Workplace burnout: how to talk to your employer and get the right support

Ellen Lees
By Ellen Lees,
updated on Sep 9, 2022

Workplace burnout: how to talk to your employer and get the right support

Recognise the signs and get the support you need from employers

To others, it may look like you’re thriving, and that you’ve got everything under control. But, despite how it looks on the outside, you know something’s wrong. You’re constantly tired, you’re feeling overwhelmed. Every decision or conversation feels like it’s draining you of energy, and that nagging voice of self-doubt is growing ever louder.

If this sounds familiar, you might be experiencing, or at the very least approaching, burnout.

While burnout is no new issue, it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. And after the last few years, many of us are aware of what it means to be happy and healthy, and what our minds and bodies need in order to function at their best.

But even if you know something isn’t right, the hard part can be asking for help. So, how can you tell your employer that you’re struggling?

Understand what may be causing it

When it comes to burnout recovery, often, the first step is to understand the root cause. Identifying the potential causes can help you to know exactly what support you may need from your employer, and also, indicate if there’s anything that has been missing from your life. For example, have you been unusually busy in and out of work, so you’ve lost the time you previously had to actually rest? When was the last time you did something for yourself?

Identify the help you need

Once you have an idea of what may be causing it, the next step is to understand what help you need. There might not be a clear answer, but having an inkling of what will help you can make the conversation easier later on. Perhaps you feel like there’s simply too much on your plate and delegating some of the work could help ease that pressure?

Of course, if you’ve realised that you’re unhappy at your workplace, you may decide now is the time to move on. While scary, taking this leap could be the best thing you ever do.

Speak to someone you feel comfortable with

If you’re nervous about talking to your employer, can you talk to a friend first? Or is there a colleague you can confide in? Someone to be a listening ear while you try to understand what you need. Simply talking about how you feel can help you make sense of the situation when you can’t see the wood for the trees.

Read your company policies

Does your company offer any wellbeing support? According to Mental Health UK, just 23% of people knew what plans their employers had in place to help spot the signs of chronic stress and burnout. While this is on employers to improve communication, if you are struggling, it’s worth reading through company documents to understand exactly what is offered.

Book a time to chat

Knowing how you feel and what support you need will help make the conversation as easy as possible. Who you speak to will depend on the issue, but for general workload or job satisfaction issues, your manager is likely your first port of call. If you’re feeling mistreated, or if you’re not comfortable speaking with your manager, schedule a chat with HR.

The best advice I can give from my own experience is to be as honest and open as possible. There’s no shame in needing a little help, and showing this vulnerability doesn’t mean you’re incapable of doing your job. In fact, you should be really proud of yourself.

Look after yourself

It’s important to look after yourself outside of work, too. Try to set up healthy boundaries to protect your energy; such as finishing work on time, taking regular breaks throughout the day, saying no to additional tasks when you’re busy, and prioritising self-care.

When you’re in the midst of burnout, you may simply need to rest and let your body and mind recover. But, long-term, consider how you unwind. Are there any hobbies you can start, like cooking or reading? Exercise is also a great way to ease tension and boost mood – perhaps there’s something new you can try that you’ve never done before, or a group you can join! Whatever it is, put a boundary around the things that bring you joy.

If you’re looking for support in burnout recovery, visit the Lifecoach-Directory or speak to a qualified coach.

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