Career Tips

Adding Value as an Employee: 8 Actionable Tips to Increase Your Value Today

How can you add value as an employee and secure your job? Here’s everything you need to know, including 8 tips you can use today.

Dealing With Burnout at Work: Signs, Symptoms, and 6 (Easy) Steps to Take Immediately

Burnout is a term we hear often, with 75% of employees experiencing it at some point. If you’re feeling exhausted, hopeless, and withdrawn, you may be burnt out, and this article will help. Dealing with burnout is possible.

Learn what burnout is and what you can do to regain control.

What is Burnout?

Dealing with burnout starts with understanding what it is, so let’s dive in.

Burnout is physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive, enduring stress. It’s defined by a loss of identity and reduced feelings of accomplishment. Burnout leaves you feeling resentful, hopeless, and without energy.

Unfortunately, although work can cause burnout, its effects will impact your personal life. It may affect your physical health and make you more vulnerable to colds and flu.

Burnout recently became an official medical diagnosis in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases. So yes, it’s a real phenomenon, despite what some people may tell you.

Pre-Burnout Signs & Burnout Symptoms

Let’s talk about two things: pre-burnout signs and burnout symptoms.

Pre-Burnout Signs

Perhaps you aren’t burnt out yet. To help you better understand whether you’re dealing with burnout or are on your way there, let’s talk about some factors that may lead to burnout:

  • Constant exhaustion
  • Working so hard your personal life becomes almost non-existent (no time for family, friends, self-care, sleep, etc.)
  • Lack of care toward your personal life (usually due to lack of time)
  • Feeling like nothing you do is appreciated or meaningful
  • Feeling like all days are bad days
  • Dreading Mondays and the start of the workday

Battling these feelings for an extended time with no end indicates that you’re on your way to being burnt out. We’ll discuss later in this article how to combat burnout, which will also apply to stopping yourself from becoming burnt out.

Related: 7 Tips For Quitting a Job Professionally and Maintaining Those Relationships

Burnout Symptoms

We all have stressful days where we feel exhausted or underappreciated. However, you may be burnt out if you feel this way all the time. 

Burnout is a slow process you may not be aware of, so paying attention to the following red flags is essential. Ignoring them can lead to a full-on breakdown, which can be harder to recover from. 

Here are some burnout symptoms

  • Constant exhaustion
  • Poor appetite
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Headaches or other physical pain
  • Frequent illnesses
  • Negative or cynical outlook at work
  • Feeling helpless or trapped
  • Self-doubt at work
  • Sense of career failure
  • Decreased satisfaction with work
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Using food, alcohol, or other substances to cope
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Procrastinating excessively
  • Skipping work

Do a lot of these apply to you? If so, you may be dealing with burnout. We’ll discuss what to do about it, but first, let’s clarify the difference between depression and burnout.

Burnout vs. Depression

Symptoms of burnout can look a lot like depression. Some major overlapping symptoms include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Physical pain
  • Substances to cope
  • Poor sleep or appetite changes
  • Isolation or withdrawal
  • Feelings of helplessness

The big difference between burnout and depression is two-fold: depression lasts longer (a few weeks or more) and severely affects your personal life.

If negative feelings haven’t gone away for a few weeks, you may be depressed. Similarly, if you’re feeling hopeless, withdrawn, aren’t enjoying activities you used to, or are experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms in your personal life, this may be depression.

Eating, showering, and picking up after yourself might seem impossible with depression but they shouldn’t with burnout. 

Lastly, if mental health days or vacations don’t improve your mood, you’re likely dealing with something more serious than burnout.

If you think you’re experiencing depression, speak to a mental health professional. BetterHelp and Online-Therapy.com are two places to start. You can also contact your insurance for resources.

For immediate help, especially if you’re dealing with suicidal thoughts, call 800-273-8255 (TALK)

You can also text “HOME” to 741741 to receive support for any crisis; a counselor will respond immediately.

6 Tips For Dealing With Burnout at Work

Dealing with burnout can seem overwhelming, but here are some simple tips to help you beat it.

  1. Prioritize Self-Care

One primary driver of burnout is sidelining self-care. Excessive working hours lead to deprioritization of self-care, which contributes to burnout.

Self-care can be quick. Just 10-15 minutes each day can help your mood substantially. You can meditate, go through your skincare routine, do yoga, or participate in any activity that suits you.

Prioritize exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet every day.

  1. Ask for Help

Let the people in your life know you’re experiencing burnout. This includes your boss and coworkers, as well as family and friends.

Ask for help with tasks at work and home to alleviate some of the strain you’re feeling. There’s no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed asking for help when needed!

  1. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries at work and home can help combat burnout. 

When you’re done with work, stay offline. Similarly, set aside time and space if you need “you” time away from home responsibilities such as caregiving. You can make your own space in the house to relax, such as a spare bedroom or part of the backyard.

  1. Stay Social

Even if it feels exhausting, staying in touch with friends is critical for dealing with burnout. If you don’t feel you have the time, make it! You’ll be happy you did.

  1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness and meditation help reduce burnout, stress, and even depression symptoms. Reducing stress through mindfulness can lead to a better mood, better sleep, and increased quality of life.

Mindfulness looks like this:

  • Moving your body
  • Pausing and focusing on deep breathing
  • Noting your environment – sights, scents, sounds
  • Listening to music
  • Meditating
  • Doing yoga

Try some of these out and see if they help.

  1. Make a Plan

If you’re dealing with burnout, reflecting on your experiences and what may have caused it is a good idea. Doing so will help you better identify early warning signs in the future and handle the situation.

Ask yourself:

  • What causes me the most stress?
  • What are the signs of burnout for me?
  • What risk factors can I reduce to minimize the occurrence of burnout?
  • What can I do immediately if I think I’m getting burnt out?
  • Who can I turn to for help?
  • What aspects of self-care do I need to continue prioritizing? 

Sometimes, It’s The Job

Sometimes, no matter what steps you take when dealing with burnout, symptoms don’t improve because of where you work. Burnout can worsen if your boss doesn’t take your symptoms seriously and continues to push you.

Excessive burnout can lead to depression and is associated with poor physical health, including heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and sleep disorders. You can’t live in a constant state of burnout.

If it’s time for a change, Jennings Executive specializes in matching the best talent with companies that respect their boundaries. Let us help you find an organization where you can thrive and leave burnout behind. Learn more.
Related: What is an Executive Search Firm? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

The Secrets Behind Meaningful Work: 6 Tips to Find It

Over 80% of American college graduates want meaningful work, but fewer than 50% feel they’ve found it. This is a significant problem because meaningful work impacts your financial, physical, and social health.

Finding meaning at work means clearly understanding what it is (and is not) and why it’s so important. We’ll discuss all that and more in this article.

What Does Meaningful Work Mean?

Before we go any further, let’s define meaningful work. Meaningful work fuels your passions while contributing to a greater purpose. It means connecting with others and helping them in a way that excites you.

Meaningful work doesn’t mean you’ll be stress-free all of the time. Often, important work comes with stress, struggle, and effort, but because it can be linked to meaning, it’s worthwhile.

The exact way in which work is meaningful depends on the individual. We’ll discuss what factors make up meaningful work and how you can find it later in this article.

Importance of Meaningful Work And What It Looks Like

The more meaning you find at work, the more engaged you’ll be. This benefits employees and employers alike.

Meaningful work – in practical terms – can be built on the following:

  • Flexibility at work
  • Autonomy to set your own schedule and hold yourself accountable
  • Using information, tools, and processes to streamline work
  • Work that aligns with personal goals and fosters professional development
  • An understanding of expected outcomes and how success is measured
  • Using innovative technologies to enable better output

Ultimately, a company that supports meaningful work creates an environment that fosters collaborative, purpose-driven, and flexible work.

How to Find Meaningful Work

How can you, as an individual, find meaningful work? Here are 6 ways.

  1. Follow Your Passions

It’s challenging to find meaning if your work doesn’t excite you. While your job doesn’t have to be the most passionate part of your life, you want to feel enthusiasm towards the day-to-day. 

Your work passions may shift as you go through your career, so be open.

  1. Lead With Empathy

Meaningful work is largely defined by helping others; leading with empathy helps accomplish this. Focusing on problem-solving and relationship-building are the keys to finding meaning at your job.

  1. Add Value

If your work adds value to people’s lives and improves the world, whether in a large or small way, you’re far more likely to derive meaning from it.

While driving a business’s bottom line is critical, think about adding as much value as possible for your customers.

  1. Align Work With Personal Values

Finding meaningful work is much easier if your values match your company’s. Finding meaning doesn’t mean curing cancer or inventing the next big thing. It can simply be finding work that aligns with what you find important, whether that be environmentalism, social justice, or enhancing technology.

Importantly, meaningful work and money can coexist. Work is not meant to be done for free, so seek fair compensation and don’t feel burdened by it.

  1. Seek Growth Opportunities

Meaningful work is easier to find when your work allows you to grow. You can’t always do work that saves lives or changes society in its entirety, but you can always look to grow and become a better version of yourself.

Being the best version of yourself allows you to maximize your contributions at work, impacting your customers’ lives.

  1. Focus on Small Actions

We tend to find meaning in significant milestones. In reality, you’ll spend most of your professional life taking small steps that add up. 

Meaningful work is built out of these small actions, so don’t forget to celebrate and recognize their importance.

Meaningful Work Myths

To sharpen your understanding of meaningful work, let’s examine some myths about it.

Myth 1: Only Professions That “Help” Are Meaningful

Psychologist Blake Allan and his colleagues found that meaningful work occurs when you find your work to be important, valuable, or worthwhile. Thus, its exact definition is largely driven by your set of beliefs.

Although traditional helping professions – such as counselors, caretakers, or firefighters – may make it easier to find the “why,” all occupations have it. Step back and think about the positive impact you have.

Myth 2: Meaningful Work Isn’t Strictly Necessary

Many of us may think that finding meaningful work is a “nice-to-have,” but, in reality, most of us strongly depend on it. 

A Gallup study found that financial stability, community, strong relationships, and physical health depend on finding meaning at work. While we may consider these aspects separate from meaning, research suggests the opposite.

Myth 3: Meaningful Work Is Only Work That Pays Well

There’s far more to meaning than bringing home a paycheck. People cashing in large paychecks but who aren’t serving others or are compromising their personal values may struggle to find meaning at work.

You can find meaningful work if you’re contributing to something larger than yourself, independent of the paycheck size.

Myth 4: Meaningful Work Doesn’t Pay Well

One strong misconception about meaningful work is that it can only come from nonprofit work, which can be notoriously low-paying. In reality, as we’ve discussed, all jobs can derive meaning depending on the individual, including high-paying ones. 

Myth 5: Finding Meaning Means A Career Change

If you don’t find your work meaningful, you may think a career overhaul is necessary. In reality, changing your thoughts, tasks, and relationships with others at work can impact the degree of meaning you derive.

If you’re struggling to find meaning at work, zoom out and identify what greater purpose you serve. You can also shift your day-to-day tasks to things that align with personal values and fuel professional growth. Lastly, consider building stronger relationships with coworkers and addressing any disagreements as they arise.

Meaningful Work Examples

We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it: any job can create meaning; it all depends on the individual.

Some ways people can derive meaning from various careers include:

  1. Garbage collector: keeping the earth free of litter
  2. Salesperson: connecting people with solutions that solve pain points
  3. Personal trainer: helping people improve their physical health
  4. Content creator: entertaining and informing the masses
  5. Product manager: identifying customer needs and filling them through product innovation

Company Culture and Meaningful Work

Sometimes, it’s tough to find meaning at work due to the company culture where you are. If your personal values don’t align with your company’s values, deriving meaning is challenging.

If you’ve done all you can do to find meaning where you are, it may be time to look elsewhere if those efforts failed. Jennings Executive has over two decades of combined experience matching employers with talent. We’ll find you the perfect company where you can find meaningful work. Learn more today!
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