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The fine line between engagement and burnout 

You love your job. You are committed to the organization’s mission. But that commitment and desire to take on more may not actually be a positive. 

Although being an engaged employee has benefits (e.g., highly engaged employees report increased productivity, better quality of work, and higher customer satisfaction), being too engaged has the potential to backfire by increasing the possibility of burnout. This is especially true when work is demanding and there’s deadline pressure. 

How do you know it is burnout? 

If you are feeling exhaustion and increased negativity toward your job and feeling like you have reduced professional efficacy, you may be feeling the effects of burnout. In purpose-driven work, there is an even higher risk of burnout. Employees who consistently take on too much or make large personal sacrifices for work are at increased risk. Burnout may happen when chronic workplace stress is not successfully managed—and in organizations where employees are really committed to the mission, the tendency for this risk can be higher. Checking emails at midnight and other habits of highly engaged employees can contribute toward burn out.  

How has the pandemic affected burnout? 

For many of us, the pandemic has blurred lines between work and home. Due to the pandemic, many people have experienced a tremendous workload, plus a sudden move to working from home may have resulted in increased interruptions and inadequate equipment and technology to do your job. Consider this analogy for stress: Starting a teapot with hot water means it will boil faster once it is put on the stove. However, cold water can tolerate more and more heat before it boils. Thus, a more relaxed person can tolerate more workplace stress before reaching their boiling point. 

The fine line between engagement and burnout 

Engagement and burnout are clearly correlated. If you are a highly engaged employee, it’s critical you monitor or assess yourself for signs of burnout and address it appropriately. Furthermore, you are not alone—75% of people say they’ve experienced burnout and 40% say they have experienced it specific to the pandemic. 

How to combat burnout 

With so many people working from home, it is important to develop boundaries. Just because you may live where you work does not mean that you live in your office. Be sure to step away from your work, both physically and if possible by turning off email and other notifications, so you are truly off the clock. Furthermore, schedule your off-the-clock activities so they are as much a priority as your work activities—schedule time to engage in a hobby, take a walk, or do something you enjoy.