As much as we may love our jobs, we're all susceptible to burnout.
It has become such a common occurrence that the World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged its existence as an occupational phenomenon and gives the following definition: "A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed."
When experiencing burnout, workers can become exhausted, distance themselves from their jobs, and even begin to feel as though they're bad at a job they're actually quite good at. This phenomenon is especially prevalent with service reps, who work day in and day out to ensure that customers are satisfied and receiving the excellent experiences they desire.
As a service rep, it's important to understand how to take proactive steps to prevent them from happening, and understanding how to deal with them if they do. In this post, we'll hear from HubSpot service reps on their best practices and strategies for dealing with burnout in the workplace.
How HubSpot Service Reps Prevent Burnout
1. Acknowledge that burnout exists.
Although easier said than done, one of the most important things you can do to deal with burnout is to acknowledge that it exists in the first place, especially if you work in a fast-paced, results-driven environment like customer service and support.
If it's any consolation, a Deloitte survey found that 77% of respondents reported experiencing feelings of burnout at their job. And, even though 84% of respondents were passionate about their job, 64% also said the same job made them feel stressed.
Recognizing that burnout can happen to you is a step in the right direction. It can be easier to take action to avoid it, seek help, or learn how to maintain a better work-life balance.
2. Set work-life boundaries.
Chelsea Crane, a Remote Support Team Lead, has worked in support for five and a half years. Her most essential tip for managing burnout is setting boundaries. She says, "The best thing I do is to take control over what technology I have access to during and outside of working hours."
For her, this looks like setting Slack notifications to Do Not Disturb outside of working hours, disabling email on phone after-hours, and only using her work computer for work-related tasks. Crane also says that this practice is especially important when you work from home: "When your home life and work-life seem to live in the same place, it leads to feeling like you're working all the time."
Setting boundaries can also look like proactively letting your supervisors and teams know when you feel like you can or cannot take on specific tasks. You'll set yourself up for success because you know what you're capable of doing and won't create unrealistic expectations for yourself.
3. Use breaks to do something fun and rewarding.
Brakes are a crucial part of a workday, whether you're experiencing burnout or not. Having time to clear your head can help you distract yourself from a difficult task and come back to it with a fresh perspective.
Ari Tyson, a Customer Support Specialist, is a proponent of this tip and says she likes to manage burnout by taking breaks to do something fun and rewarding. She says, "I manage burnout by using my lunch period not only to eat but do something fun! Depending on the weather, I'll take a short walk in the park or play a quick game of Animal Crossing." Tyson adds, "This helps me recharge and rest my head, so I can finish the rest of the day strong!"
4. Pre-plan periods of rest.
In addition to acknowledging that burnout exists, it can also help to plan for periods of rest to ensure that you have time to relax and de-stress before hitting a wall. Our bodies will often tell us that we've overdone it through sickness, which is not fun for anyone to experience.
Crane champions this tip and says it has stuck with her since a senior leader recommended it in 2015. She says, "I started looking at my calendar with a birds-eye view every year and try to take at least one day a month as a mental health day."
Proactively blocking out time to recharge, whether you're feeling burnout or not, can give you time to clear your head, focus on yourself, and return to work energized and excited. Without these periods of rest, Crane says, "If we don't have those times planned, they are usually planned for us, and our bodies will pick a time that might not be ideal for you, and it's likely you've already hit that burnout."
5. Create mental bookends.
Ademole Fasanmade, a Customer Support Specialist, says that a great way to manage burnout is to create bookends by committing to moving on from a task once you're done with it.
He likes to focus on carpe-diem, which he describes as the urge to make the most of the present time. Fasanmade says, "I take carpe-diem to heart and combine it with creating mental bookends. This model helps me stop focusing on tasks after I finish and requires me to set boundaries around my work."
Instead of constantly re-visiting tasks and looking for things he could've done better, he finishes them and moves on. In hindsight, there may always be things that you think you could do better. Still, if you're returning to every single task you've done, you're probably overworking your mind and second-guessing yourself, which is a direct cause of anxiety and stress, which are direct causes of burnout.
6. De-clutter your workspace.
The environment we work in has a significant impact on how we feel. For example, if you're working at a cluttered desk, you may feel more stressed and unproductive. Psychology supports this, as clutter has been shown to draw attention away from the task at hand and make your brain feel like your work is never done.
That's why Ed Justen, a Senior Customer Support Specialist, says that a way to prevent burnout is to de-clutter your workspace: "It goes without saying; the less clutter, the better. Do your best to eliminate as much clutter from your environment as possible."
He recommends loading your workspace with meaningful items that allow you to enjoy the time you spend there doing work. When you enjoy what you're surrounded with, you're less likely to feel overwhelmingly anxious and stressed, which, as mentioned above, are direct causes of burnout.
Justen works from home, but you can apply this tip to wherever you do your work. Aim to create a workspace that feels personal to you, is conducive to productivity, and fuels your brain in positive ways. Maybe you enjoy organization, so you create designated storage areas for the items you need daily, or you want reminders of your personal life, so you hang up pictures of people you care about.
7. Take care of your mind and body.
Another tip from Crane is to take care of your mind and body. While everyone has their preferences, Crane does this for herself by finding ways to move: "During my lunch hour, I like to exercise on my Peloton and get in a quick sweat. This usually leaves me with 15 minutes to listen to music/podcasts and gets my mind right for the rest of the day."
Doing this has helped her increase her energy levels, productivity, and happiness in and out of work. She also enjoys taking time to journal and write down the things she is grateful for to get some of the noisiness out of her brain.
While exercising and journaling are unique to Crane, taking care of your mind and body can look different for every person. You can spend time on your hobbies or anything that makes you feel satisfied and fulfilled.
8. Don't feel bad taking time off.
Some businesses are more lenient in their allowances for taking time off than others, but, as mentioned above, taking time off can be a valuable tool for managing burnout.
Justen gives this tip as well, and outlines common thoughts that may be running through your head like, "The team is really busy, and I feel bad about leaving," or "I'm not sure what is an acceptable amount of time for taking a vacation." Whatever it is, chances are you may have a few days that you're able to take off.
Coordinate with the necessary people, and plan time for yourself to fully detach from work and focus on what matters most: your well-being. Most importantly, be off when you're off. Hold yourself accountable, and maybe recruit others to remind you that you're taking this time for yourself and it is truly ok to disengage until you're back at work.
As Justen says, "You deserve it."
You Can Deal With Burnout and Be Still Successful
You do have the ability to address and overcome the burnout you may be feeling. You can develop the strategies you need to identify the feelings as they come on, and learn how to deal with them so effects are more manageable.
At the end of the day, though, the first and most crucial step is simply acknowledging that burnout exists. You have the power to succeed, regardless of whether you sometimes need to take more time to focus on yourself.