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Help with severe burnout--can't take time off, etc.?

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Old 11-14-2011, 05:49 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
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DarkAngel77 HB User
Unhappy Help with severe burnout--can't take time off, etc.?

Like the title says, I am in a situation where I am facing severe burnout. Some quick background: I work for an agency at the moment, and have been there a little under 2 years. I'm also considered a contract employee--I work full time hours and have a lot of responsibilities, but I'm not eligible for any benefits at all (no insurance, no personal time, no sick time, no overtime, no EAP plan).

Lately I've felt more and more like I'm drowning, and it's clear that I'm burning out--I'm starting to feel jaded, angry, depressed, and exhausted. There are many issues at hand, but the main one is that our office is SEVERELY understaffed for the huge amount of traffic we receive. Myself, I literally juggle the work of 3 different programs. Our manager is awesome and has been trying like mad to get us some more help, but since our office is state and federally funded, all of that depends on the amount of funding that is available; which at the moment, is not enough. The work I do can also be emotionally exhausting at times since I tend to see clients when they're going through a stressful and painful period of their lives, and although I do enjoy my work and try to help the best I can I feel that I am not equipped with enough counseling skills to withstand the amount of pain I hear people going through. (my job is mostly an admin one, but it does involve very heavy contact with the public.)

Long story short, I'm upset because all the usual advice you hear about how to tackle burnout--delegate work, take time off, etc.--won't help due to us being stretched so thin. Taking time off is literally not an option because there's so few of us, and I can't get personal time to take, anyway.

I don't want to quit, since I do like my manager and my co-workers, and feel that they are literally the best group I've ever worked for. But the daily stress and strain of my workload and the hectic nature of the job is crushing me, and I feel it both emotionally and physically. I desperately need to find a way to cope.

Does anyone have any suggestions, or options?

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Old 12-07-2011, 01:32 PM   #2
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Re: Help with severe burnout--can't take time off, etc.?

Is there anyway at all that you could take a week or two off??? Sounds like you need it.

Old 12-20-2011, 10:49 AM   #3
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 7
DarkAngel77 HB User
Re: Help with severe burnout--can't take time off, etc.?

Hi, sorry I hadn't been back in awhile...unfortunately, to answer your question, the answer is no. I don't get any personal or sick days at all--I don't even get holiday pay--, and just taking off without pay isn't really possible either due to us being so short-staffed. One of my co-workers even offered to donate a day or two off to me so that I could take a breather, but our higher ups would not approve it (probably for budget reasons).

Of course, there is always the option to quit, but as everyone knows, that would NOT be a smart thing to do in this economy right now, especially in my area.

I feel there has to be a solution, but what it is, I don't know

Old 01-06-2012, 01:51 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Maple Ridge BC Canada
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bugspg HB User
Re: Help with severe burnout--can't take time off, etc.?

It won't help in the short term but in the long term my advice would be to join a union. If you live in the USA that might be a problem since American's are almost always paranoid about unions and there is little social or cultural support for them or anyone who belongs or wants to belong to one. However, if you live in Canada or any other developed country the chances are good that a union could help - getting you the time off, EAP, etc, etc you obviously need. Meantime, hugs and best wishes.

Old 05-07-2012, 05:21 PM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2011
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DarkAngel77 HB User
Re: Help with severe burnout--can't take time off, etc.?

It's been some time since I last posted...and things have just got worse. Long story short, I have been given the primary responsibility for YET ANOTHER program, the most labor-intensive and stressful one yet. The stress of that alone along with everything else is absolutely crushing--people in our other offices are appalled at how much I have to do, I don't feel all that safe (the program, along with the others I work with, frequently involves withholding funds from people until/if they comply with a state program, and I am verbally abused quite often. I fear being physically attacked one day). I am literally doing the work of 4 people, and as before, there is NO overtime available, NO time off (I can't even call in sick!), and I don't even get breaks half the time. I barely get time to take lunch. I cry at least 2-3 times a day out of pure frustration, and can't stop easily.

Today brought the straw that broke the camel's back. A week ago, one of my clients had a glitch in their file and didn't get their expected payment. We found the problem and sent in a form we use to tell our claims processing staff of the issue. The client got their payment and was happy then, but before that he had called the claims center multiple times. A member of the claims center staff then sent our head office a nasty e-mail about how we had done this person wrong, how we'd told them all this incorrect info, and were avoiding the claims center's calls (they had called and one of my co-workers put them on hold to get me...and they hung up in the 30 seconds it took me to get to the phone). The e-mail went all through the upper chain of command , concluding with a stern e-mail from our district manager about how we "needed to see how to resolve these issues" and that we needed to "make sure stuff like this didn't become a problem". The most hurtful part was that ALL of this was done behind our backs without even consulting even my supervisor first to explain what had actually happened--the other e-mails between the higher-ups were quoted in the e-mail I got from the district manager, including one where they said that they were going to call and "discuss the (office name) situation" without any of us on the call. Now I'm literally trembling with fear of being fired for something that really wasn't my fault. I feel like I've broken in two.

I can't take this anymore. Something has to give. I could look for another job, but that could take quite a while in my area, and how will I get away from the office for interviews?

Thanks for letting me vent! I need some hope!

Last edited by DarkAngel77; 05-07-2012 at 05:23 PM.

Old 05-07-2012, 06:37 PM   #6
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Re: Help with severe burnout--can't take time off, etc.?

I really think you need to look for another job. Every day you stay there in that environment, you take days off of your life. That job seem extremely stressfull and I think when you do go home at night, start working on a resume and see if you can get some interviews after hours. I'm sure any interviewing employer will understand your position if you cannot leave during regular hours.

Heck, you could find the nearest stress center and admit yourself for a week or so and collect FMLA... if that is available to you. Sounds like you work for an employer that would have that available to you. Get some mental health time to yourself.

In the meantime, you need to just keep reminding yourself that you can only do so much in a day. Do the best you can and that's all they can expect from you.

Old 08-31-2012, 08:20 AM   #7
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blackomen HB User
Re: Help with severe burnout--can't take time off, etc.?

My answer isn't the most "politically correct"..

First thing, you need to take care of yourself. NOT your company.

Do you NEED this job or else you'll be in dire financial straits? How long can you survive without a job? If you can't live without it, then it's time to create a safety net yourself. Cut down as much of your expense as you can.

If you have enough to live without a job for, say, 2 years, then start voluntarily working less regardless of how much pressure and abuse you endure in your decision. Obviously if they are making everyone work way more than what they're supposed to, they cannot find any new employees to replace you at your wage. So take a risk - take advantage of their dire situation while you recoup and look elsewhere. Good luck!

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