Burnout–reduced interest and productivity in one’s work caused by overwork–can now be classified as a diagnosable condition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Now, doctors who see patients with 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, can diagnose their patients with burnout.
So, we know that the issue of workplace burnout is very real–but how can we avoid it?
First, we turn to the elusive concept of work-life balance.
Work-life balance can mean different things to different people–flexible work arrangements, increased vacation time, summer Fridays–but, what we do know is that there are important generational differences when it comes to how much we value work-life balance.
Many millennials, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, need more than a paycheck and benefits to feel content. They desire a workplace that is an extension of their lives, and that comes down to one thing; Culture.
Organizations must invest in workplace culture, not only because it’s a way to retain strong employees, strengthen engagement and increase productivity, but because it makes good business sense. According to the Harvard Business Review, psychological and physical problems cost businesses between 125 and 190 billion dollars a year.
One key way to build a strong culture, and ultimately combat employee burnout is through leadership development.
Think about it: The famous phrase “People don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers” rings very true.
Building a culture where employees feel valued, respected, and heard is critical, and requires a real investment in time, money and energy from all leaders in an organization.
I’ve worked in many different cultures, and over time, I have learned what makes me an engaged, energized employee. (Hint, Hint: It wasn’t the NERF Basketball hoop or the free Diet Cokes.)
What keeps me engaged and helps me avoid burnout is my leaders–how they engaged with me, inspired me, allowed me to innovate and achieve success and finally, empowered me to become a valued member of the team, with a voice and a sense of humor.
So, how can leaders start creating positive cultures–and avoid employee burnout?
- Listen. Engage your people in meaningful ways. People want to be heard, and I’ve found that when you bring stakeholders into the process, they are almost always more likely to buy into your mission.
- Invest in your “culture architects”. Purposeful Leadership®, Linkage’s model for leadership development, is based on research which shows that leaders must make five commitments to themselves and their stakeholders to truly move the needle. We must view leadership development as a journey, not a destination. It requires time, support and coaching and must be a priority for organizations that want to improve culture. But, when you get it right, the employee engagement and productivity of your business will be palpable.
Bottom Line: Workplace burnout isn’t an inevitable part of our lives or our careers, and when organizations and leaders make real commitments to creating positive cultures and engaged workforces, we can avoid this costly distraction.
How are you working to build more positive workplace cultures? How do you help your teams avoid workplace burnout? How do you avoid burnout yourself? Tell us in the comments.
Organizations striving for superior results need to develop leaders who inspire, engage, innovate, achieve and commit to leading purposefully. Learn more about Linkage’s Purposeful Leadership® approach and the five commitments that leaders need to make to create greater impact.