Can I get fired for burnout?

Common fear of burned out folks: being laid off! It’s true that when you don’t perform, it may be risky. And there’s a financial consequence if you lose your job. How to best deal with this?

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One friend wrote to me recently, completely in panic. She is a government official. In burnout, she is fearful of being laid off without unemployment support.

But can you be fired for burnout?

Normally no, you can’t. However, your employer can fire you for…low performance!

How to avoid being laid off for low performance due to burnout? The question is complicated and can only be resolved on a case by case basis.

For some cases, it might be necessary to tell your boss about your burnout as the real reason of your low energy.

Why it’s so scary to tell your boss about your burnout?

I understand if, like me before, you are not comfortable sharing with the whole world about your burnout. Below are some common reasons:

Maybe you have fear of being judged about the capacity of resilience.

Maybe your work environment is not open enough for these kinds of conversation

You don’t want this story of burnout follow you in your C.V for future jobs

Or simply because you feel antipathy towards your boss to whom you might attribute the source of your “suffering”…

But… Hiding your burnout can make it worse

Indeed, I have never told my boss that I was in burnout. I believe that it was a mistake.

Last year, when I started to feel overwhelmed, I was so scared of showing it. I tried to hide the fact that I was tired. I did my best to still present myself as a good performer (as before).

I asked my boss to cut down my job to 50%, but with the reason to take care of my kids.

But you got it, impossible to hide such a fact when you are exhausted. Continuing to try my best in extreme fatigue, I just broke down. While waiting for the time of 50% which did not come yet, I felt in sick leave.

As you can see in my case above, trying to hide your burnout just make it worse.

What are the good reasons to be open about your burnout?

In the end, I doubt that one of the reasons why you got burned out was either the intent to deliver beyond the expectation or the willingness to serve others too much.

So there were some “good” reason behind your burnout that you can “sell”. The best strategy is, to be honest, and allow yourself to be vulnerable.

If I could do it again? Well, I believe that I could have had the courage and more confidence in myself to know that it wasn’t my fault that burnout happened.

Telling about your burnout can prevent being laid off

Be open about the reason why you can’t perform as well as before can help. Here are a few reasons:

Your boss can lay you off for low performance. But it would be less legitimate from his or her part to fire you because of burnout (it’s more sensitive, believe me!)

You can both together find better work arrangement to help you better recover

The fact that you recognize that you need help can already be healing

In his article about “A realistic plan to tell your boss about your burnout”, Steve Errey suggested excellent ways to deal with this difficult moment.

My last advice would be, most of all, stay positive. If you can strongly believe that things will always work out the best for you, they will definitely do!

Oh, I forgot, my last question to you is: Do you still like to stay in that job anyway?

Read more:

Burnout: How to restart if I don’t have any passion?

Burnout myths and facts

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