When we think of burnout in the workplace, we tend to imagine a devastating event that happens on one day. But the truth is, burnout creeps up on us and for leaders especially, it’s important to know what it looks like. And most importantly, how they can help their employees. So that the person experiencing the symptoms can prevent breakdown.
When I was burning out, I couldn’t see that something was wrong. It felt like something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it. That may have been because of the lack of information and awareness of it when it happened to me but even so, I fell hard and I didn’t know what to do.
Typically, the symptoms of someone who is burning out don’t appear devastating to begin with. They are still performing at high levels at work. Working late, they give their everything to tasks, they are passionate, they never say no. All in all, they look as though they are functioning just fine.
And then, they might start getting short with you/colleagues, they avoid confrontation, they start coming in late, they work through their breaks, they start having dysfunctional relationships at work, they are tired all the time, they let themselves go. These symptoms are just some of the ways that burnout manifests and it’s important for leadership teams to know what the signs are to try and help the situation.
An article by Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. in Psychology Today sights the following:
One of the most effective and important things a leader can do is to show compassion. If any or all of these symptoms seem to be occurring with anyone in their team, you need to reach out to that person, (off-site) and connect with them on a human basis. Let them know, they can talk to you, assure them that their job is not at risk, assure them that whatever they need (within reason) you can and will help them with.
When someone is experiencing burnout in the workplace, it often leads to depressive symptoms and you never know where the person is with their mental health often, until it’s too late.
To help with this, understand that the person burning out feels unsupported, they feel alone. No matter how social or outgoing that person is, if they are throwing all of their efforts and time into work, something is fundamentally going wrong in their lives.
As they spend so much of their time at work, it does fall onto those that are responsible for them in work to show their support. You could literally save a life.
Puja McClymont is a certified Life Coach supporting ambitious women in senior-level roles, entrepreneurs and high profile individuals to be empowered by who they are and what they want from love, life & work.