“You should take care of yourself more!”
“Stressed? I guess you’re not doing enough to prioritize your mental health. You should do that!”
“Burnout isn’t a thing”
While some are lucky enough to have never been told things like mentioned above, the others have heard it too many times. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) started to recognize “burnout” as an occupational phenomenon, the word has been passed around between many workers and companies.1
While the term “burnout” was attributed to “helping” professionals working in high stress environments, it is now more commonly used among many, ranging from celebrities to 9 to 5 employees.2 Despite its prevalence, it is difficult to have a set of symptoms to diagnose someone with burnout. WHO describes burnout as “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”1, while The Centre for Addition and Mental Health (CAMH) defines it as, “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Burnout in the course of employment can make one feel emotionally drained and unable to function in the context of work and other aspects of life.”3 When everyone experiences stress differently, it is hard to have a set definition and identify specific symptoms that describe the phenomenon while encompassing its essence. Typical symptoms include feeling drained, exhausted, hopeless, and increased mental distance from the job.3,4 The pandemic did not make this situation any better – in 2019 fall, a group of researchers found that 62% of people were more frequently experiencing burnout.5 Some companies try to help their employees, but sadly, other companies do not and try to hide it. And we cannot forget, money comes in the picture.
One common misconception about work burnout is that it is always about the people and is surmountable by doing to yoda, meditating, and establishing a good mindset. However, applying these bandaid solutions without any change in the core problem may aggravate the situation.6 A survey by Gallup found that the top 5 reasons for burnout are7:
1) unfair treatment are work
2) unmanageable workload
3) Lack of role clarity
4) Lack of communication an support from manager
5) Unreasonable time pressure
This shows that it is not on the individual, but rather the culture and the environment of the workplace that cultivates the atmosphere that could lead to burnout of the employees. Some employees try to solve this issue by resigning from the company. After an unprecedented time like the pandemic, it would not be surprising to see a group of workers leaving their job due to countless changes that lead to stress, uncertainty, and even anxiety. The Anderson Clayton Professor of Business Administration, Anthony Klonz, mentions how we should all except to see a “great resignation” by the workers after this year.9
Burnout culture not only affects one’s mental health but also their financial health as well. Everyone has a different relationship with money; however, it is important for all of us to establish one that is healthy and maintainable. For some, the motivation for work might stem from the monetary gain that they receive while for others, money might not cross their mind. However, when their job has taken a toll on their mental health, it can jeopardize their relationship with money by extracting all the energy needed to deal with money towards work.8 Whether it be not having enough energy to check their bank account or mindlessly shopping as a form of “recharge” and “de-stress”, it will hurt the bank account and create a vicious cycle of worsening mental and financial health.8
As mentioned above, workplace burnout should not be dealt with on a solely individual basis. But rather, seek for the root of the problem in order to solve the issue from the bottom. In the meantime, there are certain techniques that can be implemented to mitigate the financial burden through burnout.
- Give yourself a budget that is not too strict
- Be open about your financial concerns with a professional
- Make a plan for installing safety nets in order to spend money intentionally
Burnout is real. Burnout is not entirely on you.
- World Health Organization. (2019, May 28). Burn-out an “Occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Depression: What is burnout? [Updated 2020 Jun 18]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279286/
- Career Burnout. CAMH. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/career-burnout.
- Fraga, J. (2019, June 5). Why the who’s change in definition of burnout is so important. Healthline. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/burnout-definition-world-health-organization.
- Moss, J. (2021, March 31). Beyond burned out. American Association for Physician Leadership. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.physicianleaders.org/news/beyond-burned-out.
- Moss, J. (2021, August 27). Burnout is about your workplace, not your people. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2019/12/burnout-is-about-your-workplace-not-your-people.
- Agrawal, S., & Wigert, B. (2021, November 22). Employee burnout, part 1: The 5 main causes. Gallup.com. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/237059/employee-burnout-part-main-causes.aspx.
- Ellevest Team. (n.d.). Burnout culture impacts your financial wellness, too. Ellevest. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.ellevest.com/magazine/personal-finance/burnout-budgeting-mental-health-awareness.
- Stahl, A. (2021, July 22). Post-pandemic Burnout Spurs the “great resignation” among workers. Forbes. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2021/07/22/post-pandemic-burnout-spurs-the-great-resignation-among-workers/?sh=6a7e34ec58b9.