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Symptoms of professional burnout at sales team and steps to recovery


The great resignation

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a war in Europe, inflation and an economic slowdown, job stress, anxiety and depression rates have skyrocketed. The combination of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion has led to 76% of employees experiencing professional burnout or mental health conditions (according to the Spring Health Study).

The great resignation in numbers

The result is astonishing: in 2022 – 50,5 million people in the US quit their jobs. This is a 30% increase compared to 2019 which was also a year of record resignations. Work related stress is at its highest level in history. A survey among managers shows that  major employee turnover has the greatest impact on medium-sized companies with 50 to 1,000 employees.

The Great Resignation continues to shake up the American job market as workers contend with pandemic stresses, burnouts, and loneliness.

56% of responders said that they would “very likely” quit their jobs by the next year. In comparison, only 40% of those in smaller companies and 36% in larger companies expressed their intention to quit. For medium-sized companies, employees are increasingly dissatisfied with their benefits and salaries. 55% want a better work-life balance. The financial impact of the Great Resignation on organizations is considerable. According to Gartner research, each opt-out can cost an average of $19,000.

How to define workplace burnout?

The World Health Organization describes workplace burnout as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that occurs as a result of prolonged stress and overwork in a job or professional setting. It is often characterized by feelings of cynicism, detachment from work, and a sense of reduced accomplishment or effectiveness. Burnout typically occurs in professions that involve high levels of responsibility, workload, and emotional involvement, such as healthcare, education, social work, and corporate environments.

Symptoms of burnout

Burnout results in various symptoms. Below we’ll mention a few examples that the World Health Organization describes as the most common. There are both emotional and physical symptoms, for example:

  • Emotional exhaustion: Feeling emotionally drained, and unable to cope with the demands of one’s job. This can lead to increased irritability, frustration, energy depletion and a sense of being overwhelmed. This can also cause increased detachment.
  • Depersonalization: Developing a negative and detached attitude toward clients, colleagues, or the work itself. This mental distance may involve treating people as objects rather than individuals, which can harm relationships, job satisfaction and affect workplace culture.
  • Reduced personal accomplishment: One of the most significant emotional symptoms is a decline in one’s sense of achievement and effectiveness at work. Individuals experiencing work related burnout may feel like their efforts are futile and that they are not making a meaningful impact.

How can someone identify if they are experiencing job burnout?

Identifying job burnout in oneself can be challenging because it often develops gradually over time due to work related stress. Moreover, it often looks like ordinary fatigue caused by external factors, stress or health condition. However, if you feel that you are tired for too long or feel any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is a good idea to take a closer look at your health. There are several common signs and symptoms to watch for that may indicate you are experiencing job burnout. These signs can manifest in physical, emotional, and behavioural ways.

What are the negative consequences of job burnout?

Burnout can have serious consequences for both an individual’s well-being and their professional performance. It can lead to physical health problems, increased absenteeism, decreased job satisfaction, and decreased productivity. Recognizing the signs of burnout and taking steps to address it, such as seeking support from supervisors or seeking professional help, is important to prevent its negative effects from becoming more severe.

Recovering from job burnout can be a gradual process, but there are several effective strategies you can use to help you regain your physical and emotional well-being. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Recognize and acknowledge burnout: The first step is to acknowledge that you are experiencing burnout. Accepting this reality is essential before you can begin to address it.
  • Take time off: If possible, take some time off work to rest and recharge. Even a short break can provide much-needed relief. Use this time to disconnect from work-related stressors.
  • Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Avoid bringing work-related tasks and concerns home. Make time for activities and hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation.
  • Prioritize self-care: Focus on self-care activities that promote physical and emotional well-being. This can include regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, meditation, mindfulness, or relaxation techniques.
  • Seek social support: Share your feelings with friends and family who can offer emotional support and understanding. Consider joining support groups or seeking out therapy or counselling to discuss your burnout with a professional.
  • Reflect on values and goals: Reflect on your values, both in your personal life and in your career. Reconnect with your long-term goals and consider whether your current job aligns with those aspirations.
  • Reevaluate workload: If possible, discuss your workload with your supervisor. Consider redistributing tasks, delegating responsibilities, or negotiating a more manageable workload.
  • Learn stress management techniques: Develop stress management skills to cope with work-related stressors. This might include time management, setting realistic expectations, and learning to say “no” when necessary.
  • Practice mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your daily routine. These practices can help you manage stress and regain a sense of balance.
  • Explore career changes: If burnout is severe and persistent, consider whether a change in your job or career path is necessary. This could involve seeking new opportunities, retraining for a different profession, or starting your own business.
  • Seek professional help: If burnout is significantly affecting your mental health and daily functioning, consider consulting a mental health professional or therapist. They can provide guidance, support, and therapy to address the underlying causes of burnout.
  • Plan for the future: Develop a plan for preventing future burnout. This may involve setting realistic expectations, setting career goals, and regularly reassessing your work-life balance.

Recovery from job burnout is a personal journey, and it may take time. Be patient with yourself and prioritize your well-being throughout the process. It’s essential to make sustainable changes to prevent burnout from recurring in the future and to maintain a healthier work-life balance.

What sales managers can do about burnout:

Being well organized at work can have a significant impact on the sales team’s state of mind. This can be as simple as simply telling the team what they need to do to achieve their goals.

  • Show a clear action path
    Create an action path for each salesperson to meet the required targets and identify metrics to see clearly when the rep needs help. Developing such a flowchart will help reps understand what they need to do and when to do it.
  • Set small, realistic goals
    Did you know that when you set goals that are reasonably achievable, your brain releases dopamine? Setting small, achievable goals helps increase self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment. This chemical release gives extra energy to achieve the goal we are striving for. Our brains are actively trying to help us win! This sign of cognitive commitment re-engages and motivates you to keep going!
  • Divide goals into smaller tasks
    Goals that seem to be psychologically closer help us subconsciously begin to change goals into more concrete actions. Shape new habits and introduce new tools to make forecasting and webpage management easier to make those smaller tasks easier. As a result, this will reduce the stress and uncertainty of your representatives about achieving given goal.
  • Encourage employees to be offline
    Encouraging work-life balance is key to building a dedicated and productive team. Set boundaries between your professional and private life. Let your team know about the warning signs of burnout and encourage them to take time off to recharge and take care of themselves! Supporting employees to disconnect can help both the company and the rest of the team in the long run.
  • Provide a quota relief plan
    The team must know that it is possible to disconnect, have time off and at the end of the month it will not mean less money on their bank account. Ensuring that sales targets are reduced when sales reps take time off and when they return to work, will help them take a break from the hustle and bustle of their work. And when the sales take an extended break, consider giving them a guaranteed commission so they are not tempted to sign up for the online meetings or send emails.
  • Have an open dialogue
    Talk to your team about well-being to identify employees burnout, instead of focusing strictly on work. Show that you care about your team; people perform best when they feel heard and their managers show interest. Talk, support, be interested, give time to be offline, and help your representatives appreciate their value and contribution to the organization.
  • Generate real-time salary reports
    Reporting and sales status reports is important feedback for the sales representative.Frequent and meaningful reporting reduces ambiguity and improves focus. In the sales department, feedback should enable reps to see how fast they are achieving their goals so they can prioritize their tasks accordingly.Better reporting gives reps the autonomy to better manage their time to balance company expectations and customer needs. Some warning signs of employee burnout, such as lack of productivity, concentration, or focus, can also be picked up in performance differences in the report. These real-time commission reports help representatives engage meaningfully with their goals so they can focus and concentrate on their work.
    Motivate your team with a sales reward solution for midsize companies based on the science of performance. Make an appointment with us for a presentation today and see how we can help you relieve sales burnout.

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