Workers and leadership alike have long noted the presence burnout. Nearly half, 48% of employees and 53% of managers report that they're burned out at work, according to Microsoft's 2022 Work Trend Index.
But while the term has become widely synonymous with stress and fatigue, there is, in fact, more than one type of burnout workers can experience as a result of their jobs, say experts.
"The thing that I encourage my coaching clients to think about is whether they are tired or whether they are tired of the thing," Phoebe Gavin, career coach and executive director of talent and development at Vox.com, told CNBC Make It at Fast Company's Innovation Festival.
Here's how to identify which type of burnout you might be experiencing, and how to alleviate it.
One type of burnout can occur when you're tired of doing your job, specifically.
"That is actually disengagement," says Gavin. It happens when you feel uninterested in doing your job because you've had enough of those tasks and you feel ready to move on to the next role.
The other type of burnout is a chronic fatigue in life at large, or depletion of energy.
"If you're actually burned out where you are experiencing physical, mental symptoms, or if you're experiencing problems in your personal life and your relationships, in your relationship with yourself," says Gavin, "then that requires a much more intense intervention to get you to a point where you're more balanced and replenished again."
When it comes to your job, this comes as a result of putting in more energy than you actually have to give. Maybe you've been working too many hours, for example, or have encountered friction with coworkers or leadership.
To figure out which type of burnout you're experiencing and what in your job is causing it, Gavin recommends asking yourself four questions ― and do it on paper, she says, not in your head. This forces you to organize your thoughts and gives you a written record to remember, reflect on and tweak:
- Why did you take this job in the first place?
- What was happening when you've felt excited about your job or career?
- What was happening when you haven't felt excited or you've felt depleted or frustrated by your job?
- One year from now, when you look back, what is going to make you feel excited and proud? What is going to make you feel disappointed?
The answers to these questions can also help you identify what could make your situation better.
"Our job descriptions are not always truthful," says Ludmila Praslova, professor of psychology at Vanguard University of Southern California. "So we take a job and it ends up being something different. So we could be burned out because we ended up with something that we didn't sign up for."
Once you've zeroed in on the source of your burnout, "The first thing you need to do is advocate for yourself with your direct supervisor," says Gavin. "Have a conversation with that individual to let them know what you're currently experiencing."
The answers you've outlined can help you both explain the pain points in your job and what they're causing you to feel and outline the tasks you'd be more interested in doing or the way of working that could stop the burnout. They can help you lay out actionable steps to improve your conditions.
Ultimately, your boss likely wants to help you find parameters within your job that work for you.
"If that point is mutually beneficial for you and for the company or the team or whoever, then that boss is going to be very willing to do that work to help you be excited about your role," says Gavin. They want to help build parameters that work for you because when they do and "when you're excited about your role, that is when you have the best output."