Burnout is an epidemic in itself. Here’s how to stop the spread

  Burnout is an epidemic in itself.  Here's how to stop the spread

Burnout is real, and during COVID it only got worse. In a survey conducted by Career Site, in the spring, 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 this more seriously.

While Sweden is the only country to have recognized burnout as a disease, the World Health Organization added burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019. Research shows the situation is much more complicated than it is. a mere workload, from Nike to an online dating company. Bumble recently offered office workers extra time off to support their mental health and tackle the issue of burnout.

How to deal with burnout – and prevent future burnout – is a challenge now that all businesses are tasked with working from home for up to 19 months.

Research by burnout expert Jennifer Moss found that the average person says they are “fine” 14 times a week when asked how they are doing, 19% of the times they lie.

(Photo: Getty | Maria Kourneva)

Jennifer Moss, author of the new book, “The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It,” recently spoke with CNBC’s Executive Workforce Council about strategies, employers and employees to reduce burnout. can apply.

“The future of work is here, and that means we need to test new rules,” Moss said.

Burnout at work must be treated

Burnout is not considered a mental illness, but it is a mental health issue, and it should be treated as such in a work environment.

Moss said leaders need to “trust employees and build resilience” in the workplace. He said creating safe spaces, providing psychological protection and resources, and prioritizing employee mental health would benefit workers and business productivity. And any effort to invest in the well-being of employees will be reflected in the bottom line of the company, but it has to start at the top. The first job of a leader is to empower workers to prioritize their mental health.

“The key to [creating] Relaxation is allowed within organizations to make mental health a priority, ”Moss said.

Their research shows that when 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-urgent matters, a 15-minute-a-week meeting between managers and employees can pay off in terms of mental well-being and productivity at work, and that can only be done at work. should not focus on the problems of.

One of Moss’ key questions 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 very easy,” 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 their leaders, and also helps employees achieve their goals. It helps leaders better understand what their employees need to be more productive.

“Simple actions performed with repetitions result in similar positive well-being,” Moss said.

Stress at work, a new idea of ​​success and great resignation

More companies are concerned about the “big resignation” effect on their workforce, and Moss said burnout and employees’ desire to better engage with their work and their values ​​should be part of the agenda. analysis of employee retention efforts.

“Abuse of technology, offline not meeting people in person [workers] What interests us in the organization is emotionally, ”said Moss.

The pandemic of more than a year has allowed people to develop what Moss calls “cognitive recognition” and what employees mean the most.

“This is why we are seeing massive resignations. I want more from my manager, more than my leader, ”he said. Many people are making different lifestyle choices than they would have made before the pandemic and defining success in new ways.

Moss said that in some ways the pandemic has also dissolved the “us” versus “them” mentality among workers and managers as organizations face similar challenges, and that’s a positive. This should make managers more willing to be open with teams.

“Leaders should also be transparent about their struggles,” she said. “It’s not healthy to be stupid.”

Leaders are tired too – “Tired leaders lead tired teams,” Moss said, referring to the name of one thing. He said his interventions in organizations show that most managers just don’t really know what their direct reports are doing, due to their activity.

The transparency of 15-minute meetings, “constant communication,” which prevents teams from being sent “off-track,” Moss said, and “replaces inefficiencies that reduce workloads, thereby reducing burnout “. “

Leaders also need to know how to direct employees to resources. Businesses are making mental health a priority 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 know what mental health programs and resources are available to employees and don’t think they have to be a mental health expert to do so.

Moss said what she learned from interviews with managers is that they often feared interacting with workers on the subject without a mental health specialist, and “that fired them.”

“I keep telling them that you are not an expert in mental health, but that you want to know where the mental health experts are in your organization. You are a conduit, ”Moss said. . “Managers just need to be able to point people in the right direction. “

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