Burnout is real, and during Covid it only got worse. A survey by the careers site Indeed in the spring found that more than half of workers said they felt exhausted and more than two-thirds said that feeling had worsened throughout the pandemic.
The good news: the world of work is taking it more seriously.
While Sweden is the only country to recognize burnout as a disease, the World Health Organization added burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019. Research shows the condition is much more complex than a Heavy workload, but companies from Nike to online dating company Bumble recently offered office workers extra time off to support their mental health and tackle burnout.
How to deal with burnout – and prevent future burnout – is a challenge that all businesses are now faced with, as many workers have reached 19 months of working from home.
(Photo: Getty | Maria Korneeva)
Jennifer Moss, author of the new book “The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It”, recently spoke with TBEN’s Executive Workforce Council about strategies that employers and employees can implement to reduce burnout.
“The future of work is here, and that means we need to test new rules,” Moss said.
Burnout must be treated in the workplace
Burnout is not considered a mental illness, but it is a mental health issue and should be treated as such in work environments.
Moss said leaders need to “trust employees and create flexibility” in the workplace. Creating safe spaces, providing safety and psychological resources, and prioritizing employee mental health will benefit workers and business productivity, she said. And any effort made to invest in the well-being of employees will translate into the bottom line of the business, but you have to start at the top. The first task of a leader is to give workers permission to make their mental health a priority.
“The key to [creating] comfort within organizations is allowed to prioritize mental health, ”said Moss.
Her research shows that while the average person says they are “fine” 14 times a week when asked how they are, 19% of the time they are lying.
Asking workers more specific questions to better assess their performance will result in their professional work. Moss says that while most meetings take too long and deal with non-core issues, a 15-minute-a-week meeting between managers and employees can pay off in terms of mental well-being and productivity at work, and it doesn’t. should not just focus on work issues. .
Among the key questions according to Moss, these should be addressed in a short meeting:
- How was this week?
- What were the ups and downs?
- What can I do for you next week to make things easier?
- What can we do for each other?
“It’s so simple,” she said.
Talking about mental health in the workplace establishes open communication and a safe environment for employees to feel connected to their jobs and to their leaders, she says, and also helps employees achieve their goals. It helps leaders better understand what their employees need to be more productive.
“Simple actions performed with repetition are synonymous with positive wellness outcomes,” Moss said.
Stress at work, a new idea of success, and the Great Resignation
More and more companies are worried about the impact of the “big resignation” on their workforce, and Moss said entering burnout and employees’ desire to better connect with their jobs and their lives. values should be part of the analysis of employee retention efforts.
“The hyper use of technology, not meeting people in person who are disconnected [workers] emotionally about what is important to us within the organization, ”said Moss.
The last year and more of the pandemic has allowed people to develop what Moss calls “cognitive recognition” and that means employees are focusing on what matters most.
“This is why we are seeing massive resignations. I want more from my manager, more from my boss,” she said. Many people are making different lifestyle choices than they would have made before the pandemic and defining success in new ways.
In some ways, the pandemic has also dissolved the “us” versus “them” mentality between workers and managers, as organizations as a whole have faced the same challenges, which is positive, Moss said. It should also make managers more willing to be open with teams.
“Leaders should also be transparent about their struggles,” she said. “It is not healthy to remain stoic.
Leaders are exhausted too – “exhausted leaders leading exhausted teams,” Moss said, referring to the name of a talk she is giving. She added that her interventions in organizations show that most managers don’t really know what their direct reports are doing given how busy they themselves are.
The transparency of 15-minute meetings, “constant communication,” is what keeps teams from being sent “off-track,” Moss said, and “it changes inefficiencies that reduce workload, reducing workload. ‘burnout”.
Leaders also need to know how to direct employees to resources. Businesses are prioritizing mental health due to the pandemic, but many organizations have had mental health resources for years and have not taken advantage of them. Moss said it’s important for leaders to communicate about mental health programs and resources available to employees and shouldn’t think they need to be a mental health expert to do so.
Moss said what she learned from interviewing managers is that they are often concerned about having a conversation with workers on the subject without being an expert in mental health, and “that has closed “.
“I keep telling them that you are not supposed to be a mental health expert, but you are supposed to know where these mental health experts are in your organization. You are an intermediary,” Moss said, adding that this also extends to knowledge of community resources. . “Managers just need to be able to point people in the right direction.”