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Fighting Burnout in the Field of Finance

Finance jobs can be lucrative and rewarding. However, the finance sector can also be a perfect environment for burnout. And as Financial Times notes, remote work and other pandemic-induced conditions have increased the risk of burnout among finance professionals.

One component of mitigating burnout is developing the right skills for the job. Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in finance can provide the technical and practical knowledge and skills finance professionals need to excel. Still, combatting burnout in one’s everyday life is essential for long-term career success.

Considering the causes, symptoms and methods of dealing with burnout is also crucial for those in upper-level positions in finance. Reducing burnout and improving employee mental health will positively impact the productivity and resilience of any team.

Programs like Murray State University’s online MBA in Finance prepare professionals for such leadership roles by integrating the study of organizational behavior and strategic management. Through this program, managers can become attuned to the intersections among employee productivity, behavior, health and the many factors that lead to burnout.

What Symptoms Signify Potential Burnout?

The WHO identifies three main components of burnout: exhaustion, job-related cynicism and decreased professional efficacy.

Exhaustion may present physically, emotionally and mentally. Cynicism surrounding work connects to feeling detached, apathetic and generally negative toward one’s job. Reductions in professional efficacy are related to feeling incompetent and unproductive in one’s career.

Many symptoms of burnout can arise from these three components. Workers may become angry or frustrated, leading to conflicts. They may feel depressed, anxious and insecure. Symptoms can include illness, forgetfulness, insomnia as well as drug or alcohol abuse.

What Are the Causes of Burnout in the Finance Sector?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Burnout-inducing stressors are common in the finance sector. Professionals in the field often have heavy workloads and executive pressures as well as high performance expectations. As Thrive Global explains, finance professionals “must be on-point with major decisions that can impact the financial lives of thousands of people on a daily basis.”

This “daily basis” often means employees work extended hours. Compensation in the finance sector may be tied to quotas and commission-based pay, driving professionals to put in long days regularly. Plus, finance professionals routinely engage with colleagues and clients around the globe. As a result, irregular hours, 24/7 availability and extensive travel can add stress to workers’ lives.

Given the finance sector’s competitive and performance-driven nature, workplaces may breed conflict and poor relationships. Professionals may further experience conflict from a lack of alignment with their company’s values. These and other factors like remote work can make it challenging for professionals to have a healthy work/life balance, which adds to stress.

How Can Burnout in the Finance Sector Be Addressed?

Harvard Business Review (HBR) emphasizes the importance of prevention and recovery strategies in addressing burnout. If you are experiencing burnout, try consciously identifying what factors surrounding work and life are causing you stress. Then, think about what aspects of those factors you have a degree of control over and can change for the better.

For example, what tasks can you delegate? Can you restructure your work to focus more on fulfilling areas? What aspects of your life outside of work are most important and deserve more focus? How can you prioritize self-care activities that help you feel balanced and healthy?

HBR also notes that “The best antidote to burnout … is seeking out rich interpersonal interactions and continual personal and professional development.” Focusing on social health at home and in the office is critical for developing emotional resiliency and balancing work and life.

If you are a manager, you can prevent and reduce burnout by creating a culture that prioritizes self-care and a healthy work-life balance. Check in with employees and elicit feedback on both stressors and positive motivators. Use this feedback to inform change wherever possible and show employees you care.

Devoting time and even training to self-care and relationship-building during work is also important. Regular breaks for exercise, mindfulness training and opportunities for interpersonal connection promote health, reduce stress and build stronger, more supportive teams. Yet employees must also be encouraged to protect their time outside of work, especially as remote work blurs the line between home and the job.

Reducing stressors and preventing burnout can improve productivity, job satisfaction, employee engagement and retention. Given this, creating a healthy culture and environment for finance workers is key to fostering resiliency for both employees and an organization.

Learn more about Murray State University’s online Master of Business with a concentration in Finance program.

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