During Lisa’s first two years at work she was excited to come to work, found her work engaging and enjoyed the staff around her. When she started her third year, she noticed a change in her enthusiasm and motivation. She felt less excitement and energy for her job, had less patience with her clients and started dreading coming to work.
When I began to work with Lisa, we started to explore this dramatic shift in her work life. Although she admitted to some stressors in her personal life, she was certain that the burnout was due to several issues at work. Her clients were starting to have significant issues and they were coming to her more frequently asking her to remedy the situation. At the same time, she noticed that her manager was less and less available, but there was no communication surrounding this change.
Lisa said that she communicated the challenges with her clients to her manager and that he never addressed these issues with her, or gave her any direction. Lisa stated, “I feel buried under the rubble with no way of getting out.”
We decided to come up with a strategy for dealing with the issues regarding her clients. Lisa agreed to write a brief memo to her boss surrounding her concerns. I reviewed the memo to ensure that it was specific data and not simply a rap sheet of complaints.
We also reviewed other issues that Lisa has control of that will help her manage the changes at work. She admits that she is always checking email and feels that this is a distraction.
We decided that she will limit herself to checking email 3 times a day at specific times. We also discussed how to set better limits with her clients and management so that she can better focus on the task at hand. If someone comes to her and expects her to “drop everything” to deal with their request, we came up with the phrases that she could use to set limits. She also expressed the desire to go for a walk or take a lunch break sometimes, in order to change up her work day.
Lisa agreed to try these strategies for 3 months before she decides if she is going to consider making a job or career change.
Ultimately, she wants to be able to experience the same enthusiasm that she once had for her job.
Burnout in the workplace is a major issue. However, it’s also something that people can effectively address with the right tools and strategies.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.