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The quiet pandemic: workplace burnout.
If you ask any working woman if they’re feeling overwhelmed, odds are they’ll say yes. Corporate environments have long asked the impossible of their women employees – that they balance work and home life seamlessly, that they often shoulder the responsibilities of two roles, and that they take on a variety of unpaid culture focused roles like leading an employee resource group or mentoring new hires.
While the pandemic has been a catalyst for a lot of positive changes in the workplace, there’s a dark side to the merging of work and home life – burnout.
On top of the challenges I initially mentioned, women leaders are now adding the role of de facto therapist to their team as they all navigate virtual work for the first time, childcare, focusing and staying productive from their kitchen tables, and debating whether the potential recession will impact their employment status. Hiring challenges have further complicated matters, making deadlines impossible to meet – yet expectations aren’t shifting to reflect the situational upheaval.
It’s common for women employees to think that the solution lies within their own habits. They think that what they’re experiencing can be shifted through better time management or working more hours to get ahead. But personal actions can’t change a systemic problem.
How do I know if I’m experiencing stress or burnout?
We expect that stress will occasionally rear its head in any job. In some jobs it may be the norm. I would consider the distinction between stress and burnout to be largely determined by two things: frequency and responsiveness.
If you’re experiencing stress only occasionally, OR for brief windows of time, then you’re likely in a healthy work environment or role. If you’re experiencing high levels of stress consistently, leading to a change in energy and/or behavior, it’s more likely you’re on the path to burn out. A key question to help you determine the difference regards responsiveness: If I share what I’m struggling with, will there be an effort to create a solution?
If yes, your environment is healthy! Share your challenges with your manager, consider personal actions and habits that might alleviate your stress sources, and consider working with an expert outsider like a leadership coach to learn best practices.
If no – that means your workplace expects you to maintain this and higher levels of stress for the foreseeable future. You’re definitely on your path to burnout and unfortunately personal action cannot fix a non-responsive workplace.
Your best bet in this scenario is to start looking for new opportunities (internally with a different team lead) or externally. In order to do this effectively, I highly recommend taking a step back and job searching from a place of empowerment rather than exhaustion.
This is exactly why I created The Personal Power Code! This system is designed to address all five pillars of a powerful and authentic leadership style and it’s based on the experiences and gifts most common in women leaders. In other words – it’s designed to give women leaders everywhere a vocabulary to talk about their approach and why it’s absolutely vital to the success of any company. The Personal Power Code will help boost your confidence, create clarity on what roles you’d excel in, and help you show up powerfully in interviews with a strong sense of self.