Boost your resilience to avoid workplace burnout
Some people thrive on a pressured workload, but prolonged periods of stress will cause a strain on your resilience which could lead to burnout.
I recently found myself slightly out of my own comfort zone following the admin work involved with “going digital”.
I am definitely not alone with feeling this pressure. We have been required to move very fast to keep up with digital advances and for a profession which has remained very traditional for quite some years, there is a lot to take on in order to keep up.
On holiday I completed a resilience playbook, which has enabled me to feel in control of my weeks from this month onward.
It is important we manage our resilience and avoid burnout because if we become so stressed that we are exhausted we will no longer be able to work until we have recovered.
This, in turn, means our problems will still exist but will be on hold, or we will find ourselves too concerned about going back to the position we faced too much stress, in case we get burnt out again.
All of our resilience levels are different and there is no indicator of a burnout point. Someone may work very hard without exhaustion, whereas others may feel overwhelmed a lot easier for many different reasons. It is important to understand how to maintain and improve your resilience in order to keep your stress levels managed before it becomes unhealthy.
The resilience playbook I completed on holiday taught me two fantastic strategies which enable you to take control of your workload and boost your sense of control in the workplace.
Strategy 1: Work to a time budget
I covered this in my 'How to make flexible working work for you' article. A time audit and time budget is the best way to feel in control of your time and to boost your workplace satisfaction through achieving your goals and targets. If you have control of your working week, it doesn’t have control of you.
Strategy 2: Learn how to say no
We are natural people-pleasers, and due to this, we tend to take on too much so others can be pleased with us. But if that person knew the promised deadline would give you mental or physical strain - and perhaps may not be met - they would probably rather you had politely said no and gave an option which was more positive and productive.
How can you say no in a mutually beneficial way? The idea time resilience playbook recommends you say no without actually saying no.
You can do this by keeping a running list of all your projects, tasks and deadlines along with status updates that you can produce at any time to show what you’re working on. Not only does this help with your own workload planning and ad hoc requests, but it can also be used to friendly bat off any requests from colleagues, management or even clients when you’re already at capacity.
To use this technique the playbook advises you say in positive and helpful (rather than negative and defensive) way:
“I can do [insert bosses’ new request] by the deadline. I also have [itemise your one key commitment] due by [insert deadline], and then [insert more key commitments] due by [insert deadlines]. How do you suggest we prioritise so that they all get done?”
Alternatively, if someone asks you to do something by a certain date, never agree to it on the spot. Make it a rule for yourself. Instead, you should reflect on what you need to do to get it done, what you can flex/change, and a realistic deadline for completion.
“This will show that you’re thoughtful about your work, and your commitments, and avoid jumping in to agree to things you may not have the time capacity to achieve,” concludes the playbook.
Burnout is sadly an all too common condition, particularly in the accountant's office. We take on an area of business which causes a lot of stress to a lot of business owners so that in turn can be a big weight on our shoulders.
There may be other factors contributing to your stress such as workplace satisfaction, family life, financial troubles, health worries, or trouble with peers. There could be anything wearing away at your resilience while you are at work.
So, if you are suffering in the workplace take care of yourself and act now. If you are not sure where to start you could speak to the chartered accountants’ charity CABA.