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Are You at Risk for Brownout?

by Dr. Kathleen Hall

The American Psychological reports that 65 percent of employees reveal that work is a significant source of stress in their lives. Our workplaces continue to be a key stressor in our lives. A new term for a type of work stress is “brownout.”

Most of us are familiar with the term burnout but brownout is new in the workplace vernacular. The researcher Michael Kibler describes brownout as similar to burnout but the symptoms are not as pronounced and overt. Brownout employees look fine on the surface as they put in tremendous hours and do volumes of work. The truth is under the surface they are like a steaming underground volcano with the swirling lava heating up and getting hotter by the day. They become more detached, have trouble focusing, become apathetic about life, have less contact with friends, they get less sleep and their mental and physical health deteriorate.

Employees with work brownout can be a real problem for your business. As they become more apathetic and overwhelmed on the inside, they lose their passion for their work and your company.

Inc Magazine reports that Kibler found in his research that you can turn a brownout employee around by becoming an active partner in their recovery. A company hired Kibler to create an executive development program for 500 of its leaders for one year. He discovered 60 high performers were planning to quit the firm within 12 months. After the program, which focused on mental and physical health, work, and family through one-on-one coaching, only two left the firm within the next five years. Incredible results to say the least.

4 Brownout Survival Tips

  1. Meditation class. Meditation calms the mind and creates clarity within your self. It can lead you home to your mind, body, and soul. There are classes all over the place even online. Try it.
  1. Yoga class. When you get stressed or depressed you disconnect from your body. Yoga is about the integration of the mind, body, and soul. There are classes available in person or online.
  1. Counseling. Get some personal counseling to have someone help you sort out your issues. You can get more clarity by having someone listen to you and guide you through the process.
  1. Honesty. Be honest with your family, friends, and management at work. Keeping your anxiety trapped inside is only going to make this get worse. People who care about you really want to help and support you. Reach out.

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