Are you burnt? Are you burned out on the job? (try our cpi certificate or our crisis intervention training)Are you what we call in the Law Enforcement world “R.O.D”, or “Retired on Duty?” Becoming burned out is one of the most detrimental things that can happen to someone who is working with people in crisis situations. We’ve all seen it. You may have experienced it for yourself at some point. There is nothing worse than watching a coworker who becomes burned out. They get to the point where they are so dissatisfied, disheartened, and disgusted with the workplace environment, their supervisors, administration, the organization, or even, from time to time, the people they’re supposed to be helping. It’s difficult to watch. The question becomes, however, how do we keep that from happening? How do we prevent it?

Doing things to try to improve your skills can be helpful. Maybe take a class, or get in some extra exercise. While on the job, make sure you’re taking time for breaks so you have an opportunity to de-stress and escape from time to time. You need time away from the environment, and from the almost constant high stress situation. As often happens in this field, you’ll find people who are working double shifts. They’re working overtime to make some extra money. I remember, when working in the hospital, we’d have people working 16 hour shifts. They’d work all weekend long, and they’d work double after double after double. In the moment, it sounds great because they’re making extra money, but over time what happens to their body? What happens to them physically? They’re not getting enough sleep, they’re not eating right, their stress levels are high, and their cortisone levels are high. Not only are they having trouble staying fit, physically, but emotionally and psychologically they’re starting to suffer as well.

My job, as an effective coworker or supervisor, is to identify when that is happening and to step in and try to help. I have to recognize there are often things I can do to help alleviate the issue. Just taking the time to pull you aside and check in with you. Checking in to see if you are at a point where you need a couple days off, or you need just a short break. That can be something as simple as moving you off the unit to decompress for a little while. I can step in to give you a little bit of breathing room.

You have to be on the lookout for yourself, as well as your coworkers, keeping an eye on them, and helping them when needed.

You know you’re burned out when you hear yourself saying things like, “Man, you know, I have only a couple more years, and then I’m done. I’m just done with this job and this place.” It’s a good sign that you may need to do some real soul searching, and figure out why you are still working there. Why waste the last few years? What if you only have a few years left in life? Are you willing to spend them there? Is it just the paycheck? Because if it’s just the paycheck, maybe you’ve forgotten why you got into this profession in the first place. Have you forgotten the reasons and positive aspects of what led you to this career field?

If you’re so burned out that you’ve reached the point where you’re ineffective, it has become a serious issue. Not just for you, but for others, as well. If you’re ineffective, think of the consequences for the people who are under your care. Think about the affect it may have on the people with whom you work. Think of how your family and friends may be affected. Lastly, remember the ripple effect. Your ineffectiveness may have consequences for people you’ll never even meet. Think about that for a second or two.