Can you avoid end-of-the-year career burnout? Job experts reveal secrets

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Although the holiday season seems like a time of fun and frolicking, for many working Americans, the end of the year can bring on stress, deadlines and worry — which can lead to career burnout. 

“Burnout is really a year-round issue, but especially during the holidays, as employees can feel additional stress as their personal lives ramp up,” Jessica Larson, senior human resources specialist with Insperity in Orlando, Florida told FOX Business. 

“At the same time, many businesses pick up speed before year’s end to prepare for the year ahead,” she said.

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And “when work duties and family commitments come into conflict, employees can feel caught in the middle.”

Work-life balance techniques are important to manage these stressors and prevent burnout.  

Here are a few of the best strategies to manage work around the holidays, according to experts.

Engage in open communication 

An effective way to combat burnout during any season, and the end of the year approaches, is having open communication. 

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“Employees should talk to their managers when they struggle with work-life balance and ask for support in prioritizing their assignments,” Larson told FOX Business. 

Though workers sometimes worry that asking for help will set back their careers, the reality is that managers appreciate it when employees are honest about their bandwidth, Larson said.

“Their managers may not realize they are struggling, or [may] even mistake their burnout for a lack of interest in work.”

“If employees are not open about burnout, then their managers may not realize they are struggling, or even mistake their burnout for a lack of interest in work,” she said.

Communicating openly can also avoid a scenario in which an employee misses a deadline or performs poorly because he or she didn’t request the resources they needed to succeed, Larson noted.

Try setting some boundaries

Both employees and employers should set boundaries around the holidays so that expectations are crystal-clear for everyone, said Larson. 

woman using laptop

“Deadlines around the holidays should be communicated as early as possible, so that employees can schedule their family commitments and travel plans around workplace demands,” continued Larson. 

Communication is key for employees to prioritize their assignments before the end of the year, and some priorities might be obvious. 

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“For instance, an end-of-year report that must be reviewed by senior leadership would typically take priority over an internal presentation with no set date,” said Larson. 

“It is always best for employees to involve their managers in discussions about how to balance their workloads.”

Become a work ‘grinch’

You may have to go into “grinch” mode to stay focused on your work, said Emily Ballesteros, founder of Burnout Management, LLC, in Seattle, Washington, and author of the upcoming book “The Cure for Burnout: How to Find Balance and Reclaim Your Life” (Feb. 2024).  

If you have double your usual workload and you know you do your best work in a quiet space with no distractions, do everything in your power to lock yourself in a quiet space with no distractions,” Ballesteros told FOX Business. 

man working from home

Fielding unexpected calls, encountering household distractions or getting stuck in meetings you don’t really need to be a part of are examples of ways our productivity can be derailed during the day, said Ballesteros. 

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If possible, she recommended telling others in your circle, “I’m going to need to be a bit of a hermit to get my to-do list done for the next few weeks. If I seem anti-social, it’s not you. It’s just what I have to do to wrap my work up on time.”

Keep a close eye on the calendar

As the end of the year approaches, spend a short period of time each morning looking at your calendar and creating a must-do list for the day to determine how you will tackle your priorities, Ballesteros suggested. 

Signs of burnout include increased stress, constant anxiety about work, and low energy or irritability. 

“You are in control of your time,” she said. “Having a short meeting with yourself to set your priorities before diving into your day can save you from turning around at night and thinking, ‘I was busy all day and didn’t do anything I needed to do.’”

Know the signs of burnout 

Larson with Insperity told FOX Business that signs of burnout include increased stress, constant anxiety about work, and low energy or irritability. 

“Burnout can also lead to chronic tardiness or absenteeism and reduced performance,” she said.

senior woman at laptop

“It is important for employees to self-reflect on their internal stress levels and equally important for employers to notice the external signs of burnout on their teams.”

Know how to address productivity

The more satisfied and engaged employees feel at work, the more productive they can be, experts say. 

“Employees need support from their leaders to do their best work,” Larson told FOX Business.

“When management comes together to plan for the holiday season, they will see employees better able to do their jobs, while also enjoying time with their loved ones.”

Ballesteros with Burnout Management agreed it’s in a company’s best interest not to have a building full of burned-out employees — not just for the sake of employee retention and reputation, but because satisfied employees are productive employees. 

“Having a game plan that supports employees, especially during a busy season, demonstrates that a company cares about their employees’ day-to-day experience and well-being,” Ballesteros said.

“Satisfied employees who feel that they are treated fairly, and that leadership wants to see them succeed, are incentivized to work hard and be loyal to their organization,” she added. 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit foxbusiness.com/lifestyle.

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