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Brownout: The new name for workplace stress

WASHINGTON — According to the American Psychological, 65 percent of employees say work is a significant source of stress in their lives. Our workplaces continue to be a key stressor, and a new term for a type of work stress is “brownout.”

Most of us are familiar with the term “burnout,” but brownout is new in the workplace vernacular. The researcher Michael Kibler describes brownout as similar to burnout, but the symptoms are not as pronounced and overt.

Brownout employees look fine on the surface, as they put in tremendous hours and do volumes of work. But under the surface, they are like a steaming underground volcano, with swirling lava heating up and getting hotter by the day. They become more detached, have trouble focusing, become apathetic about life, have less contact with friends and get less sleep, and their mental and physical health deteriorates.

Employees with brownout can be a real problem for your business as they become more apathetic and overwhelmed. On the inside, they lose their passion for their work and your company.

Inc. Magazine reports that Kibler found it’s possible to turn a brownout employee around by becoming an active partner in their recovery. A company hired Kibler to create an executive-development program for 500 of its leaders for one year.

Kibler discovered 60 of these high performers were planning to quit the firm within 12 months. After the program, which focused on mental and physical health, work and family through one-on-one coaching, only two left the firm within the next five years.

Incredible results to say the least.

Tips for those suffering from brownout:

  1. Meditation class. Meditation calms the mind and creates clarity. It can lead you home to your mind, body and soul. There are classes all over the place, even online. Try it.
  2. Yoga class. When you get stressed or depressed, you disconnect from your body. Yoga is about the integration of the mind, body and soul. Classes are also available in person or online.
  3. Get some personal counseling to have someone help you sort out your issues. You can get more clarity by having someone listen to you and guide you through the process.
  4. Be honest with your family, friends and management at work. Keeping your anxiety trapped inside is only going to make this get worse. People who care about you really want to help and support you. Reach out.

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