Keeping the Flame Alive
How to fight job burnout
by Colleen Malloy
If a root canal sounds more appealing to you than a day on the job you may be suffering from burnout. Right now you may be thinking, I love my job, this could never happen to me. But the truth of the matter is that the most dedicated people are often most prone to suffer from job burnout.
After all, you need to have a fire in order for it to burn out. According to a recent study, job burnout is a psychological syndrome which occurs in response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. In other words, your nagging boss, that obnoxious coworker, a lack of materials, and unrealistic deadlines could all be driving you away from the job you love and into psychological turmoil.
This article will take an in-depth look at the causes of job burnout and will help you beat burnout before it beats you.
Job burnout is related to both anxiety and depression. The good news is that, in contrast to these related syndromes which pervade every aspect of a person’s life, burnout is experienced only in a person’s working life. The bad news is that job burnout can lead to anxiety, depression, and a drop in self-esteem.
It is also important to note that job burnout is more of a social phenomenon than an individual one. Conditions in the workplace can lead to burnout and burnout can be contagious. Negative feelings tend to spread through a workplace like wild fire.
Social support is key to a productive employee, if coworkers and more importantly management are not supportive of your work you are more likely to experience burnout.
Many other factors can contribute to jobburnout. These factors lead to the three dimensions of job burnout: exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. Each dimension or a combination of the three can leave you feeling burned out.
Mike Grube, A&P, IA, reflects on his first experience in the hangar: "I was the new guy, little experience, in the middle of problems between maintenance and management trying to do everything everyone demanded and getting little done, which was stressing me out."
Think about your situation at work. Are the demands management places on you realistic? Are you always fighting a losing battle with the clock? How about materials, do you have what you need to effectively complete your job? Are you feeling stressed out?
Lack of time, support, and resources can leave you feeling overloaded and overworked. Exhaustion, the first dimension of job burnout is linked to stress. When you become exhausted you distance yourself from your work both mentally and emotionally. This distance can lead to feelings of indifference and inefficiency.
These days everybody’s a cynic, are you? As I mentioned eariler, burnout can be more contagious than chicken pox in a kindergarten classroom.
It may be difficult to fight feelings of cynicism in an environment where management isn’t necessarily practicing what they preach. "Our management continually stresses in writing and verbally: compliance with published guidelines. Yet when push comes to shove the only thing that counts is rolling the aircraft out," responded an A&P to a recent survey.
It is difficult to process these contrasting messages. You may find yourself debating: should I do my job and comply with written guidelines, possibly putting my job in jeopardy, or should I compromise my ethics to meet a deadline?
Cynicism is bred when we are forced to call our employer’s ethics into question. After a while many people let their ethics fall to the wayside and adopt an indifferent attitude comprimsing the quality of their work in order to appease management demands.
You are working as hard as you can, as fast as you can and you still aren’t meeting demands. Working under this constant time crunch can lead to feelings of inefficacy.
You may find that you blame yourself when you cannot meet unrealistic deadlines. This can cause you to call your skills into question.
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