What's the buzz about Burnout?

What is Burnout and why is there so much focus on it right now?


I’ve lost count of the number of articles and other media I’ve seen recently that are featuring burnout and talking about how the pandemic has been responsible for a massive rise in people with burnout.


It’s everywhere but exactly what is burnout?


The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes burnout as, “an occupational phenomenon, workplace stress that has gone unmanaged, manifesting itself through cynicism, exhaustion and disengagement’.

Yep, that describes exactly how I felt and how I behaved back in 2018 before I moved out of corporate life.


It wasn’t fun for me and I’m sure it wasn’t fun for the people working with me…


Maybe they just thought I was crazy.


Burnout is no laughing matter and burnout is not about taking on and juggling too many things. It’s not even about the culture of busyness - another hot topic right now.


And it’s not about the individual.


It’s about the workplace and it’s a problem that starts at the top of the organisation. It’s sustained heavy workloads at all levels of the organisation with no space for proper care for the people in the organisation.


Where I worked, we were constantly being asked to ‘do more with less’.


Multiple restructures and mass redundancies left those remaining with more work but no letup in the speed of delivery or amount or quality of output.


The WHO reports that overwork contributes to the death of 2.8 million people globally each year.

For 3 years I have been working with organisations to help rethink their people strategy and to set up their systems to support and engage at all levels.


Because an engaged workforce working in an environment of trust with quality communication will result in increased productivity and employee retention.


Increasing employee retention has a positive impact on your bottom line and reduces the risk of massive knowledge loss (or even customer churn) when an employee leaves.



The reality is that many companies want a quick fix.


So they call in management consultants, trainers or coaches for a cover-all half-day workshop on communication or 'building a great culture' only to be disappointed when their problems aren’t fixed.


There is no quick fix to burnout or to turning around a culture.

I like to compare it to a person who is embarking on a new health regime.


For any change to succeed it requires a full makeover of how you think and what you do. It’s taking consistent action, being focused on a well thought out and meaningful goal and then taking the small steps to make it happen.


It requires sacrifice and time.


One brisk walk to the health food shop does not make a healthy, fit body.


Reducing burnout is about changing the way you think about how you lead your team.


You may have unintentionally set expectations that have led to burnout in your people.


Here’s a few things you can do now to begin to reduce burnout in your team.


1. It starts with you. As a leader, you need to live the new behaviours. You need to be the model of how it’s going to be from now on and your consistency and conviction need to be visible and rock solid. No sneaking out for a cheeky doughnut. Your people are watching you so they understand the new standards you’re setting. If you slack off, so will they.


2. Consistent and genuine feedback. Creating an environment of trust and engagement is always going to start with communication – clear, two-way communication. Seek feedback from your team about which of your behaviours help and which hinder their productivity. Ask what you can do differently. Listen in order to understand what’s going on in their personal lives too. Maybe there’s stuff happening at home for them that is affecting their ability to be productive or fully present at work.


3. Change your map of the world. Great leaders are empathetic. They can see things from the perspective of others. What seems really simple and logical to you may be all Japanese to someone else. Yes, this takes time that you may think of as wasteful now but think of the time you’ll waste later on recruiting and training someone brand new. If you don’t make time to listen, ask questions to understand, empathise with and engage this team member, it will cost you time, money and resources down the track.


I never said this was easy, or quick. There is no quick fix.


And if one of your team is showing signs of burnout, don’t do what my manager did which was to distance himself from an employee who was falling apart.


It's on you to help them.


If you don’t feel equipped to help them yourself, tell them so.


Tell them that you can see that they’re struggling. And, if they’re open to it, call in a professional coach. If you have an ERP service, invite them to use this. The people on the end of an ERP phoneline are wonderful.


Or at the very least, ask a trusted member of your team to start the conversation.


And if you don’t feel equipped to help, get yourself a coach who can show you how.


It could be that you’re experiencing symptoms of burnout too…..


Burnout kills engagement and productivity. Burnout kills profits and costs you time.


It takes the fun out going to work, running a team or owning a business.


What’s one thing you can do today to reverse burnout in your team?


If you'd like to know more about how you can reduce the risk of burnout in your organisation, contact me for a no-obligation, free consultation.


 

Emma Taberner is a qualified Leadership and Executive Coach, Speaker, Facilitator, author and self-confessed Human Behaviour nerd. With over 20 years Supply Chain industry experience and 10 years coaching and mentoring frontline leaders, she is passionate about helping small business owners and their teams to understand how their behaviours determine their leadership and effectiveness in business, relationships and in life. Emma works One to One, with groups, both face 2 face and online.


When she’s not building future leaders you can find her flying small planes, being in the outdoors, growing her own food and hanging out with her husband of over 20 years.



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