Many researchers and authors advocate that in current times we are experiencing an overwhelm and burnout crisis.
Stress is a response to a perceived threat that impacts every body system.
Some of the common symptoms of burnout include;
- physical pain
- impaired hormonal functioning
- memory loss
- emotional numbness
Is ‘burnout’ something that can be overcome? Many think not… people describe living in its’ shadows. Sadly, there isn’t a magic bullet. Instead, you can embrace individual prevention strategies and engage in ongoing healing practices.
“Feelings of overwhelm may be a dashboard warning light for a large part of the global workforce”
(Bradley & Semler, 2022).
“Line managers influence burnout greatly; by promoting it or preventing it” (Bradley & Semler, 2022).
Studies show that there are personality traits more prone to workaholism and burnout, such as perfectionism. “Workaholics do not get enough sleep, exercise, or leisure time. Furthermore, workaholics have been found to have lower levels of happiness with life outside work, which perhaps further compounds their need to work in pursuit of fulfilment” (Brandley & Semler, 2022).
The field of psychoneuroimmunology studies the processes through which emotions affect physiology, and their studies show how daily experiences impact our immune systems starting with emotional stimuli. Emotions are electrical, chemical, and hormonal discharges from the human nervous system. These influence, and are influenced by, the functioning of our major organs and immune defenses. Stress works to disarm our immune systems, which in some cases can lead to chronic illness.
The latest research is telling us that ironically, the ‘way back to health’ from burnout is better accessed through the body. Many of us, have lost the art of truly listening to our bodies. How often are you still and present enough to hear what it has to say?
According to Bradley and Semler (2022), useful methods for finding your way back to balance include;
- sound (music / sound healing)
- making art
- sharing your story with strangers
- being in nature
The ‘systemic’ story…
It is estimated that the average full-time worker spends between 81,396 and 115,000 hours at work in a lifetime (Gallup, 2022).
The only thing we do more of, is sleeping.
“If burnout pervades in an organisation, it’s telling you there’s a toxic environment here, that it’s not a healthy place to be” (Christina Maslach, 2021).
“Considering generations, 84% of Gen Zs report burnout along with 74% of Millennials and 47% of Baby Boomers, according to the Asana study.
And based on McKinsey research, 25% of Gen Zs, 13% of Millennials, 13% of Gen Xs and 8% of Baby Boomers reported feeling emotionally distressed with low levels of wellbeing.” (Forbes 2022).
In addition, research by Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence across four countries, found workers were dealing with all kinds of issues related to burnout and wellbeing.
- 43% of workers reported being exhausted always or often.
- 42% were stressed.
- 35% were overwhelmed.
- And 23% reported they were depressed
In their last global study, Gallup found that 60% of people are emotionally detached (not engaged) and 19% are miserable (actively disengaged).
Gallup’s disturbing findings:
“Did you feel stress yesterday?” – 59% said “yes.”
“Did you feel worried yesterday?” – 56% said “yes.”
“Did you feel physical pain a lot of the day yesterday?” = 33% said “yes”
“Did you feel anger yesterday?” – 31% said “yes.”
The biggest source was “unfair treatment at work”, followed by, unmanageable workload, poor communication from manager, lack of manager support and unreasonable time pressure.
What is the common denominator here?
Your boss. Get a bad one, and it is highly likely you will hate your job.
How do organisation’s change this grim reality to one where all employees can ‘thrive’ (be engaged)?
We whole heartedly agree with Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallup who says, “Improving life at work isn’t rocket science, but the world is closer to colonizing Mars than it is to fixing the worlds broken workplaces”.
For the rare few who see the state of the global workforce and their role as leaders within it as a priority, they are working hard to create better workplace cultures through; re-thinking / re-creating work, creating belonging, improving leadership and management, encouraging, and expecting more listening, coaching, support, development, and genuine care.
This might also require the active removal of ‘old cultures’ that go against their future vision.
The bottom line?
“Business units with engaged workers have 23% higher profit than business units with miserable workers” (Gallup, 2022).