Career Fortitude



In Burnout Part 1, I shared some of the warning signs of burnout and the impact it can have on your well-being, job satisfaction, and relationships.  In Part 2, I reviewed addressing burnout as it’s happening.  Now, let’s talk more about how we can introduce preventative measures to work through the behaviors and situations that lead to burnout and how to avoid suffering from this chronic condition.


To prevent the risk of burnout, the routines in our lives and how we prioritize them are critical for success.  Self-care plays a vital role in preventing burnout.  Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.  Engage in activities that rejuvenate you and prioritize sufficient sleep, a nutritious diet, and regular breaks during the workday.  By investing time in self-care, you can recharge and prevent burnout from taking hold.  This is easier said than done for most of us.  The greatest self-care routine is only as good as the commitment and consistency given to it.  It’s easy to skip meals, skip breaks during the workday, and sacrifice quality sleep for the other thousand things going on in your life.  You must actively work to keep self-care at the core of your career to ensure you’re fending off burnout.


Another major contributor to burnout is the lack of boundaries between work and personal life. You must establish clear boundaries to prevent work from encroaching on your personal time.  Set realistic expectations and communicate them with your colleagues and superiors.  Learn to say no when necessary, and avoid overcommitting yourself.  By defining boundaries, you create a healthier balance between work and personal life, reducing the risk of burnout.  Yes, it’s possible to take on more work than can fit into a 40-hour workweek.  It’s possible to pack your calendar with meetings that push out the dedicated working time you need to dedicate to a project.  You can sacrifice personal time off to meet a deadline that was unexpectedly shortened.  But what are you gaining?  Do the negative impacts on your self-care routines make you more productive, or actually begin to hinder your productivity and quality of work?

Support Network

A strong support network can make a significant difference in preventing burnout.  Cultivate positive relationships with colleagues, mentors, and friends who understand the challenges of your work environment.  Seek advice, share experiences, and offer support to others.  Avoid falling into the negativity trap.  Ensure your interactions with your support network are grounded in a growth mindset, with the intention of maintaining your self-care or improving it.  We all need to vent and share frustration, but when interactions turn toxic it stifles your growth mindset and can create or deepen burnout.

Pursue meaningful work

Engaging in meaningful work that aligns with your values and passions is a powerful antidote to burnout.  Constant reflection on your career goals and aspirations provides you a road map on your current path and where that path can lead you.  Find purpose in your work and focus on the aspects that bring you joy and fulfillment.  By connecting with your purpose, you enhance your resilience and motivation, reducing the risk of burnout.  If you don’t know what work is meaningful to you, dedicate authentic reflection time to discover it.  Without actively challenging yourself to find meaning in your work, the risk of burnout is increased.

How organizations can prevent burnout in employees

I recently read an article that started with a statement regarding employee retention.  The point was that instead of organizations spending so many resources on recruiting new employees, they should be spending those resources on retaining current employees.  How organizations identify and address employee burnout can be extremely beneficial to the efforts to improve retention, engagement, and productivity.  While organizations strive to create a conducive work environment and promote employee well-being, the reality is that they often fall short in preventing burnout.  Organizations that don’t prioritize employee satisfaction are doomed to suffer due to poor performance, turnover, and a toxic culture.  If managers can’t identify employee burnout and successfully guide their employees through it, they will be burdened with the extra work created by poor performance and engagement on their team.  Being “too busy” to focus on engagement and employee satisfaction and avoiding spending the resources to support them only leads to further disengagement and productivity loss.

Culture of overwork

Many organizations foster a culture of overwork, where long hours and high productivity are valued above all else.  This culture perpetuates the notion that employees should constantly push themselves, leading to chronic stress and exhaustion.  Despite attempts to implement work-life balance initiatives, the underlying culture of overwork persists, making it challenging for organizations to prevent burnout effectively.  While commitments to your self-care routines can be beneficial, the pressure of an overwork culture can be overbearing and lead to sacrifices.  If your organization and coworkers have adapted to accept chronic stress and exhaustion as part of the job, it puts you in a difficult position when defying these standards.

Unrealistic expectations

Organizations can set unrealistic expectations for their employees, demanding high performance and productivity without providing adequate resources or support. This constant pressure to meet unrealistic targets can overwhelm employees and create an environment ripe for burnout.  Poor delegation practices, unclear priorities, and an inability to recognize signs of excessive workload all contribute to employee exhaustion as well.  An organization that doesn’t acknowledge the true resources needed to perform work efficiently while maintaining its employee’s well-being is doomed to foster an environment of burnout.  Managers must constantly analyze workload, available resources, priorities, and realistic expectations to ensure organizational goals are attainable without added pressure on employees.

Lack of emotional support

Employees need emotional support and a sense of belonging to thrive in the workplace.  Many organizations overlook this aspect, focusing primarily on task-oriented goals.  The lack of emotional support, empathetic leadership, and opportunities for open dialogue leaves employees feeling isolated and disconnected.  Feeling unheard and disconnected fast-tracks burnout in most of us.  The natural instinct in the workplace where you intend to contribute is to create strong connections with your leaders and coworkers.

While most of the mentioned strategies seem like obvious and fundamental ways to avoid burnout in the workplace, many people struggle to maintain strong self-care routines and organizations fail to prioritize eliminating burnout among their employees.  Lack of empathy quickly becomes a theme on the subject of burnout creation.  When you don’t offer yourself the same empathy and care you would show to others, you sacrifice your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.  You must be empathetic to your own values and boundaries to protect yourself from burnout.  When organizations don’t empathize with employees, task-oriented goals and unrealistic productivity become the driver of decision-making.  Without keeping empathy as a core business tenant, organizations create division between the organization’s goals and employee engagement to make those goals a reality.

After identifying how you can proactively reduce the risk of burnout and instilling solid routines in your life, maintaining these practices is key to long-term career satisfaction and self-preservation.  Organizations must also accept responsibility for their employee’s well-being and their most valuable resource.  Finding an organization that aligns with your values and respects your mental, emotional, and physical health is something you deserve to achieve, and will ultimately support your professional goals and success.

Link to my FREE Career Satisfaction Worksheet

Philip Hilt – Leadership & Career Coach

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