Burnout is a state of mind that comes from chronic, unresolved workplace stress that negatively affects one’s mental and physical health. Unsurprisingly, the feeling of burnout is common for those working at startups and especially for employees still working from home due to the pandemic. More than ever, employees are working through lunch along with putting extra hours in at night, which explains why burnout is becoming increasingly common. At Mavrck, we recognize burnout is not solely created on one’s workload, and it can be managed by normalizing it throughout the organization, developing boundaries and having tradeoff conversations.
Mavrck wants to empower our team members to implement change where it is needed to find balance, the opposite of burnout, at work and care for our mental health. Below you will find common burnout symptoms and simple tips on how to avoid it.
How to Recognize Burnout Symptoms
Burnout can affect anyone at any point, and oftentimes if you are feeling burned out, you are not the only one. To combat this, Mavrck’s People Experience (PX) team has compiled a list to help recognize the symptoms related to WFH burnout, isolation and anxiety:
- You’re constantly tired
- You no longer enjoy your work
- Your job performance suffers
- Your physical health suffers (headaches, irregular breathing patterns, etc.)
- Your relationships are strained
- You feel socially zapped
- You disable video for team calls
- You are perpetually concerned with whether you are doing enough
- You worry that your contributions are too few or too insignificant to have a healthy work-life balance
- You feel unable to choose family first
In another Mavrck blog post, we discussed the benefits of freedom and flexibility within the workplace. Working remotely has had many benefits for Mavrck employees, and fortunately we had the systems and tools in place to smoothly transition when the world shut down in March 2020. However, without social engagement and the structure of a traditional office job, it has become easy to overwork, which in turn, increases the risk of burnout. One way to combat burnout is to acknowledge signs of it developing and to prevent it from occurring before it sets in. Here are some tips on how it can be avoided.
- Time Management: Having structure and routine is essential for a healthy work-life balance. Working remotely often means you’ll be on a different schedule from your colleagues, possibly even in different time zones. This is why it’s important to communicate with your team about your schedule and to set clear boundaries between working hours and personal hours. For example, one of our team members blocks her calendar each morning so she can prioritize her morning workout. Similarly, each afternoon I block 45 minutes so I can enjoy lunch (away from my computer) and then take my dog out for a walk.
- Take Breaks: When planning out your schedule, don’t forget to factor in #metime. This could mean making time to rest, eat, or scheduling a random coffee break. The important thing is to clear your mind and relax. It may seem counterintuitive, but stepping away from work can actually increase focus and productivity. It is equally important to take long breaks too, whether it’s an occasional three-day weekend or a lengthy vacation. Taking time for yourself can do wonders when it comes to preventing burnout.
- Make Time for Human Interactions: Working remotely can be a lonely lifestyle. This isolation contributes to burnout because you miss out on important social interactions. It also makes it harder to “switch off” and you risk overworking yourself. At Mavrck, we use an app on Slack called ‘Donut’ which randomly pairs colleagues for non-work related catch up chats throughout the week. Making the most of our available systems allows us to keep in touch with each other!
- Look After Your Physical Health: Taking care of your body is one of the best ways to avoid burnout. When working remotely, it can be tempting to indulge in excess amounts of coffee, energy drinks, and junk food to help keep you going. These substances can aggravate symptoms of burnout and can actually cause it to happen faster. It’s also important to get enough exercise and sleep to keep your body and mind healthy. Make this a part of your daily schedule, even if it’s just doing some stretches or taking a walk during your lunch break. At Mavrck, we’ve encouraged this through a fun and collaborative initiative called May Miles; a company-wide competition to see who could walk the most steps during the month of May.
- Look After Your Mental Health: What separates burnout from exhaustion is that burnout is as much of a mental burden as a physical one. It doesn’t just affect your energy levels; it affects your concentration, motivation and happiness. This is why it’s especially important to take care of your mental health. Social interaction, taking breaks and looking after your body are all great ways to look after your mental health.
The opposite of burnout is balance. While Mavrck boasts curiosity and hustle as drivers to support high-growth, we are not expecting the company’s growth to result in employee burnout. Burnout is not solely a result of one’s workload and it can be managed by normalizing it throughout the organization, developing boundaries and having tradeoff conversations. Mavrck wants to empower our team members to implement change where it is needed to find balance at work and care for our mental health.
The key to avoiding burnout is to care for yourself and to strive for work and life existing in harmony and not at odds. To make sure this is top of mind for all employees at Mavrck, and particularly managers, we have added a question regarding managing balance into our bi-annual Performance and Development Review process.
Additionally, we send out a Weekly Compass Survey to get a pulse on how team members are feeling about the upcoming week and how our People Experience team can support them.
If you have successfully implemented new policies and benefits for your employees to help avoid burnout, or are looking to do so, our People Experience team would love to connect and share ideas. Reach out to us at [email protected] so we can chat!