Network Leader’s Nick Petrie recently hosted an interactive webinar on workplace burnout. This is a summary of the webinar, the full recording can be watched and accessed at any time here.
In the wake of the pandemic, Nick and his team discovered that intense workloads led individuals to sacrifice their well-being for productivity, resulting in burnout due to longer hours, skipped breaks, and neglected self-care. They interviewed diverse professionals, including Navy SEALs, CIA agents, athletes, coaches, surgeons, yoga instructors, priests, and business leaders in search of commonalities and patterns. Specifically, the goal was to understand why individuals entered and remained in an “energy debt.” Individual contributors:
The interviews also revealed many organizational factors leading to burnout, debunking the simplistic idea of one cause and one solution. With an endless workload and a culture rewarding relentless work ethic, employees often unknowingly slide into burnout. The constant demand for more work overshadows signals of burnout, like hair loss or detachment. The body signals warning signs continuously, but leaders, driven by a relentless mindset, ignore them. In a counterproductive cycle, decreased productivity prompts employees to work harder, leading to a critical burnout point. Organizational level causes include:
Establishing boundaries is crucial for team well-being and productivity. Encouraging conversations about work boundaries at team, department, or organizational levels is vital, ensuring individuals can defend their calendars and balance productivity and personal well-being. The first focus is on work-life balance, with teams assessing their ability to manage boundaries effectively. Teams experimented with offline time and recognizing the challenge of constant connectivity. Some organizations introduced core hours and fostered collaboration during specified times while enabling uninterrupted deep work outside these hours.
The three stages of burnout illustrate a continuum from manageable stress to severe physical and emotional exhaustion. These include:
For individuals experiencing burnout at different stages, Nick recommended the following:
Nick emphasized that the solution to burnout is not rest but growth. In answer to an often-asked question, Nick said it is possible, even advisable, to short circuit this Burnout Growth-Curve before descending to The Breakdown phase.
Nick reiterated the importance of “who” is in your personal network by explaining that most networks are built for your past but not your future. He reviewed the roles your top 15 contacts influence and contribute to your performance and growth. As a part of this discussion, he demonstrated the Growth-Perform-Sustain Dashboard, which maps individual inputs to assess how much time you spend on growth-centric work vs. performance-centric work and the relative risk score of burnout.
To avoid burnout Nick explained how one client working in a particularly stressful company managed to avoid burnout by scheduling:
Nick explained how vital it is to switch your mind off work matters to focus elsewhere for recovery. These recovery elements can take the form of:
He described these elements as integral to finding your “opposite world,” a place where you are free from work concerns and can let go completely.
Interested in reading more? Check out Part II of this series as we dive a little deeper and feature a very special guest.