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Webinar Recap: Part 2 Beating Burnout in the Modern Workplace

Network Leader
December 19, 2023
minute read

The following is a summary of a two part webinar series on Beating burnout in the modern workplace. Below, we outline Part 2, which features Target’s Ted Egly and Network Leader’s Nick Petrie. Missed our Part 1 summary? No worries, check it out here now, or save it for later! 

In this Webinar Series, these leadership development professionals discussed factors driving burnout, outlined the causes, detailed the early indicators, and explored how professional networks can contribute to and mitigate burnout. Visit the full webinar recording video for part I here, and part II here

About Ted Egly

Ted Egly is a seasoned leadership development practitioner spanning over two decades defined by leading high-performing and diverse teams, consulting top companies, and currently oversees Executive Development at Target. Ted has adeptly led, consulted, coached, and created leadership programs that have catalyzed transformational change and driven leadership excellence.  

About Nick Petrie 

Nick Petrie is a researcher and speaker on leadership, resilience, burnout prevention, and healthy performance cultures. A New Zealander, with significant international experience, Nick has lived and worked in the U.S., Europe, Asia, The Middle East, and Scandinavia. His clients include Google, Walmart, NASA, Delta, and the White House. Nick Petrie has worked globally across healthcare, tech, banking, education, energy, law and television. He holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University and is the author of Work Without Stress: Building Resilience for Long-term Success.

The brutal truth: Facts about burnout

  • According to a Gallup report in 2020, 76% of employees experience burnout at least sometimes, with 28% experiencing it very often or always. 
  • The same Gallup report stated that employees experiencing burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to seek a different job. 
  • The shift to remote work brought about new challenges, including potential increases in burnout. 
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that stress and burnout cost the global economy about $300 billion annually.

A simple equation: Causes of burnout

Ted boiled down burnout to a simple equation: Too many demands + unrealistic expectations + lack of replenishment = burnout. To this point, Nick reviewed the results from hundreds of qualitative interviews with leaders across many industries.

Individual causes of burnout, ranked in order of frequency:

  • Extreme work ethic
  • Values misaligned with the organization or role
  • Lack of recovery, can’t switch off, no hobbies
  • Identity fused with work
  • Lack of boundaries
  • High anxiety, rumination about work
  • A feeling of deep responsibility

Organizational causes of burnout, ranked in order of frequency:

  • Unsupportive, bad boss, bullying
  • Unrealistic workload
  • Toxic culture, bullying colleagues
  • Lack of resources
  • Feeling unvalued by the company
  • Uncaring work environment

Early warning signs of burnout

  • Decreased performance and productivity
  • Persistent fatigue and exhaustion
  • Emotional and behavioral changes
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Reduced engagement and enthusiasm
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Neglecting self-care

The role professional networks have in exacerbating or mitigating burnout

Ted discussed the importance of genuine, authentic connections to discuss burnout. These authentic connections often advise you to take time off, stop replying to emails after a specific time in the evening, and hold you accountable for shutting down. 

How the Leader Network Diagnostic helps

Nick discussed how the diagnostic highlights where an individual gets the most support from their professional network and visually displays how peer relationships impact their likelihood of burnout. 

Ways to maintain sustainable productivity levels in the face of pressures

Ted discussed the linear and causal relationship of how individual habits impact individual choices that affect organizational outcomes. He outlined the need for:

  • Strategic pause to rejuvenate
  • Strategic pause to reduce (how to lessen the load, how to say No).
  • Strategic pause to reflect
  • Strategic pause to construct intentionally

From smoke to blaze: Three stages of burnout

  • First degree: Heavy period of stress, feeling overwhelmed, but able to work effectively
  • Second degree: Chronic stress, a feeling of fatigue along with decreasing motivation and effectiveness. Moving into “survival” mode.
  • Third degree: Full experience of burnout. Mind and body start to shut down. Simple tasks become unmanageable. Emotions become unpredictable and hard to control.

From self care to deep life changes: Solutions for individuals

First degree: Self Care

  • Creating habitual breaks to unplug from work mode
  • Device-free time in the evening to rest your mind
  • No work in the evenings after a particular time

Second degree: Mindset/Behavior Change

  • Not putting self last all the time
  • Establishing firmer boundaries between work and home
  • Learning how and when to say no without guilt

Third degree: Deep Life Changes

  • Stopping work completely
  • Finding a coach, counselor, or group to help them make sense of their situation 
  • Deep reflection on why they burned out 
  • Creation of a new vision for how to live and work going forward 

Walk the walk: Model the behavior leaders want from their team

Leaders in organizations have a responsibility for setting the tone, both in terms of the way they perform their work and the way they set work aside. The speakers discussed four elements to consider that set the tone:

  • What are you saying
  • What are you doing
  • What are you avoiding
  • What are you measuring

How burnout affects high performers

During Covid, the demand for excellence and results rose significantly, adding to the stress on individuals to achieve and sustain elite performance. Ted noted how many individuals strategically plan the work side of their lives and under plan the recovery side. For example, he referenced elite athletes who do interval training to maintain peak performance where rest is essential. 

From the trenches: Companies testing various solutions

  • Asana canceled all standing meetings. Teams were allowed to put them back on but individuals don’t have to attend if they find them invaluable. Also, standard hour meetings were converted to 15 minutes for quick stand ups. The results: individuals saved 11 hours per month or 17 days per year.
  • Slack instituted no meetings on Friday and eliminated notifications. 84% said it was beneficial. Set guidelines for calling meetings:
  • What justifies a meeting
  • Who to invite and not invite
  • Implementing norms for saying no

Attention Management: On the importance of “deep work” time

Many individuals work in organizations where they spend many hours daily on shallow work vs. deep work that requires complete focus and cognitive attention. As such, many tech companies have established guardrails to ensure sufficient time for deep work time. Solutions include:

  • Dropbox set hours from 9-1 to be available for collaboration. Other time is set aside for deep work time.
  • Slack limits meeting times to four hours per day.
  • Calendly sets meetings 1-5 PM Eastern to accommodate individuals on both coasts
  • Twilio sets aside one day per month in which there are no meetings.
  • Individuals track and report on deep work time and discuss ways to continue to increase deep work time.

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