3 creative ways to overcome corporate burnout

The same routine plays out every day at work and at home. Your weekends are packed, giving you no breathing room to reset from a stressful week. You constantly hit a wall and have to fight to keep up at work.

Translation: you’re feeling burned out.

Being aware that your job is taking a toll on you is the first step to healing from it.

What happens when we work too hard for too long

Data shows that the exhaustion we feel is not all in our heads.

A 2017 study by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace® revealed that 46% of HR executives think “employee burnout” is behind 20% to 50% of workers’ yearly turnover at their companies.

Company leaders seem to be taking notice – an international Deloitte survey found that more than a third of leaders placed “overwhelmed” workers among their highest five “priorities,” yet fewer than one in 10 thought they were managing it properly.

For some employees, the typical 40-hour work week is a thing of mystery: 2014 Gallup poll found that Americans with full-time jobs clock in 47 hours weekly on average.

But we have some answers about why our grueling schedules are making us feel so worn out.

Mayo Clinic provides insight on what causes job burnout. These include “lack of control,” “dysfunctional workplace dynamics,” “work-life imbalance,” “a mismatch in values,” and “lack of social support.”

Break things up by trying some of these practices — whether you’re an employee or a manager.

1. Go on a silent retreat

Sally Blount, Dean at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University writes about what she gains from silent retreats on LinkedIn.

She writes that she has gone at least once annually for the last 10 years. Sometimes she spends two to three days in silence, but she says that she prefers ones lasting one to two weeks.

“Letting go of connection becomes less difficult the more you do it and learn what’s coming next,” she writes. “It’s when you begin to hear new sounds and see new details in the animals, plants, sky and surrounding landscape, details you often miss in the rush of daily life. Even more importantly, you start to feel and think in new ways.”

Blount refers to this practice’s religious history, writing, “I started going on silent retreats as part of a spiritual practice inspired by the Jesuits,” but later adds that “the retreats are no longer just spiritual for me. They also nourish my work life in important ways.”

2. Encourage creativity outside of work

This could help employees take the edge off.

A 2015 Fast Company article on burnout mentions encouraging “side hustles,”  or “sideline projects” centered around what they enjoy or are good at.

“Not only do side projects improve individual creativity and satisfaction, they can also benefit the company,” Matt Straz writes.

He adds that Dropbox does this by featuring “hack week,” where workers can tackle projects on any topic, whether they are or aren’t connected to work, and that there’s the chance of them getting put in motion.

3. Work from home if and when possible

Everyone doesn’t have this option, but it could help combat exhaustion.

Ashton Adair, director of culture and first impressions at Mojo Media Labs, told SHRM that the organization offers an employee perk: “Work-from-Home Wednesdays.”

“Working remotely isn’t a new engagement strategy, but making it a constant for every worker from the CEO to the front line offers ‘hump day’ as a day of productivity and solidarity that allows everyone to take a break from the office bustle,” he said.

Getting out of the office in the middle of the work week could help you feel more in touch with things that matter to you outside your nine-to-five job.

Don’t let corporate burnout take total control of your life. Recognize your habits and move forward in a healthy way, little by little.