Worker 411: Are You Underappreciated and Burned Out?
3/1/2013 11:03:00 AM
So today is National Employee Appreciation Day. And while it's a blessing to be employed, it's even sweeter when you feel your work is well perceived and appreciated in your company. 39 percent of workers polled wanted to quit because they did not feel appreciated at work, and more than half were not satisfied with the level of appreciation they received, according to a 2011 study by Globoforce Motivation Worldwide. Workers appreciate a compliment and take ownership of their work when they feel recognized. Recognition reinforces accomplishments and engages the employee to work harder. But the thing about working harder, you have to do it smarter to avoid burnout.
There is actually a link between burnout and worker appreciation. Counselor Candace Plattor says contributing factors that can lead to burnout may include work overload but also lack of appreciation and recognition. So between that and a bigger workload, how do we complete our "to do" lists and avoid burnout?
According to a recent article in The New York Times the key to getting things done—without burning out—is to work fewer, more productive hours. Things like not roaming through every e-mail, avoiding long unnecessary meetings, halting perfectionism, having a time to tune everything out, working on the "main" thing instead of everything, and taking breaks are helpful. But when you feel stuck, you become stagnant. Burnout leads to lifelessness. Consider these five warning signs of burnout from CareerBuilder.com:
Sign No. 1: Your co-workers are walking on eggshells around you.
If you find yourself becoming cranky and irritable with co-workers you used to get along with, it may be more than just typical interpersonal dynamics.
Sign No. 2: You come in late and want to leave earlier.
You used to wake up in the morning excited for another day, but now every day you dread heading into the office. Once lunch passes you start watching the clock, counting the minutes to the end of the day.
Sign No. 3: Apathy has replaced enthusiasm.
You feel no motivation, no sense of accomplishment and have no desire to be challenged. Those who have burnout lose their motivation to perform, as well as their feelings of pride for a job well done.
Sign No. 4: You've lost camaraderie with co-workers.
You're no longer interested in the company network. You used to go to lunch, go out for drinks and participate in other company functions but now have no desire in socializing in or out of the office.
Sign No. 5: You're feeling physically sick.
You always feel exhausted, have headaches, feel tension in all of your muscles and are having trouble sleeping. These physical signs are common indicators of job stress, and demonstrate that this can turn into a physical problem.
So like me do you need more practical ways to handle - or better yet avoid - burnout? From Real Simple, check out "8 Ways to Avoid Burnout":
1. Readjust Your Own Expectations
If you were expecting that your B.A. in English was going to turn into a staff writer position at The New York Times the day after graduation, then it's time to readjust. Everyone has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is generally at the bottom of the pack. Keep your head held high, and know that proving your competency at even the most menial tasks while maintaining a positive and professional attitude will help keep your career moving in the direction you want.
2. Learn How to ‘Manage Up’
A dysfunctional office dynamic is one of the leading causes of burnout, and issues with a superior are the most stressful. Learning how to “manage up” will help you deal with a boss who is mean, hypercritical, or insecure as well as help you figure out the most effective way to reach her expectations.
3. Realize It’s Okay to Say No
Employees who try to be everything to everyone and who are always working to their most-efficient max are extremely at-risk for burnout. Additionally, the worst thing you can do for your career is to over promise and then under-deliver, says expert and Great on the Job author Jodi Glickman. However, there’s a right and a wrong way to say no.
4. Quit Comparing Yourself
We all have that one Facebook friend who seems to have three months of vacation time, the money to spend those months traipsing across Europe, and the model fiancé she’s traipsing with. Forget her. While healthy comparisons can help you determine exactly what your goals are, “comparisonitis” will ruin your finances and your happiness as you endlessly try to keep up with or one-up your friends or family members.
5. Make Sure You Take Your Vacation Days
Americans will give up roughly 226 million vacation days this year. Don’t be one of them. One report found that 48% of workers felt happier and more positive about their workplaces after taking a vacation. Since feeling cynical about your office is one of the key causes of burnout, taking a vacation is an easy (and fun…and potentially margarita-filled) way to keep yourself going.
6. Develop Your Interests and Hobbies Outside of the Office
Is your self-worth and identity solely based on your work? If so, you’re highly at-risk for burnout. Devoting time to your interests and hobbies outside of the office will make you a happier and more well-rounded individual. If you can’t remember the last time you indulged in a hobby, think back to what you enjoyed as a child or teen. Consider joining a sports team, picking up a foreign language or volunteering.
7. Take Breaks
Take some time to recharge during the day. Pause your work to help you maintain good eyesight, or take a walk to help you stay in shape, even when you don’t have time to hit the gym. Alternatively, ask a co-worker out to coffee. Establishing positive relationships at the office will make you happier and help you live longer. (Seriously, science says so.)
8. Take Time to Evaluate Your Career Path
If you’ve been chugging along on the same path for a long time and are feeling signs of burnout, take the time to consider your career. Have your values changed since you first started in your profession? Or is it that the values of your particular company or employer have changed? Are you not being sufficiently challenged—or are you overburdened? Ask yourself the tough questions to help you figure out the next step that’s right for you and your long-term goals.
While you may not feel appreciated, determine if you are also burned out. This may mean seriously assessing your current path to find the next steps. There's nothing wrong with making a change for mental and emotional peace. You can't control if people appreciate your work but you don't have to let it burn you out.
Think about it on your weekend off.