This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Burnout – how to spot the signs of Burnout in our uniquely fragmented and changing workplaces, and how leaders can focus on new metrics to increase happiness and engagement.
Burnout can creep up on you.
Prolonged periods of isolation or loneliness have been known for decades to cause an increase in depression and mental health illness, and burnout has been a widely understood end result of a mixture of stress, unhappiness and overbearing workloads.
However, in the post-pandemic world noticing the signs of burnout will only be made harder as workplaces shift remote and workers contend with hybrid or disparate team building, screen-based recognition and changing performance management. Being able to mitigate stressful situations at work where possible is enormously important now, and in the future.
Business leaders have to put processes in place now to mitigate workplace stress. All it takes is knowing what to look for.
What causes burnout?
It’s worth noting that the American Institute for Stress highlights that it isn’t your job that causes stress or burnout, but the person-environment fit.
Your character, personality and work ethic are bound to the environment you work in, rather than the specific job you’re doing, and your action and reaction to that environment are the primary driver of burnout.
It all comes down to the feeling of being in control. The institute quite literally defines stress as having lots of demands, but little control, so it’s wise to bear this in mind when considering the environmental causes behind burnout.
Some people thrive in a pressure-cooker environment with immediate deadlines to hit, others prefer and enjoy a role without the trappings of leadership or decision making.
The clearest example you can give is this: a Police Officer in Inner City New York will not have the same workload, pressures, and yes, stresses, as an Officer in rural Texas, but they ostensibly have the same job. To say, then, that Policing is “stressful” would be generally correct, but in only the broadest and most unspecific of criteria.
How do you measure burnout in Policing if you deal with wide data sets based on the Job alone, rather than the specific environmental pressures Police face? How do you mitigate the differences in stress loads in New York, compared to Texas?
What does burnout look like?
Everyone will react to burnout or workplace stress in different ways: some react physically, some bear the burden mentally, some bury it. Cruelly, its intangibility is precisely why it isn’t seen or acted on more effectively, and when behavioral signs of burnout such as cynicism, isolation or irritability are often seen as “having a bad day” it makes the process of dealing with it that much harder.
Common symptoms of burnout include:
● Depression and low mood,
● Inability to focus,
● Muscle tension and back aches,
● Shortness of breath,
● Heart palpitations,
● Panic attacks.
If Burnout is to a large degree environmentally determined, the simplest and most effective of measures you can take to pre-empt damaging amounts of stress is amending the environment.
You can do this through a variety of ways – what you need to do is focus on your company, your brand and your workplace ethic, and only change what you need to make quality change.
● Improve performance management including reviews, promotions, achievements and recognition by creating team-orientated digital spaces for communal review, sharing of success stories and reward,
● Address individual work/life balance situations with frequent and thorough reviews, focusing on happiness, not productivity or KPI’s,
● Re-establish your social value – do more than lean on AGM’s to celebrate your company, or reward your team. Look at your social net good (to your team, families, communities or wider state or country) and talk about it with your staff,
● Listen. Simply listen to your staff and line managers, understand the day to day strains, the pressures and the problems. Stress is exacerbated when staff feel their management don’t listen or believe them,
● The WHO advises recognition as being a key facet of good modern management – “being appreciated is one of the most important factors that increases motivation and satisfaction as well as health and wellbeing”. Do this often, and make it meaningful.
Harvey Nexus has been created precisely to help companies feeling the added burden of running a business in a pandemic. Our recruitment services are only as good as our lived experience, relevant advice and values. Burnout is exhausting, for everyone involved. We’re here to help.
We’re always on hand, through our mentoring systems and business support, to lend support where needed to workers and businesses in Texas.
Simply get in touch.
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