Prioritizing the well-being of our people is no longer a nice-to-have goal for an organization; it is now a significant factor in attracting and retaining top talent. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report, roughly 7 in 10 employees are struggling or suffering rather than thriving in their overall lives. This statistic may not be all that surprising, considering the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased and introduced many stressors in all our lives.
Many workers juggled full-time jobs alongside remote learning for their kids and suffered extreme isolation. These and other increased work and life stressors led to an overall increase in employee burnout. According to Gallup, in June 2021, 74% of employees said they experienced burnout on the job at least sometimes.
Burnout is not someone who is simply overworked or exhausted. According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy. Burnout is not a medical diagnosis but can lead to anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, alcohol dependence, etc. If you seek clarification on what you or a team member is experiencing, it is best to consult with a mental health professional.
Now that we have identified what burnout is and is not, what causes the feelings of burnout? According to Christina Maslach and Michael Leiter’s study, Six areas of work-life: A model of the organizational context of burnout, there are six areas in your life in which you can experience imbalances that lead to burnout.
Excessive overtime, workload volume and time pressures can lead to feeling chronically overloaded. To help reduce workload, we must plan and prioritize our workloads, delegate tasks, say no, and let go of perfectionism.
A perceived lack of control or feeling like you don’t have a say in decisions that impact you professionally can affect your well-being. Many people felt a perceived lack of control over their lives and jobs during the pandemic. With the shift to working from home, more people felt like they were working 24/7. When you feel that lack of control, take a step back and try to understand what is causing you to feel that way. How can you shift the system?
Compensation, recognition from both supervisors and co-workers, and opportunities for development and advancement all play into our rewards. We all want to feel rewarded for the time and effort we put into our jobs. If you feel like you are not being rewarded accordingly, you will likely feel like the investment is not worth the payoff.
It’s essential to identify which rewards would make what you are currently doing worth it and whether you have an opportunity to receive more of these rewards in your current work environment.
It’s crucial to have support from your team, coworkers’ social support and a sense of belonging at your organization. To help increase the sense of community, ask your coworkers how their day is going or send a quick email telling someone you appreciate them. Take time to evaluate your individual engagement, but also remember you can’t make others improve relationships if they don’t want to.
Equitable treatment, having policies that match consequences to behavior (think disciplinary action or promotion) and having the organization meet expectations it sets all contribute to a perception of fairness at work. If you feel that there is a lack of fairness, start by speaking up. Sometimes, individuals are unaware of their biases.
If your personal values mismatch those of the organization, your motivation can suffer. As individuals, our ideals and motivations tend to be deeply ingrained in ourselves and our organizations. If you have strongly held values and those values of the organization differ, you may feel a sense of burnout and a lack of belonging.
Often, burnout isn’t just about your people. It’s about the company culture. In that case, learning to say no, practicing yoga or journaling won’t solve burnout within your organization. As leaders, it’s on you to build a strategy and culture that supports employee well-being and helps prevent burnout.
Do you need help with your firm’s hiring and talent strategy?
Boomer Talent Consulting can help you get clarity on your firm’s most critical talent objectives and create a go-forward strategy suited to your firm’s unique needs. Schedule a discovery call today to begin implementing an organizational structure that is positioned and accelerating into the future.
As a Project Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jacqueline plans, executes and manages the people, resources and scope of many of our firm’s projects, programs and events. Her primary focus is on managing projects for IT Consulting, Strategic Planning and Talent Consulting. In addition, Jacqueline works closely with leadership to oversee the company’s human resources by managing hiring, onboarding, training and development and overseeing our Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). She also supports our Allyship for Diversity commitment at BCI, which seeks to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion within Boomer Consulting and the accounting profession. Jacqueline also works on the strategy and development of our eLearning initiatives.