We Have a Burnout Problem

Apr 20, 2023

If there’s a phrase you’re probably all too familiar with these days, it’s “I’m tired.”

After three years of pandemic-fueled adaptations, always-on remote availability, increased stress, and juggling of work and personal demands without clear guidelines or boundaries, we’re all understandably exhausted and burned out. In fact, a Gallup survey found that nearly 60% of employees report that they are stressed at their jobs every day. Korn Ferry found that even higher-level executives are switching jobs and careers because they’re feeling tired and drained.

Unfortunately, this burnout is having serious repercussions on not only our physical and emotional health, but the health of our businesses, as well. According to Harvard Business Review, it’s “manifesting as decreased productivity and performance, no-notice quitting and workplace conflict” in the workplace.

Clearly, we have a burnout problem. How do we fix it? And, perhaps even more important, how do we avoid this problem in the future by preventing burnout in the first place?

First and foremost, we must adopt the strategy of “proactive rest,” according to HBR. Rest shouldn’t just come after a period of stress or intensity. It should be encouraged regularly. What does it look like? It could be giving PTO before demanding work periods, or instituting days of the week where no meetings can be scheduled. It might involve planning times for wellness checks, or giving mandatory vacation time.

The effective companies, according to HBR, will also offer employees the opportunity to discuss difficult issues or topics without consequences or judgement. Some might even enlist trauma counselors to train managers on how to handle workplace conflict and potentially difficult conversations.

“Over time, well-being is vital to success,” organizational psychologist Adam Grant has said. “Daily exhaustion adds up to long-term burnout. Success can be attained without rest, but it isn’t sustained without rest.”

It’s time we learn not just to rest, but how and when to rest.

What are some ways that you take a break? How do you encourage those around you to rest, too?


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