Beating Job Burnout

Last Updated Jul 12, 2011 10:10 AM EDT

Most people with job burnout feel they have only two options: "man up" or quit--neither of which are ideal, especially in this economy. As a result, many people feel frustrated and helpless (just take a look at some comments to my post on different types of job burnout.)

But are there other options? I decided to look and discovered that both employees--and of course, managers--can take constructive steps to minimize burnout.

I spoke to Alan Allard, a career coach who previously was a therapist, and leadership expert Keith Ayers.
Of course, there are no magic bullets. Job burnout often has some very individual causes, which need to be examined, but Allard and Ayers both suggested some general techniques that employees can use to improve their outlook and reduce stress.
  • Make time for yourself at home. Do things you enjoy, whether that's reading, tennis or listening to music. People tend to let go of the very things that energize them when they're overworked or stressed.
  • If you're bored with work, challenge yourself to always do your best. Ask yourself, how can I do my job more creatively? How can I do my job better? Thinking about these things helps keep you stimulated and open for new challenges."Committing yourself to excellence in your work is good therapy - you go home from work every day feeling good about yourself," says Allard.
  • Create new opportunities for advancement. Update your skills. Read articles and books and/or take a class that will help improve your knowledge so that you're positioning yourself for a better opportunity.
  • Craft a new vision statement for your life. Sit down and start writing what your life would look like if you had an ideal life. Just write without editing. You might write down some wild ideas, but you will also see ideas that you can begin to act on or see things you love that you can bring back into your life.
Obviously, there are lots that managers can do to improve the environment. But given budget constraints, here are a couple of small, low-cost suggestions that could have a big pay off.
  • Understand people will have off days. When people give 110% every day, their productivity and performance suffers.
  • Recognize employees' efforts. Saying thank you can go a long way.
  • Encourage employees to find new opportunities to learn and grow. People want to develop new talents, skills and abilities and if they don't, they can become bored and complacent.
  • Put it in perspective. If you're asking them to do lots of drudgery, try to explain the big picture--why, who it's helping.
Do you have advice for companies of people suffering from job burnout? post below:
Related:
Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist who writes for the New York Times, national magazines and websites. Follow her on twitter. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Valerie Everett

  • Laurie Tarkan

    Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist who writes for The New York Times and many national magazines. She is a contributing editor at Fit Pregnancy magazine and the author of three books, Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility, Perfect Hormone Balance for Pregnancy and My Mother's Breast: Daughters Ace Their Mothers' Cancer.. You can follow her on Twitter at @LaurieTarkan.