Burnout is impacting every company, position, and industry. With 90% of the workforce experiencing burnout in the last year, you can no longer afford to ignore this epidemic. It’s affecting teams, leaders, and the whole organization…even you.
Even if you’re not the one in burnout, it still impacts you.
Think of it this way. How do you feel the next morning when you don’t get quality sleep the night before? Grumpy? Groggy? Foggy? Impatient, irritable, unfocused? Lack of sleep impacts your perspective, attitude, how you respond to others, and how you react to situations.
The same thing happens with burnout. It doesn’t stay self-contained.
When a team member, let’s say Burnout Betty, has burnout, it impacts how she leads, communicates, listens, focuses, thinks, interacts, her behaviors, energy, mood and disposition.
It literally impacts everything. When one person is in burnout, it also trickles out to others, because burned out people burn others out.
Even if you don’t have burnout, you’re being impacted by it when someone else does or is on the brink of it. You have the power to do something about it.
What can you do?
- Start a dialogue—Begin talking about burnout is the best place to start. Even though burnout is rampant in the workforce, there’s still some stigma around it. People often fear, if they admit they have it, what will others think, do or say. Will my leaders think I can’t do my job? Will they take away responsibilities or will they lose trust in me?
If Burnout Betty (BB) isn’t focused, she becomes distracted, unproductive, and making more errors. She will do the same work multiple times, miss deadlines or forget to meet a client. Those are best case scenarios. BB will easily cut corners leading to cybersecurity attacks, safety issues and possible injuries.
When BB misses deadlines, makes mistakes, or has to redo work, how does that impact you? You might have to stay longer, do some of her work, or maybe your work gets pushed back waiting on her to get her part to you, which means missing dinner with your family, being absent at your kids’ activities, or not meeting your deadlines.
Lean into your storytelling skills. Share your burnout story with BB. When you were in it, what led to burnout in your life, and the strategies you implemented to move past it.
When people are in burnout, they tend to pull away and isolate themselves. When you tell your burnout story, they will start to engage. The more you talk about burnout, the more it reduces this stigma. In the process, you allow others who are experiencing it to not feel alone and to know that someone, somewhere gets it and understands. You create a safe place of compassion and empathy.
This lets others know it’s okay to feel burned out. You can still love your job and be burned out.
- Create awareness around burnout—Burnout doesn’t discriminate. It’s impacting your people. The more your team knows what to look for and what to do to prevent it, the less likely they will find themselves in it. Develop a keen eye, because you can’t change something you aren’t aware exists.
Since burnout impacts mental health, Burnout Betty is easily frustrated or irritable, making it harder to communicate or interact with her, because others don’t want her mood to affect them. One Burnout Betty, Negative Nancy or Toxic Tim can bring a dynamic team to a halt.
Talking to BB can leave the most positive person in a negative state, because she doesn’t listen or she’s in a bad mood. So, every conversation takes longer than it should, which means less time for you to tend to your daily tasks.
Build a task force of people who want to be the eyes and ears in your organization in regards to burnout. They can gather information, ask questions to BB and other team members, and start creating a strategy to combat this epidemic. Then take the information they gather, and do something now to help them prevent it.
This allows BB to know that she is being heard and understood and that she matters. One of the biggest qualities people want in their company is to know they matter. When BB knows she matters, she feels supported, knowing she will get the help she needs to combat burnout.
Hint: Time off is great, but vacation won’t cure burnout. Once you create awareness around it, share with your people day to day strategies that work to help alleviate burnout.
- Implement a burnout program—This is the key, fundamental element. Talking about it is a great beginning, but it’s imperative to do more. The only way to prevent and address burnout is to be intentional and strategic with it. Workplace wellness programs aren’t enough; 97% of them don’t specifically address or help with burnout, which is also why 80% of employees aren’t actively involved in wellness programs.
As a leader, you have to do your part to help your people with burnout. If you want long term results, your organization MUST implement a continual program (not a one and done) to help people like Burnout Betty with burnout and others to prevent it.
A long-term strategy is where the magic happens with burnout. Burnout is a slow crawl, and working through it is multi-layered. Whether it’s an online course, bootcamp or Train the Trainer certification, burnout training is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s imperative if your company wants to keep their top talent and create a happy, thriving workplace and culture.
The most successful burnout programs have these key components: accountability, support, encouragement, and Q&A.
Burnout doesn’t go away on its own. With most industries incurring staff shortages, it’s up to you, as a leader, to invest in your people if you want to keep them. Since the #1 reason why people leave organizations is due to burnout, it’s a huge opportunity for you to end the burnout epidemic by starting the dialogue, creating awareness and implementing a burnout program in your company.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
What will you do to help your people end burnout?
About the Author:
Jessica Rector, MBA, author of the #1 best-selling “Blaze Your Brain to Extinguish Burnout” and nine other books, helps organizations, leaders, and teams Say Yes to eradicate burnout and enhance mental health. As a burnout trailblazer, her research is used in her consulting and speaking and often shared on her podcast, “The Say Yes Experience.” For how Jessica can help your organization and team, go to www.jessicarector.com