Did you know that 76 percent of employees experience workplace burnout? According to Gallup, three out of every four people struggle with feelings of emotional and physical exhaustion. Many factors can lead to burnout, but we can learn how to identify and prevent it. Whether you’re a busy entrepreneur caring for yourself or looking after a team, it’s essential to understand the internal and external factors that impact mental health. The Innovation Women Speak! Webinar Series hosted a panel of six burnout experts to discuss handling burnout for yourself and your employees.
When you search images of “workplace burnout,” you’re met with images of people tearing at their hair and rubbing their temples next to a tall stack of paperwork—seemingly on the brink of combustion. In reality, burnout isn’t so clearly identifiable. Many people are good at hiding, or masking, their internal struggles.
Audrey Holst, founder of Fortitude and Flow, explained that the highest performers often experience burnout and leave a company without any explanation: “People [are] often… hugely downplaying the mental effects that their work is causing.”
Keep an eye out for signs of employee burnout. Do they have a shorter temper than= usual? Do they frequently express frustration and difficulties maintaining work-life balance and prioritizing tasks? It’s crucial for leaders in the workplace to proactively detect instances where employees become ineffective, overburdened and disengaged before they reach a state of complete burnout.
It’s all about the brain… and the rest of your body.
Panelist Julie Anderson, neuro-transformation expert and certified brain health coach, works with corporate leaders, teams and powerful women entrepreneurs to help maximize their life, relationships and business’ greatest asset: their brain!
Anderson emphasized the connection between proper brain function and optimal cognitive abilities, stating, “If your brain isn’t functioning correctly, you can’t think correctly.” When you hold a negative mindset, your ability to work productively, think logically and effectively cope with burnout becomes compromised.
Burnout prevention involves full body awareness. Holst emphasized a holistic approach to the body, saying it “starts from the top down.” Throughout her career, Holst has focused on reminding individuals of the importance of self-care for their well-being. “A lot of the symptoms that we talk about with burnout are felt physically, but very often folks will suppress these feelings.” Inevitably, they reach burnout.
Root causes of burnout
Dr. Sharon Grossman is an executive coach and keynote speaker for associations and Fortune 500 companies, helping them to control results and avoid burnout. When helping clients, considers personality types and has identified three types of people:
- Thinkers, who can be seen as perfectionists and stress over minor details
- Feelers, who are hyper-empathetic, putting too much mental strain on the needs of others.
- Doers, who overload themselves with work to maintain constant productivity.
While each of these individuals brings distinct advantages to the workplace, it is crucial to acknowledge that they also carry unique factors that can contribute to potential burnout. By understanding and addressing these individual differences, Dr. Grossman aims to provide tailored support to help mitigate and prevent burnout among her clients.
To better understand these three personality types, read Cool Casts for Entrepreneurs – Decode Your Burnout.
Revive and re-energize
Finding meaning and purpose is vital in combating burnout. Clinical psychologist and personal energy strategist Dr. Sandra Lewis highlights that burnout often stems from physical, mental, emotional or spiritual exhaustion: “Cultivate the inner resources you and your team members need to make the impact you desire. Evaluate the give and take in your relationship with your work. How does the work give back to you? What brings fulfillment and boosts your creativity?”
By living from “the inside-out,” individuals can regain happiness and reignite their passion for work and personal life.
Sometimes, we need to be selfish.
In her current role at the Watson Institute as a teaching faculty member and business advisor, Vanessa Zamy has been responsible for teaching team management courses to a cohort of social entrepreneurs in Georgia. Zamy works with clients to help them prioritize their personal needs and understand that putting others’ needs before your own can add unnecessary stress. When we recognize and embrace our needs, our lives are more enjoyable. This, in turn, will cause other people to enjoy our presence.
Drawing from her experience as a burnt-out employee, Zamy recognizes that many work-related challenges stem from corporate social factors. She highlights issues such as a lack of boundaries, disregard for employee feedback and unapproachable leaders. “Employees are just trying to deliver great work and not get fired,” Zamy said. She explains that it’s the leader’s role to create an environment where open conversation is welcomed. In a space with open communication, managers are more likely to detect signs of burnout in their team.
Leading by example
Leaders should consider employee engagement levels and whether the workplace environment or culture requires adjustments. Stress management training, ensuring regular breaks and encouraging time away from desks and screens throughout the day are crucial to supporting employee well-being.
Aileen Axtmayer, career coach and corporate wellness speaker, advises workplace leaders to lead by example and “walk the talk.” Managers need to be mindful of their own burnout and avoid perpetuating conditions that contribute to burnout among their employees.
Burnout is a huge issue affecting a staggering number of people in both their personal and professional lives. To prevent burnout, a holistic approach considering the brain, body and individual differences is key. Finding meaning and purpose, prioritizing personal needs and fostering open communication are vital steps in reviving and reenergizing individuals and teams.
For the full webinar discussion, click here to access the recording.