Employee burnout: 5 complexities and effective solutions

Lost your mojo, empathy, and sense of humour? Dread Mondays and can’t concentrate? It’s highly likely you may be experiencing burnout. It is rife. An increasingly stressful life with no way to burn off steam has left lots of us feeling like pressure cookers about to blow. With the increased use of technology and social media during the lockdowns, our brains are overstimulated and emotionally thirsty.

However, have you ever noticed someone using inverted commas when they say the word “burnout”, even if it’s related to themselves? It’s a word that is met with cynicism and shame.

1) Pushing through the cynicism and shame makes tackling this complex problem even more challenging than it is when it stands alone with no judgement attached to it.

2) One difficult element of burnout is that we don’t tend to see it creeping up on us or our teams until it’s too late. It can take you by complete surprise, which is why dealing with it early can be challenging.

3) Unlike tiredness, it’s a chronic emotional and physical fatigue. Emotional fatigue takes far longer to recover from and often requires a new mindset to work and our challenges, as well as interventions from the workplace. Overcoming the shame associated with burnout can take a long time and causes a delay in dealing with the root of the problem.

4) The quickest way to get over burnout is to leave your current job. However, not dealing with the shame associated can also make you susceptible to experiencing burnout again.

5) In my experience. People (including myself) want a quick fix, we want this pain to go away fast. We tend to push back on any suggestions that we could be working and thinking differently. This is totally normal, as we literally can’t see the wood for the trees when we are in this much pain and stress. We are unable emotionally to helicopter up and look down at our situation with zero judgement.

Solutions

Our Burnout Strategy was centred around the concepts of recognise, reverse, and build resilience. We divided it into two parts:

1) The company responsibilities

2) How the RiMployees can help themselves.

The combination of company intervention and employees empowering themselves is a powerful one. An unbalanced approach will not deal with the root problem or will fail to prevent a reoccurrence of burnout.

  • Recognise: In our quarterly Pulse Survey, we included a question on burnout. These results were shared openly at a People Success Town Hall. We have had multiple meetings, interviews, team sessions and coaching sessions where we simply listen and acknowledge where people are and how they are feeling.
  • Reverse: There has been extensive work done on job and process design. We have secured approvals to recruit many new roles this year and next.
  • Reverse and build resilience: A budget was approved for us to hire an expert in the area to deliver an interactive webinar.
  • Reverse and build resilience: Why take your holiday allowance when there is nowhere to go? It’s essential for your mental wealth to switch off from work and allow your brain to rest. We have been encouraging RiMployees to take holidays consistently throughout the year regardless of COVID restrictions.
  • For more individualised support, we depend on our Employee Assistance Programme 24/7 helpline and additional supports. We also funded a book on Resilience for anyone who wanted to get deeper into the topic. There is a coached read along every two weeks that supports the learnings and attempts to find ways to support the attendees to get the new practises to “stick”.

Unfortunately, with regard to burnout, we are learning as we go and trying to reverse long term damage. There are a lot of people to pull out of the river, which can be overwhelming for the HR and Management Teams.

However, we can gain some hope from the fact that for every person we pull out of the river, they will help us pull out more. Soon there will be more of us on the shore than in the river.

Onwards!