be felt again. You just need a dose of job engagement. Job engagement is the direct opposite of job burnout and is characterized by these three factors – vigor, involvement and efficacy which deal primarily with one’s relationship with work.

Vigor: this refers to high levels of energy, to invest your whole into your job and have the willingness and persistence to face difficulties. You live for challenges and are happy when they are met and dealt with. Do you know that this gives you a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, value and the hunger/ willingness to keep succeeding? Can you try to imbibe this into your work?

Involvement: this refers to dedication to one’s work. You show lot of enthusiasm, eagerness to learn; you feel important, a sense of pride, joy and inspiration especially when praised for the project you just completed. Can you try to feel this again? Even when you get reprimanded can you accept this as constructive criticism and be eager to learn to do that task better and efficiently?

I know people who will frown all day or even cry when they have been reprimanded at work. This is not the way to go about this. You need to be open to correction and be willing to make changes that affect you and your job positively. Throw yourself into your job that you do it so pleasantly you fail to realise what the time is and marvel when the day is over. Do not go overboard. Do not take work home with you if you can (I know sometimes this can be impossible). Do your best and soon your efforts will shine forth in all that you do.

Efficacy: When you are this involved in your work, you become effective. Ask for feedback from your supervisor. If there are no learning opportunities available at your workplace go on Google and YouTube and learn on your own (training opportunities might be uncommon in your workplace but if you think deeply, you will see there are many avenues for you to learn something new or improve on what you already know and can do). Take courses and work on your professional development.

Explore the internet! You have no idea how much I have learnt on my own just by using Google all in the bid to know more. Read! For a wise man (Charles William Eliot) once said “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers”.

Watch out for my next post on dealing with job burnout when all seems well and good at work! Some people really do like to get stressed!