Image of woman with head between her legs expressing exhaustion and showing signs of burnout at work.

Photo by Verne Ho on Unsplash

Did you know that only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged? In the United States, that number is a little higher, with 35% of workers describing themselves as “enthusiastic” about the work they do. 

It’s sad to think about the number of people who spend their days doing unfulfilling work. The effects on their health and overall wellbeing are real.

Almost 80% of American workers experienced work-related stress in 2021, according to APA’s Work and Well-Being Survey. A closer look at the data shows that:

  • nearly three in five employees reported lack of interest, motivation or energy at work
  • 36% said they felt cognitive weariness
  • 32% reported emotional exhaustion.

Employee burnout causes measurable losses for employers, too. Each year, in the US, companies lose up to $450 billion by failing to re-engage unmotivated employees. 

Many companies have designated programs to keep employee morale high. The Great Resignation has prompted them to take even more initiatives to address this burning issue – and alleviate it.

Is that enough? Time will tell.

Regaining motivation at work: start with small things

You’ve probably been through times when things were rough at work. Maybe you’re going through such a time right now. The insights below will help. 

Read on to find out how these founders, CEOs and marketing pros recalibrate their efforts and find balance at work.

Sarah Noel Block, Tiny Marketing: “I aim for little wins.”

Content marketing strategist Sarah Noel Block talks about losing motivation at work. Quote in white text on dark blue background.

“I do two things when I feel overwhelmed and my motivation begins to wane. 

First, I aim for little wins.

Recently, I was feeling pretty frustrated, so I started focusing on SEO and gave myself little competitions. How fast can I get this article to rank? How quickly can I grow YouTube subs by revising the SEO? The little wins reinvigorated my excitement for what I do. 

Second, I find new projects that get me so excited I can’t sleep at night because I’m so busy planning. When you can’t get an idea out of your head, it’s a good sign that you should test it out. That excitement you feel about the new project will overflow into the rest of your work, too.”

Sarah Noel Block, Founder of Tiny Marketing

Iris Iordanoiu, ZeroBounce: “Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback and advice.”

Picture of ZeroBounce junior QA analyst Iris Iordanoiu with text quote referring to avoiding burnout at work.

“When things seem to be stagnating at work and I feel like I’m losing enthusiasm, it’s clear that I need to change something in my routine. So I try to change my habits. 

First, I scrutinize my daily schedule and see how I could plan my days better. Many times, we lose motivation because we’re stressed and overwhelmed, and reducing our stress brings great relief. 

Also, I surround myself with people I can learn from and who can help me see things from a different angle. Getting another perspective leads you to different approaches. So I don’t hesitate to ask for feedback and advice.

Above all, I believe in the power of positive thinking, so I always try to train my mind to think that way. Good things happen when you fill your mind with good thoughts. There are times when a simple walk in nature fills me with good energy and helps me regain my motivation.”

Iris Iordanoiu, Junior QA Analyst at ZeroBounce

Eugene Woo, Venngage: “I remind myself that life and work are an infinite game.”

Picture of Venngage CEO Eugene Woo on dark blue background. White text quote on regaining motivation for your business.

“As a CEO, I deal with setbacks all the time, and learning how to regulate my emotions is important.

I have several strategies — the first is physical. If I’m really down, it can be hard to even think sometimes. So I go out for a swim, a run or a session of yoga. I do get what people call the ‘runner’s high’ after one of these physical sessions and it usually helps.

The other strategies are more mental. I often remind myself that life and work are an infinite game, where my goal is not to ‘win,’ but to continue playing. If I’m still alive, and able to do the work I enjoy, I’m good. 

Another thing I often remind myself is that I have no control over many things that happen to me and around me. I can only focus on the things I can control, and I will make a list of action items and work on those instead of ruminating on the bad thing.

One final strategy that never fails is to just hang out with my kids and be present with them. That usually gets me out of the rut.”

Eugene Woo, CEO at Venngage

Emily Ryan, Westfield Creative: “Stepping away from screens helps you gain perspective.”

Picture of email expert Emily Ryan of Westfield Creative, with black text on white background on avoiding burnout and getting back motivation at work.

“We all lose motivation from time to time (we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t), but there are some small hacks you can do to regain motivation in your work. 

One of the best things you can do is step away from your work (or your desk). Literally step away. Get outside or go for a drive. Even just walking around the block for 10 minutes can do wonders. Sometimes you also need an entire day away from your work to regroup. 

Especially when things in life or in the world don’t feel so great, stepping away from all screens (including social media) really helps you gain perspective and a clear mind. 

My other go-to for motivation is a great playlist. I created a ‘Mondays’ Spotify playlist that I always use when I have a case of the Monday morning blues, and it instantly lifts my mood. Music can do amazing things for our mindset at work. 

Lastly, motivation can also be found in a quick text to a friend. We should all have that one person on call (or text) that we can reach out to and say ‘Today is hard.’ Sometimes just another friend that can listen is all we need to get back in the groove.”

Emily Ryan, Mailchimp Pro Partner & Co-founder of Westfield Creative

Josh Brown, Helpjuice: “I make time to hang out with people who are important to me.”

Picture of digital marketing specialist Josh Brown of Helpjuice featuring quote on dealing with employee burnout and lack of motivation at work.

“A few things that help when I’m feeling down:

  1. Be more mindful by doing things like meditating or going for a walk with my dog. This allows me to appreciate what I do have and the things that are going well in my life, as opposed to focusing on the negative.
  2. Make time to hang out with people who are important to me, like my family, as well as communicate with close friends who tend to be upbeat.
  3. If all else fails, immerse myself in something that’s mentally stimulating or physically straining to occupy my mind.

Another habit that helps me regain motivation is that I set goals for myself and then figure out what tasks need to be done to accomplish those goals. 

The tasks are broken down into bite-sized to-do’s that I can tackle within a few hours. I track everything so that when I finish a task or wrap up a goal, I feel some sense of accomplishment and also, prevent myself from being overwhelmed. 

Additionally, it allows me to not feel guilty about taking breaks in between tasks and doing the things that keep me uplifted and motivated.”

Josh Brown, Digital Marketing Consultant at Helpjuice

Uwe Dreissigacker, InvoiceBerry: “This always gets me to focus and get motivated again about my business.”

Picture of InvoiceBerry CEO Uwe Dreissigacker on dark blue background. White text quote on addressing lack of motivation and preventing employee burnout.

“When I lose motivation due to hard times at work, it can get tough on my mind. Sometimes, it can be a development issue at InvoiceBerry. Other times, it’s external factors like customers canceling due to an impending economic recession. 

For years I simply tried to push through it, make changes in the team structure or try different distractions such as sports, meditation, working on my health or taking a holiday. 

However, earlier this year I found my new personal favorite way of ‘distracting’ myself in a productive, relaxing and challenging way. I work on side projects that are purely there to entertain me and teach me something. 

While I understand that the entire world is talking about focus and essentialism and the need to work toward one goal, I realized that my ADD just can’t handle that. I have phases in my year where I need to give my creative genius an outlet and let it run wild. 

Sooner or later, this always gets me to focus and get motivated about my business.”

—Uwe Dreissigacker, Founder and CEO of InvoiceBerry

Many thanks to Venngage for illustrating this article.