Engineers are an odd breed. They are overflowing with hard skills in math and science, but they often must use creativity to solve problems. They tend to be stubborn in their views of the world, but they must be flexible in how they accomplish tasks and finish projects. They are determined to learn more, work harder and be the best at their jobs, but they rarely make career moves. Engineers are unlike any other type of professional — and they like it that way.
However, despite all their dissimilarities, engineers do hold one thing in common with other professionals: their ability to burn out. Burnout is a psychological condition which impacts a person’s emotional and physical well-being, often preventing them from being productive and feeling satisfied. Though most engineers revel in their work, they are still at risk of burning out in the following four ways.
4 Causes of Burnout Among Engineers
All workers experience stress, and when chronic stress is allowed to compound with other issues, burnout is sure to follow. Those secondary issues vary across careers, but engineers are most likely to experience one or more of the following:
Overwork. Engineers will do anything to solve the problems they face — including stay at work until their work is done. However, when engineers work marathon hours week after week, their bodies and minds do not get the necessary break for rest and recovery.
Work-Life imbalance. Admittedly, this can be another effect of overwork, but imbalances can occur for other reasons, too. Engineers need to put as much time and effort into cultivating a rewarding home life as they do building their careers — or else they will eventually suffer burnout.
Unreasonable expectations. Many engineers are terrified of failure, and engineering managers hardly do much to assuage those fears. As a result, engineers can develop unreasonable expectations for their work and managers can put additional pressure on their performance. This perfectionism isn’t healthy, especially in a chronic state.
Boredom. Sometimes, engineers get stuck in bad positions that don’t provide sufficient challenge and lack the satisfying sense of accomplishment they crave. Engineers are more susceptible to boredom in their jobs because they are intelligent and driven to achieve, and over time, that boredom can grow into burnout.
5 Tactics to Prevent Burnout
Fortunately, preventing burnout isn’t difficult — especially if engineers view burnout as another problem to solve. Here are a few easy and effective solutions to ward off burnout, even in the engineering fieldTake vacations. As painful as it is to pull oneself away from a tantalizing project, it is critical that an engineer takes advantage of all available vacation days and gets out of the office for some time every few months. Studies show that regular time off improves a person’s physical and mental health and makes them more productive and creative when they return to work.
Evaluate goals. It might be that an engineer’s career goals are too ambitious — or it might be that they aren’t ambitious enough. By reevaluating one’s goals, an engineer might see a new path forward, like enrolling in a biomedical engineering online degree to prepare for a more advanced career challenge.
Pursue a new job. If a current position isn’t giving an engineer all they need to feel satisfied — if they aren’t receiving appropriate projects or appreciation for their work — it is likely time to find something new. Engineers might consider returning to school for additional education to qualify them for bigger and better roles.
Cultivate hobbies. One shouldn’t receive all one’s fulfillment from work. Work isn’t everything; by building a satisfying life outside of work, engineers won’t be tempted to place all their expectations on their performance in their careers. Excellent hobbies for engineers include: fixing cars, woodworking, homebrewing, making music and photography.
Invest in good sleep. As desperate as some engineers are to be the first one in the office and the last one to leave, getting enough sleep is more important than proving one’s commitment to work. Sleep deprivation has myriad negative effects on the body and mind, and burnout is exacerbated by poor sleep. Thus, engineers shouldn’t be afraid to buy the best mattress, blackout shades and any other tools to help them get a good night’s rest.
Engineers’ natures make them more susceptible to burnout — but burnout isn’t inevitable. By taking the right precautions, engineers can avoid burnout and continue producing outstanding work to benefit the rest of the world.
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