Workers are experiencing career burnout at a surprisingly young age – and COVID is making it worse

At an age when it seems like most young professionals should just be hitting their stride, it turns out that many are already burning out. Those are the findings from new research conducted by The Office Group. Their survey of thousands of working adults found that the average worker is most like to experience career burnout by the age of 32.

Workers reported being stressed out by the combined pressures of increased hours of work and a mounting workload. More than half of participants (52 per cent) said that having too much work was impacting their mental health. While many sectors have cut back on staff and looked for ways to cut costs, the remaining employees find themselves performing duties that used to be the responsibilities of several people.

Long hours of work are taking their toll on an even greater number of people, with 58 per cent of respondents blaming the extended workday and lack of personal time leaving them feeling burnt out.

Employees surveyed said that they feel the need to be always “on” throughout their working hours – while simultaneously being pressured to take on extra work. Work/life balance really matters to people, more so even than money.

Nearly on third (29 per cent) said that they would even consider taking an unpaid leave of absence in order to battle their stress levels.

COVID-19 is exacerbating the situation

Most workers surveyed (59 per cent) say that they are feeling even more pressure to produce results and are working even longer hours since they have transitioned to working remotely. The increased work/life balance and reduced stress that were supposed to come with cutting out the commute haven’t yet been forthcoming for the majority of workers. The reality is working from home also means living at work. This can make it more challenging to set boundaries.

Unhappy hour

At least we have the weekends to relax, right? Not necessarily. A separate survey of 2,000 workers found that most – fully 88 per cent – say that they start feeling anxious about working on Monday by early afternoon on Sunday.

Also, many of them say that they are putting in roughly three hours of unpaid work for their job over the weekend. These tasks typically include checking emails (45 per cent), working on presentations (38 per cent), and making work-related phone calls (31 per cent).

The unhappiest hour? Survey participants – on average – say that 3:58pm on Sunday is when the work anxiety kicks in and the weekend is officially over.

Change your focus

Every job has its pros and cons. When you’re in a negative state towards your job, you tend to only pay attention to the things that bother you. Try looking at the good instead. Are there some people who you seeing or chatting online with over the course of your day? If not, try making an effort to get to know people better. That in itself can be a creative and rewarding challenge. One great perk of any job is the people you meet, the connections you make. This can be especially challenging – and especially rewarding – while working remotely. We still need meaningful human interactions.

Do you get any satisfaction out of the work itself? Do you have an opportunity to shine? Doing a job well, succeeding, delivering results can be very rewarding. Plus, at the very least there’s the paycheque, you must enjoy that. And not just for the money, but for the recognition that someone values your efforts enough to pay you to show up and work for them.

When you’re starting to feel burnt out or anxious about work – try focussing on the positives. It might help.

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