Professional Burnout; Why it happens and how to cope with it

Perpetual exhaustion, no motivation to complete tasks, the feeling of complete dissociation from work but with added stress; is what professional burnout looks like.

Burnouts do not happen overnight. They are in fact the result of persistent anxiety and stress caused by a plethora of reasons. As many of us do not pay much heed to these signs, the conditions tend to pile up leading to burnout eventually.

Professional burnouts are very common, especially in today’s age. These burnouts can make the person want to quit their job. In many cases, the ramifications of burnout are so severe that either the person quits their job or gets laid off by their employee.

Most of the time, people experiencing it are not even aware that it is burnout. So, what causes professional burnout?

In this article, we will help you identify the reasons that can lead to burnout by keeping the World Health Organization’s Areas of Worklife model into consideration.

Crushing workload

It is no surprise that whether a person will experience professional burnout in their life or not primarily depends on their workload. As long as the workload is within one’s capacity, managing work won’t be a grind. But once it goes beyond it, the work-life balance begins to dwindle. People who have a lot on their plate at work either take work home or leave it and take the stress of not being able to complete it on time home. Both situations are detrimental to a person’s well-being.

How to cope with it

This issue usually arises for people with people-pleasing tendencies. They find it really hard to say no and end up accumulating more work than they can handle. The crushing workload eventually gets to them. It can also be due to a lack of proper workflow to manage one’s tasks.

Identify where you are lagging first. There are numerous areas where the issue might rest e.g., task management, work planning, prioritizing tasks, chasing perfectionism, etc. Chasing perfectionism is not always healthy especially when you already have a lot on your plate.

Try to let go of it for the sake of your own good. If you are having trouble with task management and prioritizing, seek help from a colleague or a friend who is good at it. Most people who are good at managing work have developed their own system that helps them stay on track. Talking to them about it can be insightful.

Lack of control

Another leading cause of professional burnout is the perceived lack of control. This stems from the feeling of not having enough say in important decision-making at your job. You might not even have access to enough resources that you need to do well at your job.

At times, the communication gap between you and your manager can lead to making you feel this way as the latter might not even feel the need to include you in things you want to be a part of. Not being able to put your point forward can affect your well-being in the longer run. Moreover, not being able to dissociate from work even after working hours can also lead to a perceived lack of control.

How to cope with it

Firstly, you need to set your boundaries for work. If the employees or even your boss is contacting you after working hours you do not have to always engage. Moreover, in case the after-work work calls are more frequent, talk to them about it so that they know you won’t be available after working hours.

If it’s the communication gap that is keeping you from being included, address it. If you think talking directly to your boss or manager is not the right route, talk to a senior colleague and take their advice. In most cases, showing willingness to be included in something is seen in a good light.

Lack of reward/recognition

Getting rewarded for your work is the most effective form of appreciation. A number of case studies highlight the link between reward and occupational burnout. It is no surprise that it is when people feel that the reward does not equate to their efforts, it can be a contributing factor to burnout.


Employees who work hard on tasks and their efforts go underappreciated experience a lack of motivation to keep working hard. Managers at times, do not realize that it is part of their responsibility to keep their employees motivated. In a recent survey published by Forbes, it was found that 36% of employees leave their jobs because of a lack of recognition and reward.

How to cope with it

Managers have a vital role to play here. Sometimes, the managers are just not good at communicating. But then again, that is something that can be improved. Since reward/recognition is an important part of an employee’s wellbeing, training sessions to reiterate its significance for the managers, as well as employees, should be arranged.

Moreover, as for the person who is feeling underappreciated talking about it always helps. If you feel like your efforts are not recognized by either your team lead or team members or reporting manager for that matter, talk to them about it. There is a possibility that they might have not realized it. And even if it is not the case, at least they would know that you are getting affected by it and it could impact your performance.

 Summing up

Professional burnout can put even the best people down. It is not a sign of weakness; it is a natural phenomenon that is experienced by many working in challenging work environments. Identifying it and acknowledging it will help you process it and regain control. Do not put it off as it can lead to even bigger consequences on your mental health.

As an organization, it is your foremost responsibility to ensure the well-being of your employees. Everyone is fighting a battle. Appreciate your employees’ efforts, respect their skillset, and give constructive criticism. Identify when your employees are having a hard time managing their workload and show empathy. Being empathetic towards your employees goes a long way and contributes positively to the employee retention rate.

Do let us know what you think in the comment section below!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Micheal

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