Skip to main content

With UK Google searches for the ‘signs of burnout’ soaring by 300%, between September 2020 and now. With everyone returning to the office after covid, it’s now more important than ever to know if you are feeling burned out by the experience.

The World Health Organisation divides burnout into three categories, feeling exhausted, increased mental distance from one’s job, negativity or feeling cynical about your job, and a reduction of productivity in the workplace. So if you are feeling overwhelmed with daily tasks and noticing an increase in workplace conflict, then there is a significant chance that you may be experiencing burnout.

We spoke to Christine Macdonald, director of HR and management company The Hub Events, for her insights into how to communicate with your manager that you are feeling burned out. She listed the 5 most important things to do to tell your manager that you are struggling with burnout:

  1. Admit that you need help
  2. Talk to a colleague or a friend first
  3. Ask for help
  4. Don’t Complain, Explain
  5. Put yourself first

Admit that you need help

People can often find it difficult to admit that they need help. Burnout is a very real and serious phenomenon, nobody will think any less of you or think you are weak if it happens to you. One of the challenges brought upon by Covid is that noone really knows why they feel the way they do now. It’s been an extremely tough year for us all. So don’t be afraid to admit that you need help. With how much it has been talked about over the last year, burnout has become increasingly normalised.

Understanding the symptoms of burnout and detecting them in yourself is the first step in getting help. It is only when you’ve acknowledged this fact that you will be able to talk to your colleagues and your manager about having burnout. Concealing this fact from others is far more harmful in the long run, burnout will severely hamper your relationship with others and will damage your reputation at work. Spot the signs early and get help as soon as you can. There is no better time than now to improve your mental wellbeing.

Talk to a colleague or a friend first

During the pandemic, people have felt increasingly isolated from one another. So before you go to your manager, consider talking to a colleague first. After all, many people find talking to their boss intimidating, particularly when it is about something as personal as burnout. A colleague may provide that extra level of support that is needed when you are feeling burned out. 

Explaining all your responsibilities to a colleague may help put the amount of work you are doing in context. If your colleague agrees that you have far too much responsibility, then that will give you the additional boost of confidence needed to talk to your manager. Moreover, a colleague could open up about their experience with burnout and provide useful resources that can alleviate your stress.

At the very least, opening up to someone will be a boost to your mental wellbeing in itself and could get you ready for that important talk with your manager.

Ask for help

Asking for help might sound like the simplest solution in the world, but people do often find it difficult to confide in others when they are going through a tough time. However, 

asking your manager for help is imperative in ensuring that your physical and mental wellbeing doesn’t suffer.

If you are worried that your manager will think you are burned out because you are no longer passionate about the job, then don’t. A recent Deloitte survey showed that whilst  87 percent of professionals say they are passionate about their current job, 64 percent say they are frequently stressed. It’s this chronic stress that leads to burnout and is why you should ask for help.

Be confident in the fact that you are not blaming anyone for being burned out and that you are trying to do what’s best for yourself and your team. Working alongside someone who is burned out can put a serious strain on relationships and productivity.

Don’t Complain, Explain

Burnout is a mental phenomenon and it will have severe effects on your mood, you cannot let this get in the way of talking to your manager. Always have this conversation when you have calmly collected your thoughts and are prepared. Less empathetic managers can often interpret your explanation that you are burned out as you blaming them for being burned out. A manager could become defensive and shut down completely when faced with this prospect. Try to avoid this by not complaining about the stress and workload but instead by explaining that you are having difficulties and are looking to them for help.

Try to provide solutions, ask for a temporary reduction in your workload, try and take a few personal days, or at the very least you could ask for your camera to be off during zoom meetings. Anything that can ease your stress levels will help you with your burnout.

Put yourself first

Your mental health is incredibly important and should come first when discussing burnout with your manager. With the increased rhetoric behind mental health and burnout, your manager should be supportive when you come to him with your problem. However, there may come a time when you need to say “No”. If your manager will not prioritise the wellbeing of his employees then you will need to reevaluate and decide what is best for you. 

If your manager refuses to help you in any capacity, it may be time to search for new job opportunities. It’s an unfortunate resolution to being burned out, but some managers are unwilling or incapable of providing the support that their employees need.