The burnout culture is alive and well, are you?

Stress is not something we can avoid, but burnout should be. How are you making sure the latter doesn't happen to you?
By: | May 14, 2020

By Jeanette Bronée, Rethinker, Culture Strategist and Work-Place Wellbeing Innovator.

We have a problem that we have long ignored. We are losing our health to work, and we seem to think that’s normal. We expect stress to be part of work, and it is, but just like any other work-skill, the skills to cope with stress need to be integrated into the workplace for us to change the burnout-culture trend. The old normal is that we hang on for as long as we can, and then leave when we break, only to go back and do it all over again after we recover.

Stress is not something we can avoid, but burnout should be. However, when we expect the outer environment to change before the impact of stress changes, we get stuck because the future isn’t slowing down. We have to.

Now of course the automatic trigger is to try to keep up with the speed of technology, and that’s where we get caught in the “never enough”, be that time or how we think of ourselves. The change we need is to learn more about how to support the human technology, which essentially means we need to rethink self-care at work, so that the new normal is inclusive of our core human needs. If we don’t learn to support what drives us as human beings, we will stay running on survival-mode, instead of shifting into performance and thrive-mode.

Living on the edge of burnout.

I had burned out twice by the time I was 40 years old. And to no surprise. I was young, ambitious and I expected my body to be there for me. I’m not alone in this experience and the numbers tell the story. 7 out of 10 millennials burn out before they’re 40. At a recent keynote I asked the audience in a poll, if they had experienced burn-out and 70% answered yes.

Burnout is probably the most disruptive issue that we have to deal with in the work-culture and yet we don’t really know what to do about it. We think it’s about having more work/life balance and spending more time at home but is burnout really about time?

Of course, hacking time is the immediate solution we can think of when focusing on how to achieve high-performance, productivity and culture benefits and perks when focusing on engagement and talent retention. But is that really addressing what people want?

The challenge is we focus too much on the symptom; burnout. Rather than looking at the root cause of burnout first.

What do people really want?

What people really want is to feel they matter, and we can start by cultivating a Culture of Care®, where people belong and work better because they have the tools, and the permission, to bring self-care with them to work.

It’s about time that we rethink self-care at work, so that we can harness our human advantage because performance today is not about doing more, it’s about being better and it starts with recognizing what really drives us to be at our best as human beings.

The future of work requires us to change the way we think about performance and productivity, because even though time is our greatest challenge, health is the foundation for peak-performance, that can transform the workplace from a burnout-culture running on stress and survival-mode to a culture driven by care, purpose, focus and engagement. Because when we leave our self-care at the door when we go to work, we leave behind our most important resource, our humanity.