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Are you burnout or boreout?

Companies are becoming more aware of how workplace stress affects employees' mental health. While burnout is widely recognised, a less-discussed issue called "boreout" can also result in similar problems. Organisations are proactively tackling these challenges to enhance employee well-being.

Chronic workplace stress can result in burnout, leading to exhaustion. If not addressed, it can negatively impact mental health. The Asia Mental Health Index report, a collaborative study by Aon and Telus Health, paints a concerning picture. Over half of Singaporean workers (52%) now acknowledge increased sensitivity to stress compared to the previous year. This highlights the immense pressure many face in their daily lives.

The impact extends beyond individuals; it is permeating workplaces and will inevitably affect the economy as a whole. The research reveals that nearly half of Singaporeans (43%) openly admit that their mental health negatively affects work productivity. Ignoring this issue is no longer an option. It serves as a wake-up call, not only for businesses but for society at large.

Understanding Burnout

Some of the common symptoms of burnout are:

  • Lack of confidence in your work
  • Struggling to start work
  • Feeling disconnected from colleagues and tasks
  • Losing patience with co-workers or clients
  • Experiencing low energy levels
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks
  • Lack of satisfaction from completed work

Any employee is prone to experience burnout. Some common contributing factors that lead to burnout are:

  • Heavy workloads
  • Limited control over tasks
  • Lack of recognition
  • Isolation from colleagues
  • Unclear communication and expectations
  • Lack of authority and delegation in senior roles

Recognising Boreout

Boreout, in contrast to burnout, arises when individuals encounter understimulating or unchallenging work. This leads to outcomes akin to those observed in burnout. People experiencing boreout may feel underworked, unmotivated, and dissatisfied due to the lack of meaningful tasks and responsibilities. Consequently, fatigue, dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem often ensue. Some of the common contributing factors that lead to boreout are:

  • The absence of new tasks at work
  • Being overqualified for the position
  • Lack of responsibility and new challenges
  • Insufficient application of skillsets 
  • Lack of career progression

Addressing Burnout and Boreout

1. Self-care is crucial for overall well-being: Make sure you get sufficient rest, maintain a balanced diet, and engage in regular exercise. Avoid the pitfall of presenteeism—working while unwell—since it ultimately harms you. Research conducted by Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore reveals that presenteeism can cost employers a staggering $12.1 billion per year. Stress is one of the contributing factors to presenteeism, with over 56 percent of employees experiencing a recent increase in workplace stress. It’s important to note that even remote workers face presenteeism challenges, so prioritise your health and well-being.

2. Setting Clear Boundaries: Open communication with your line manager is crucial. Express and set clear boundaries. While it's natural to hesitate due to fear of a negative reaction, bottling up concerns won't lead to positive outcomes. Shockingly, over 92 percent of workers in Singapore are currently experiencing burnout, with 36 percent reporting high or extreme levels. Contributing factors include long working hours, pressure to meet deadlines, and increased workloads. Engage in discussions with your manager about workload adjustments based on your specific situation. It is essential to understand that a healthy work environment requires transparency in communication.

3. Properly Manage Your Time: Recognise the importance of saying no when your workload becomes overwhelming. Overly committing to work can result in burnout, negatively impacting both your well-being and productivity. Conversely, if monotony sets in due to repetitive tasks, engage in discussions with your team about taking on additional responsibilities. The emergence of AI tools like ChatGPT can assist in managing repetitive tasks. Prioritise tasks that align with your skills and interests and maintain open communication with your team. 

4. Discover New Opportunities: If the strategies mentioned earlier fail to recover your situation, it might be time for a fresh start. Job satisfaction is vital for career growth. If your current workplace doesn't prioritise employee well-being, consider seeking an employer who does. It is important to understand that everyone deserves a fulfilling working experience, and finding the right fit influences your overall well-being and success.

Both burnout and boreout cancontribute to poor mental health and dissatisfaction at work. However, they stem from opposite causes. Burnout often results from excessive workload and stress, while boreout occurs when one lacks meaningful tasks and responsibilities. Recognise the symptoms of both conditions and communicate any concerns with your employer.




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