Burnout. You’ve heard the term before, but what does it really mean?
Burnout at work is defined as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. The WHO characterizes the symptoms as a sense of exhaustion or depletion, mental distance from or negativity or cynicism about work, and decreased effectiveness at work.
I know what you’re probably thinking… Okay, so what? Not everyone likes their job. People get bored all the time!
You’re right, but a large percentage of the workforce isn’t usually feeling the same thing all at once. The reality is that when half of the workforce is on the front line or a key worker and the other half is forced to work from home, attitudes towards work change.
It’s over a year into the pandemic and the burnout is real. So real that it has inspired research and surveys to be conducted on women and the workplace, specifically to see how this pandemic has affected our attitudes towards our jobs, lives, and future career paths.
To illustrate this, let’s look at a few key statistics from surveys done in the US and the UK.
In the UK, Stylist surveyed 1,000 of its readers in the country’s first Women and Work survey. Of the thousand surveyed, only 27% feel positive about job progression over the next 12 months. In addition, over 75% said their attitude toward work is different than a year ago. Now that doesn’t mean that all of those women are now anti-work, it just means that not all of their major life ambitions are work-related.
In the US, CNBC partnered with Survey Monkey to look at women’s concerns and attitudes towards work. They found that From 45% to 39%, many women are still concerned that flexibility comes at a professional cost. This means that even if women want to adjust their work schedules to avoid burnout, they feel they are risking future career advancement.
And both of these surveys showed over 50% of women report burnout.
At first, I was confused as to why women are at the center of this subject, but it makes sense. As the UK survey pointed out, the women who are battling burnout are those who grew up and started their professional careers in “the era of Girl Bosses and SHEOs” and felt the pressure of finding that illusive work-life balance.
Work-life balance, whether you believe achieving it is a myth or not, is something that women worry about more than men.
If you are suffering from burnout, the most common solutions to burnout are as follows
1. Change your workload — this means taking more days off, asking for flexibility, or shifting roles and responsibilities.
2. Change your attitude — this means looking at your situation and deciding if the silver lining is shiny enough to keep going, or if other priorities may be more important to you.
One female journalist worker said about battling burnout that “identifying and then addressing burnout requires some conscious thought and effort.” This leads me to the last solution that companies, like ours, are working on — talk to your boss! 29% of those surveyed by CNBC said that they talk to their managers about their career goals less often than once a year. And, 62% of women told Stylist that their ultimate work ambition is to be so happy and fulfilled in their job that they always look forward to Mondays, not to be their own boss or win awards
See? It’s not all on your shoulders. Management has a role here too. It is clear that during this pandemic, communication between coworkers and between subordinates and leadership needs to be more frequent and affective in helping those of us (still in it to win it) battle burnout and look forward to Mondays again.