Back to Work Burnout?
How to Improve Workplace Wellbeing
How often do you find yourself exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated by your workload? Do you feel hopeless about completing the deadlines piled up on your desk? Are the pressures and expectations from your manager and colleagues starting to weigh you down? If this is the case, you may be experiencing a common workplace phenomenon known as burnout.
Workplace burnout is characterised by physical, emotional or mental exhaustion and doubts about your competence and the value of your work. Burnout often stems from stress within your role and can contribute to mental health issues, demotivation and poorer job performance. Unfortunately, stress is no stranger to the workplace, so how can you prevent it from escalating into burnout?
One answer is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence refers to a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. A key aspect of emotional intelligence is that of stress management. Those with high emotional intelligence tend to have more coping strategies for stressful situations which allows them to manage these challenges in a more effective way*. People with higher emotional intelligence are also more likely to engage in techniques that decrease their levels of burnout**. This suggests that higher emotional intelligence can protect people from the negative effects of stress.
Not only does emotional intelligence make it easier to manage stress effectively, it also improves people’s wellbeing. Research has shown that emotional intelligence training leads to a significant improvement in mental health, happiness and life satisfaction***. Additionally, emotional intelligence has been implicated in the maintenance of health and performance in a challenging work environment****. This means that a higher emotional intelligence simultaneously reduces the risk of workplace burnout and improves your wellbeing.
So, next time you feel like you’re heading on a downward spiral, consider how you can develop and use your emotional intelligence skills in the battle against burnout.
*Shahid, R., Stirling, J., & Adams, W. (2018). Promoting wellness and stress management in residents through emotional intelligence training. Advances in Medical Education and Practice, 9, 681-686.
**Furnell, B. A. (2008). Exploring the relationship between burnout, emotional labour and emotional intelligence: A study on call centre representatives (Doctoral dissertation, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University).
***Nelis, D., Kotsou, I., Quoidbach, J., Hansenne, M., Weytens, F., Dupuis, P., & Mikolajczak, M. (2011). Increasing emotional competence improves psychological and physical well-being, social relationships, and employability. Emotion, 11(2), 354-366.
****Di Fabio, A., & Kenny, M. E. (2016). Promoting well-being: The contribution of emotional intelligence. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(1182), 1-13.