Is Not Being Heard Contributing to Your Burnout at Work?

The economy is larger now than pre-pandemic; however, we’re down 5 million U.S. workers from before COVID-19. The concept of burnout has existed since the 70s, but never before has there been such a steep climb in exhaustion, fatigue, and reevaluation. It’s leading people to question what they really want, need, and deserve in life. In the U.S. especially, work is a big part of life that shows up in our identities, levels of contentment, and even the people we spend time with. 

Some people have been on the same work train for their entire lives — one professional path, one job, or with one company — and now, more than ever, train-hopping sounds pretty good. Others don’t feel like they’re ready for a new track at all; they’re just craving solid ground.

The desire to get up and go (or get up and go and lay down) is valid. After the last two years, most of us have had time to reflect on our lives and where we might want to go next. Maybe we don’t know where we want to go, but we just know it’s not here. For some, trauma has forced certain things into perspective. Whether you’re mid-burnout or post-burnout, it’s essential to take a moment and evaluate whether your current position provides value to your life. If your heart isn’t in it, staying would be a disservice to yourself, your team, and your employer. 

Reflect on what you’re feeling as part of your evaluation. The signs of burnout — overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness — can also be the symptoms of working in an environment where your voice isn’t heard. You may be broken down by years, decades even, of feeling like you’re talking to a brick wall. After a while, you probably just stopped talking.

3 Steps to Evaluate Your Next Move — Will You Stay or Will You Go?

Burnout is real, and if you are burned out, the right answer may be to walk away. And it’s also worth a moment or two of reflection because there’s a chance that you are in the right place. You may just not be getting what you need — a listening ear.

  1. Get clear about what you don’t want — Start by asking yourself what you don’t want out of your job and professional life in general. Don’t hold back. Just start writing things down without judgment. 
  2. Get clear about what you do want — Articulate everything you do want and solidify your intention to get those things by writing them down. People usually find it easier to say what they don’t want or like; this is more difficult. 
  3. Ask for what you want — Depending on your relationship with your team leaders, this may sound tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it this way: you have few choices, and none of them are wrong. First, you could identify that you’re unhappy at work and take your leave. Second, you could identify that you’re unhappy at work, clarify why, ask for change, and if you don’t get it, take your leave. Third, you could identify that you’re unhappy at work, clarify why, ask for change, and reap the beautiful benefits if you do get it. 

Once you get through these three steps, if your manager or boss (or whoever you try to express yourself to) doesn’t listen, comply, or care, then trust yourself and seek greener pastures. If, however, they’re interested and willing to work with you to provide what you want and need, you may be able to find solutions and solace right where you are. In reality, not being heard at work could be contributing to the burnout you’re experiencing.

Ultimately, I believe in intuition, but if you feel like you’re ready to bolt, just be sure. A little clarity never hurt anybody. Also, if you do find someone to listen to you when you need it most, pay that favor forward like the gift that it is. It doesn’t mean you have the answers — it means you’ll sit with them inside the questions.