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Burnt Out! The Added Layer of Job Burnout for BIPOC Individuals

This time last year, the terms covid, face masks, social distancing, and lockdown were not on society's radar. This year, these words have been included in the top 20 words used in 2020. They have been highlighted and used in high frequency due to the current state of the world. However, these terms only scratch the surface of how the pandemic and current civil rights movement has affected society as a whole - especially communities of color.

On top of unemployment, political activism, tackling voter suppression, and the continuous fight to dismantle systematic and systemic racism; another challenge that is still prevalent is job burnout. According to Mayo Clinic, job burnout can be defined as work-related stress linked to a state of emotional and physical exhaustion. It can involve a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of identity.

Symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Cynicism and critical POV at work

  • Lack of motivation to get to work/starting the work day

  • Irritability and impatience towards work relationships

  • Inconsistent productivity due to lack of energy

  • Lack of concentration and satisfaction

  • Changes in sleep habits

  • Physical changes or troubles (headaches and digestive problems)

Causes of job burnout can be lack of control, unclear job expectations, work-life balance, lack of social support, or extremes of activity. However, in addition to these causes, BIPOC individuals face additional stressors in the workplace - especially in spaces where they are the minority.

BIPOC experience many day to day challenges of being a person of color in society in general. These day to day challenges (racism, discrimination, macro/micro-aggressions, and fear of safety, etc.) have become even more amplified since the increase coverage of police brutality related to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and MANY more.

Even though news outlets have decreased the frequency of coverage, communities of color and especially the black community are still dealing with these stressors. Now more than ever, BIPOC individuals are being highlighted or sought after as a spokesperson in their workspaces. Najoh Tita-Reid, senior executive of marketing reinvention at Logitech, stated on, “Imagine that while you’re feeling all of these pressures, your employer asks you to lead a task force to solve racial injustice at the organization. This is what is happening to many black employees nowadays.”

By far, this is not easy issue to tackle, but some initial steps to avoid or tackle burnout as a BIPOC employee are as follows:

  1. Set Boundaries for Yourself – If you do not feel comfortable acting as a spokesperson, make it clear to your coworkers.

  2. Seek Support- If you work in corporate, some companies have resource groups or “clubs" for niche communities. Finding other BIPOC individuals at work to talk to may help to feel less alone.

  3. Find Time to Unwind – When you are not working, find time to take care of your physical and mental health. Your mind and body will appreciate you for it!

Unfortunately, this is the current reality for so many. It is great that black voices are being sought after, more attention is directed toward diversity and inclusion, racism in the workplace is being addressed, and more unified efforts are occurring with dismantling an unjust system. However, the truth is BIPOC individuals should not have to be the ones to solve these problems within their jobs and because of this, many are facing a new layer to job burnout that does not seem to have an end.


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