Being engaged at work is often seen as a good thing. When we are fully committed and ”in the zone” we are at our most creative and most productive. But can this engagement become a bad thing?
A recent study by the Harvard Business Review at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is forcing employers and employees to rethink engagement and realise that while it is beneficial, it can lead to disaster if it is not part of a fair work-life balance.
The study examined the levels of engagement and burnout in over 1000 US workers. The results found that one in five employees reported high engagement and high burnout.
The people in this group were extremely passionate about their work but also reported high levels of stress and frustration. While they showed desirable behaviour like high skill acquisition they were also the group that reported the highest turnover intentions.
Why are these results important? Well, from a managerial point of view employers may be at risk of losing their most talented and hardworking staff due to burnout.
From an employee point of view, it is a stark wakeup call that reminds us all to strive for a better work-life balance and remember to take some time off (no matter how much we love our jobs).
Are you suffering from burnout?
Here are some things that you can do to help.
Take a break
It’s not always possible to down tools completely but if you think you’re suffering from burnout then you really should consider taking some time off for the sake of your health. Book some annual leave. Take at least two weeks off to do something that you love. If that’s lying by the beach in Spain or hiking in Nepal then do it. If you don’t have any annual leave left then ask to take an unpaid holiday.
Find your escape
When you’re dealing with burnout, you’re facing a lot of stress and emotion. It helps if you can find a way to channel these feelings. Exercise like running or martial arts is a great way to boost your natural serotonin levels while creative hobbies like painting can help you to unwind. Find what works for you and do it often.
If you’re concerned about burnout then you need to scale back. Say no to all new commitments for at least a month. That might mean turning down after work drinks or rejecting an exciting new side project. If you’re open and honest with people they will completely understand where you’re coming from. The last thing you need to do is add to your plate.
It’s definitely a last resort but if you are suffering from severe burnout then calling it quits might be the best way to recover. Use the time off to decide if this career is right for you. It might be time to make a change. Your health should be your top priority.