Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video The case for prevention (stats, why it matters, and stress vs. burnout), part of Avoiding Burnout.
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- To start, let's be clear about the difference between stress and burnout. Stress refers to a feeling of pressure due to challenges and constraints around you. Examples of stress include your boss' high expectations. That feeling you get before sitting down to take the exam you have to take to get into graduate school. Or maybe, the huge size of the mortgage on your home. Some of these issues we can control to a certain degree. Some, we can't. All of the place pressure on us we typically refer to as stress.
Mild stress is a normal part of life. It can result in being irritable, losing a little sleep, or feeling anxious. At extreme levels, however, stress can lead to serious mental, physical, and emotional problems. That's burnout. Whereas stress is a mild burden we all have to carry, burnout is defined by feeling debilitated, detached, very unmotivated, and unable to continue caring or coping. Burnout is preventable, but far too often we don't see it coming because we're too busy working to step back and think about it.
And a big part of the challenge is the sheer number of hours that we spend at work everyday. For example, let's consider the U.S. According to research from the Gallup Organization, U.S. workers no longer enjoy a 40 hour work week. In fact, the average is 47 hours. Surprisingly, only 8% worked fewer than 40 hours. And, unbelievably, 39% work more than 50 hours each week. For you salaried professionals out there, the findings are even more difficult.
You face an average of 49 hours per week. With fully 50% working 50 hours or more. Internationally, this makes U.S. workers among the hardest working in the industrialized world. With those numbers, it's not hard to imagine why burnout is a real concern. And it should be since there's a lot at stake. There are several well known and very serious outcomes associated with burnout. For example, at work, you might see serious disengagement and substantial drops in productivity.
But at higher levels, if unaddressed, it gets much worse. And workers can start to feel isolated and without hope. Eventually leading to depression, anxiety, or mood disorders. For individuals, burnout can make it tougher to excel in terms of promotions and raises. That's ironic since those are the very things you were chasing that unintentionally created a sense of burnout. Now, for companies, the picture can be very serious. You managers watching this should be aware that burnout not only strains relationships, but also increases voluntary turnover as employees search for more acceptable work environments.
Thus, the practical cost of burnout is huge. In this course, I want you to realize that an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. While the risks associated with burnout are very real, it's also true that, with a little focus and attention, it's entirely preventable.
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