Our workplaces continue to be a significant source of stress in our lives. This has lead to ‘brownout,’ a new term for a type of workplace stress that is not as serious as burnout, but is much more prevalent. One of the main factors behind it is a very large amount of rather dull work that is neither challenging nor stimulating. People are just overloaded and under-engaged by more of the same.
Technology has played a role too. We have allowed work to eat into our home/personal lives because of smartphones. We never switch off and recharge even during evenings, weekends and holidays. Using mobile phones and tablets in bed has triggered a huge increase in sleep deprivation. We are particularly prone to taking work home and finishing our emails in bed.
Top Signs of Brownout
- Feeling of never really finishing tasks because there is always more to do
- No idea about what direction our career is taking and not making important decisions
- Contributing the minimum in meetings and having little interest in new suggestions
- Using any excuse not to show up at work due to disengagement, demotivation, discontentment and lethargy
- Working long hours, but without any real interest in the job since it is dull and lacks intellectual challenge/stimulation
- Checking emails after waking up and in bed before sleeping
- Being glued to our smartphone on holidays, weekends and even during social occasions
- Physical signs of suffering include eating junk food, not getting enough sleep, giving up exercising and being out of shape
- Losing our sense of humour and leaning towards passive aggressiveness, indifference and rudeness
- Coming home late and showing little interest in the spouse and children. Declining friendships. Outside interests are forgotten
Tips to Combat Burnout and get back on Track:
People who are healthier tend to be more engaged. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and an adequate amount of physical activity.
Practice some Electronic Discipline
Turning off devices an hour before sleep time will lead to a healthier next day. Do not check your email when on holiday or during weekends. If you must, do it once a day.
Meditation calms the mind, creates clarity and balances the mind, body and soul.
Disconnecting from the body helps when we get stressed or depressed. Yoga is about the integration of the mind, body and soul.
Consulting a professional who will listen and guide you through the process is a good way to sort out issues. You can get more clarity.
Be honest with your family, friends, colleagues and management at work. Trapped anxiety only makes things worse. Those who care about you will really help and support you.
Though fairly mild and usually reversible, brownout can cause serious problems in the long run as employees become more apathetic, detached, overwhelmed and unfocused. The good news is that it is possible for companies to turn a brownout employee around by becoming an active partner in their recovery. Workplace wellness programs that focus on mental and physical health, work and family through one-on-one coaching, active partnering and employee engagement can accomplish this.