Job burnout can seriously impact your quality of life. You might spend 40 hours or more a week at work. If you’re dissatisfied with your job, it could affect your physical health, your relationships, and your self-esteem.
According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout can lead to:
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Anger or irritability
- Compromised immunity
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
Rarely is any job perfect, but there are ways to gain more satisfaction out of where you work and what you do.
It may help to remember the four E’s at work: energy, excitement, enjoyment, and engagement. By focusing on achieving those qualities in your job, you can get more fulfillment out of your work and achieve an improved quality of life. Here are some tips to cultivate each one in your professional life.
Energy at work is important because it helps you focus on the task at hand. You need energy to positively contribute in meetings, effectively collaborate with team members, avoid making mistakes and be more productive and efficient in your work.
Typically, people feel more or less energized at certain times of the day. One person might be a night owl and feel most energetic at nighttime. An early riser may be more productive early in the morning. If you know you tend to have more energy at a certain time of your workday, try to accomplish your most difficult tasks then.
One practice you might try is to “eat your frog.” This productivity method recommends identifying your most difficult task for the day and complete it first. That way, you won’t procrastinate and put it off, and risk doing a poor job at it or not accomplish it at all. You’ll also have less intense tasks for the rest of your day, which may be easier to check off your list.
If you do your best work later in the day or at night, see if you’re able to take on a deadline-based schedule with flexible work hours. Instead of working an 8-to-5 work schedule, maybe your employer would be open to letting you work whenever you want, as long as you meet your deadlines. Then, you can work when you’re more energized.
If you do work typical work hours, be aware of the “afternoon slump.” It’s common for people to feel a dip in energy around 1-3 p.m. in a typical workday.
To avoid a slump in energy, make sure you:
- Eat healthy, whole foods and unprocessed lunches focused on satiating protein, fruits, and veggies. If you do eat carbs, make sure they’re complex carbs, to avoid a blood sugar spike.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for at least two strength-training sessions a week and at least three days a week of aerobic exercise for 30 minutes or longer.
- Create a regular sleep schedule of at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
If you do feel less energy in the afternoon, try to do your more difficult tasks in the morning. Avoid scheduling afternoon meetings. Get up and walk around for a few minutes to get energized.
Boredom in the workplace is costly to employers and individuals. A study published in “Issues in Mental Health Nursing” found boredom can lead to errors, decreased productivity, and a lack of focus on the job. If you’re not excited to be at work, your quality of work can suffer.
There are lots of ways to make work more exciting, even when you’re tasked with doing similar things each day. Consider these ideas.
- Ask your supervisor for more responsibility. Volunteer to take on extra tasks or train on a new skill.
- Sign up for learning and development opportunities. They give you something new to tackle and can help you advance your career.
- Embrace problems and challenges. Look for ways to improve business operations. Suggest ideas. Offer to spearhead committees or work initiatives.
- Participate in work activities. Maybe your company offers lunch and learn programs or is hosting a happy hour where you can get to know your coworkers more.
- Look for conference and travel opportunities. Talk to your manager about attending industry events on behalf of your company.
- Organize team bonding events. Partner with a local charity or food bank to give back to your community. Write up a summary of the event your company can share on social media.
Refuse to be limited by your job description. An entrepreneurial mindset, one that motivates you to go above and beyond in your role, can lead to more excitement in your job and more leadership practice. Contribute ideas and suggestions in your role, in meetings, and to your manager. Take on new responsibilities so you’re continually growing on the job.
It’s true, typically one of the main functions of a job is to provide a paycheck. But since your work impacts so many other areas of your life, it’s much more rewarding when you enjoy what you do.
You’re also more likely to produce better work when you get enjoyment out of your job. Gallup research has found:
- When employees know and use their strengths, they perform better, are more engaged, and are less likely to leave their employer.
- People who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life.
- People who frequently use their natural abilities and talents report better health and are less likely to report high cholesterol or hypertension.
If you’re not enjoying your work responsibilities, ask your manager to chat. Tell your supervisor you’re interested in creating a career map, where you can develop your skills to move into a more enjoyable role in the future.
Talk about what you view your strengths as and how you see those contributing to the company. Maybe there’s an opportunity for a whole new role to be created for you, or for you to shadow someone else to learn skills that can help you move into a new position.
If you’re stuck working in a role or doing certain duties at the moment, try to identify the positive things about your current job. Research has consistently linked gratitude with greater levels of happiness. Start by thinking about what about your job you’re grateful for – maybe just being employed is something to be thankful for at the moment.
When things get you down at work, return to your list of positive things about your job. Look for opportunities to make you appreciate your job more, whether it’s asking for a work-from-home day every week or the ability to connect with a mentor at work.
Engagement, according to Gallup, is a measure of how committed to, involved in, and enthusiastic about a workplace an employee is.
If you’re engaged at work, you’re willing to go above and beyond your required duties. You might volunteer to stay late to work on a project or add some extra helpful slides to a presentation.
Engagement is speaking highly about your workplace to your friends and family. It’s encouraging others to apply for your company when there’s an open position.
Gallup found the biggest variant in employee engagement is a manager or team leader, who accounts for up to 70% of the variance. If you’re not feeling engaged at work, identify the cause. Start with your manager. Is there some way to improve that relationship?
You might request a weekly or bi-weekly check-in, where you can talk with your manager about how work is going, what successes you’ve had and any roadblocks you’re facing. If your manager is toxic, you might consider talking with a different manager or human resources to see if you can get reassigned.
Other factors that affect employee engagement include:
- Your sense of purpose at work
- Your development
- Whether or not you use your strengths
See a pattern? Engagement is directly related to what influences excitement, enjoyment, and energy at work. At your job, try to:
- Find opportunities to use your talents
- Embrace learning and development
- Continuously train on new skills so you can grow
If you’re looking for a new job, ask a hiring manager about their employee engagement initiatives. Employee engagement is a big part of job satisfaction, so it’s best when companies focus on improving it for employees.
Incorporate the 4 E’s in Your Career Goals
When you feel energy, excitement, enjoyment, and engagement from your job, you can achieve a better work-life balance and improve your overall health. Try to have a conversation about these elements as early as possible in your job, including in your initial interviews. You deserve to feel these at work, so ask an interviewer what kind of support they provide the team.
If you’re in a job and you’re struggling with one or all of these areas, talk with your manager to identify ways your duties and role can be improved upon. Using gratitude, try to focus on the positives while you’re at work. Consider looking elsewhere if you’re not fulfilled. Find your next career opportunity from AccruePartners now.