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Burnout at work: The 5 most common warning signs

0 3 years ago

Ruth Pearce spent months in a windowless room, working 60 to 80 hours a week with late night and early-morning meetings to finish a global financial project with too few resources. Over the course of three years, the North Carolina project manager seldom ventured outside, stopped exercising, ate on the run, and at night was left with such little energy that she’d drink to relieve stress and watch TV. When a colleague hung a picture of a beautiful beach on the office wall and her husband begged her to quit, she knew she had officially hit burnout. “I had no energy,” she said. “It was killing me.”

Five years later, Pearce counsels other people facing chronic work stress as a professional coach at Project Motivator, and consistently tells people to listen to themselves before crashing and burning. “I didn’t see the early signs of burnout until the words ‘project manager’ turned my stomach. It took six months before I could do any kind of work again,” she said. “I should have seen the signs and spoken up earlier.”

If you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall at work, you’re not alone. The pandemic has ushered in a whole new level of exhaustion among today’s workers. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 70% of workers who transitioned to remote work said they worked weekends last year—with 45% working more during the week than they did before, according to a 2020 survey of 2,800 workers by Los Angeles-based staffing firm Robert Half. More parents juggle childcare responsibilities, too. In response, millions of people have quit their jobs, in what’s been dubbed the Great Resignation. That has contributed to a labor shortage of 11 million jobs, which has left the workers who remain juggling even more work, especially in industries like hospitality and retail. Burnout is on the rise: More than half of workers say they’re experiencing burnout, up from 43% last year, and 80% of them say the pandemic has taken a toll, according to a 2021 survey by job site Indeed.


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