According to data collected by the Gallup Organization in 2001, less than 30
percent of American workers are fully engaged at work, and 55 percent are
‘not engaged,’ while another 19 percent are ‘actively disengaged,’ meaning
not just that they are unhappy at work, but they are regularly sharing those
feelings with their colleagues. (These stats come from a great book on the
subject, The Power of Full Engagement.
These statistics suggest to me that at least 1 out of every 5 people at work
is in some advanced stage of burnout. Burn out is a physical, mental,
emotional and spiritual shut down and exhaustion usually as a result of
prolonged stress or frustration. It’s like trying to run a car with a dead
battery, with no water or oil in the engine, and no fuel in the tank. Let’s
look closer at the four inter-related facets of burnout.
In a state of burnout you are often physically exhausted and frequently
overwhelmed by work and life in general, which complicates matters because
it increases the chances of stress-related illnesses. Mentally, you may
experience confusion, a lack of clarity and often an overall negative
attitude. Emotionally, you may become depressed, frustrated, resigned,
fearful and angry, while spiritually you feel disconnected, empty, wondering
if this is all there is to life.
You can think of each of these four facets of burnout as a different colored
string, with the four strands wound together in a tangled gnarl. The
question is where do you start to unraffle the knot of professional
burnout. Tomorrow, we’ll look at some strategies for either avoiding or
recovering from burnout.