4 Workplace Attitudes that Contribute to Employee Burnout

Employee burnout is often caused by a poor balance between work and personal life. Long working hours, overtime shifts, and lack of support are only a few of the determinants that lead employees to feel fatigued and unable to cope with work. Yet these practices are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the surge of burnout complaints that have popped up in most companies. In reality, these behaviours are driven by deep-rooted beliefs and attitudes to work that fuel employees’ failure to prioritise their personal lives. In this article, you can read about some common workplace fears and attitudes that make us work harder — but not necessarily smarter. 

‘ I work harder so I’m not seen as a slacker’ 

The fear of being seen as lazy, indifferent, and uncommitted makes employees take on more work than they can handle. Not working ‘hard enough’ is often criticised by leaders and managers, as companies want to hire people that give their best in order to exceed objectives. However, some employees can take this fear to the extreme and put a lot of pressure on themselves to demonstrate they’re working ‘hard enough’ to receive their boss’ praise. 

Unfortunately, employees will never feel they’re hard-working enough if they keep comparing themselves to the high standards of productivity that many organisations promote. This is why the key to burnout recovery is not just reducing workload —- it’s also questioning the standards and false values that are spread in many organisations. 

‘You should always be the hardest worker in the room’

To follow up on the statement above, this one works on the same principle, but it brings the pressure of toxic competition. This is not to imply that competing with others is wrong in itself — but it does become harmful when it occurs at the expense of one’s mental health. 

Employees strive to be ‘the hardest workers in the room’ as if hard work is the only endeavour that can bring results and innovation. We should not forget that people bring different qualities and resources when working in a team — for example, someone can be highly creative or altruistic, and striving to work just as hard as everyone else who has different qualities will only lead them to depletion of mental and physical energy. 

When employees go into the workplace with the mindset of exceeding everyone else’s workload, they will place themselves at risk of fighting the wrong battle. Productivity is not always about quantity — oftentimes, it is about the quality of work invested into a task. v

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‘I can’t take time off because I don’t want to let my team down’

Thinking about other people’s needs while ignoring our own is a recipe for burnout. There will always be someone around us who needs our help. Yet, we can’t be everything to everyone. Luckily, we don’t even need to be. In medium and large companies, there will always be other employees who can pick up bits of the work we cannot do. In small companies, solutions can be found in the form of freelancers or agencies who can fill in while an employee is away. 

To avoid burnout, employees must realise that it’s more than crucial that they recognise their own needs for rest and accept that their workplace won’t collapse if they take a well-deserved break. 

I’m afraid I will lose projects if I go away’

Another fear that contributes to employee burnout is that one can lose the opportunities and projects they chased for a long time if they take a break. However, this mentality entails that promotions and effort acknowledgement is conditional upon the employee being always available in the workplace. This has direct consequences on employee mental health: it forces them to be always ‘on’, to allow work into their personal times, and to have no boundaries with their work. 

If an employee cannot take the time off they need to prevent burnout because of this reason, it might be useful for them to talk to their managers about the allocation of tasks in their department and ensure the opportunity is still going to be there when they come back. 

Choose the right thoughts for your mental health

In many cases, burnout happens when we don’t look after ourselves properly. Maybe we ignore signs of tiredness and vulnerability and push ourselves day in and day out. If you’re an employee or an organisation wanting to improve mental health at work, we got your back. At SupportRoom, we help teams of employees improve their well-being at work with therapy, self-care support, and many other wellness solutions. Do get in touch with us if you want to find out more. 

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