China Watch Blog has learnt that experts have their suggestions on how to avoid burnout at mid-career, but many young executives have also chosen to solve it their own way.
The middle ground is the way to go, according to Li Xu, medical director of Beijing Psychen-Chestnut Global Partners Inc. Young executives have to seek a balance between professional and private lives, and they must choose to be more active outside of work. They should also establish a support network of family or friends to see them through rough patches.
Employers, too, are being encouraged to keep communications open, so young executives have clearer, more manageable goals and are allowed to build up self-esteem and self-respect as they clamber up the rungs.
Psychiatrist Tian Chenghua says burnout is not recognized as a mental disorder but is more a psychological state when workers feel emotionally or physically exhausted. As a result, efficiency may lower and productivity drops. Patients who come to him describing burnout are simply asked to slow down.
Zhang Xichao, a professor of psychology with Beijing Normal University, elaborates: “When people suffer burnout, they may fade at the workplace because they can no longer function properly. There is no more passion.” Zhang agrees that burnout is not a disease, but more a negative attitude that is hard to correct. His solution is simple.
“Once they stop working, the problem will be solved.”
Zhang may have a point, like in the case of Wen Wen, 28, who gave up her job at a fashion magazine in Shanghai nine months ago to become a full-time housewife when she could no longer take the pressure at work. Now, she travels and takes cooking lessons and is much happier for it.
Many members of the online discussion groups on douban.com say they finally plucked up courage and stopped working. Some say they have done it several times.
Dropping out of the rat race is not all negative. Some executives who quit have channeled their energy into a more positive mode by volunteering with charity groups.
Li Zhiyan, director of Social Resources Institute, a non-government organization (NGO) on corporate social responsibility, finds many highly paid professionals who used to work long hours join the NGOs because they could find no personal fulfillment at work.
“They see themselves accomplishing more by working for the poor and disadvantaged groups,” he says.
Ling Hui, senior program officer with Youchange Volunteer Support Center, says about 10 to 20 percent of its volunteers say they have experienced burnout. Some recuperate by working part time with the NGO, while others have turned full time.
More companies are recognizing this need for fulfillment outside of work and are arranging for employees to do volunteer work. In the process, management is finding the process actually encourages team building and their extra effort makes employees appreciate their bosses more.
Burnout will happen in any job, and the only way to avoid the stress is to go in with the correct attitude, no matter at which level of management.
For the employees, it is managing expectations of both the job and themselves. And for the employers, it is recognizing the stress at the different levels of management and finding the best ways to harness the positive and avoid the negative.