Burnout Speaks Volumes about the Workplace not the People

There is a tendency to think of burnout as an individual problem, that can be solved by doing yoga, better breathing techniques, practising resilience and the list goes on and on. But the evidence is mounting that by simply applying your very own ‘band-aid’ solutions to a fast-paced work environment can actually be detrimental to your health. Given the fact that ‘burnout’ is now officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the responsibility for managing it has shifted away from the individual and towards the organisation. Leaders and managers beware, it’s about time you start building a burnout prevention strategy.

The Emotional and Financial Toll

When Stanford researchers looked into how workplace stress affects health costs and mortality in the United States, their foundings were incredible: a net spend of nearly $190 billion (close to 8% of healthcare cases) and nearly 120,000 deaths each year. Worldwide, 615 million suffer from depression and anxiety and, according to a recent WHO study, which roughly translates into an estimated $1 trillion loss in productivity levels.

If those statistics haven’t scared you yet, think about the fact that companies who cannot afford healthcare plans for their employees, which ultimately leads to very high turnover, low productivity. In high-pressure companies, healthcare costs are 50% higher than in any other firm. In a recent study done by the American Psychological Association (APA) has been revealed that burned-out employees are 2,6 times as likely to be looking for another job, 63% to have a sick day and 23% have more chances of visiting the emergency room.

When experts still struggle to define burnout, how can we ask the managers and leaders to prevent it?

It’s Not Me, It’s You

According to the foremost expert on burnout, Christina Maslach, social psychologist and professor emerita of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, we are attacking the problem from the completely wrong angle. She is worried about the new WHO classification in the IDC11. “Categorising burnout as a disease was an attempt by the WHO to provide definitions for what is wrong with people, instead of what is wrong with companies,” she says.  “When we just look at the person, what that means is, ‘Hey we’ve got to treat that person.’ ‘You can’t work here because you’re the problem.’ ‘We have to get rid of that person.’ Then, it becomes that person’s problem, not the responsibility of the organization that employs them.”

To further prove Maslach’s point, a survey of 7,500 full-time employees done by Gallup found that the top 5 reasons for burnout are:

  1. Unfair treatment at work
  2. Unmanageable workload
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from their manager
  5. Unreasonable time pressure

The list above clearly demonstrates that the root causes of burnout do not necessarily lie with the individual and that they can be averted — if leadership would start their prevention strategies much faster along the way.

 

Ask Better Questions

When investing in burnout prevention strategies, it’s best to narrow the company’s efforts down to small, micro-pilots, which mean a lower budget and less risk. It is recommended to start with 1 or 2 departments or teams and asking one simple question: If we had this much budget and could spend it on X many items in our department, what would be the first priority? Have the people vote anonymously then share the data with all of them. Discuss what was prioritised and why and start working down the list. Employees may not have the perfect solution, but they can most certainly tell you what isn’t working — and that is often the most invaluable data.

Organisations have a chance, right now, to fix this type of thing. Burnout is preventable. It requires good organisational culture, better data, asking more timely and relevant questions, smarter (more micro) budgeting, and ensuring that wellness offerings are included as part of your well-being strategy. Keep the yoga, the resilience training, and the mindfulness classes — they are all terrific tools for optimizing mental health and managing stress. But, when it comes to employee burnout, remember — it’s on you leaders, not them.

 

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/managing-workplace-issues/burnout-response

https://hbr.org/2019/12/burnout-is-about-your-workplace-not-your-people

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/28/who-recognizes-workplace-burnout-as-an-occupational-phenomenon.html

Perfectionism: Perils and How to Overcome it

Perfectionism can have a positive and negative impact on a person’s performance at work. On the one hand, it can make you to perform at a high level and deliver quality work. However, it can cause unnecessary anxiety and slow you down. But is it achievable to utilise the positives and keep the negatives under control? What are the techniques necessary to master perfectionism and keep it in check?

It is common knowledge that perfectionists are their own worst enemies. If you identify as a perfectionist person, then you realise that you may have the ability to perform at a higher level than others may can.

Unfortunately, perfectionists know that top performance comes at a cost. They are often experiencing immense levels of stress that affect all other areas of their lives.

It must also be stated that most perfectionists also experience burnout, they tend to get so exhausted mentally and emotionally that they do now want to continue in their professional endeavours.

Even though it may have negative effects, perfectionism is part of the human condition. Every person that has ever existed has had the desire to better themselves, in regards to their own capabilities. Derived from that desire does perfectionism spring, but as stated above, it can be toxic. In a 2007 study done on suicide, it has been revealed that more than half of the people who died were described by their friends and family as being ‘perfectionists’.

Canadian researchers Gordon Flett and Paul Hewitt have discovered that there are 3 forms of perfectionism that are scientifically recorded: self-oriented, other-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism with the latter being the most damaging of them all. Besides the negative impact on a person’s mental health, perfectionism can affect the body as well. Due to the constant stress and dissatisfaction, it can lead to unimagined chronic conditions, back pain and IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) related problems or it can lead to addictions such as drinking, smoking and substance abuse.

What can you, or other people, do to change this mindset? There are many ways in which perfectionists can fuel their drive and ‘control’ their actions.

1. Realistic personal goals and expectations

Recognise that you are already enough and you don’t have to be perfect to continue making progress towards your goals.

By setting more realistic goals, you will have eliminated excess energy that would go towards reaching the impossible, and have a more balanced personal and professional life.

2. Challenging the inner critic and disperse negative thoughts

Don’t let your motivation be the reason you fail. It’s important to use a rewards system and positive feedback to achieve your goals rather than allowing your inner voice to destroy your emotional wellbeing.

Shut down the negativity, amplify your intuition, and allow positivity to drive you on the road to success.

3. Prioritising self-care

Put on your own gas mask before trying to help the person next to you, as they say on airplanes. Engage in therapy, re-connect with an old hobby, continue reading and meeting friends so that you can take better care of yourself and others.

4. Practicing saying no as often as possible

Perfectionists often struggle with saying no to new opportunities due to their high drive, however, setting healthy boundaries is the very thing that leads to sustainable energy.

Stop taking on extra tasks that aren’t directly related to your work so that you can invest in your own wellbeing and continue working on what truly matters.

5. Time off is not time wasted!

It’s easy to look at relaxation as a waste of time when you’re a perfectionist. However, it’s important to remember that sleeping and engaging in light-hearted activities is a healthy and necessary way of refreshing your motivation.

Practice taking time to relax and recharge your batteries so that you can continue pursuing your dreams.

6. Everything will be done in time

You have what it takes to complete any task in accordance with the deadline. Even if it means pulling an all-nighter, you know that you’ll finish the project and it’ll be good by the time you are done.

It is important to use that knowledge to feel more secure when you get overwhelmed, don’t panic because you have all your past achievements to tell you that you are going to persevere.

7. Take breaks and recharge constantly

Instead of thinking you’ll relax after it’s done, go the extra step and schedule some relaxation. Most likely you’re probably a Type A personality who needs to prioritise self-care otherwise it won’t ever happen.

Imagine what your life would be like if relaxation was part of your endeavours.

The sooner perfectionists can adjust their expectations, the more quickly they will get rid of their headaches and enjoy life in a more meaningful way.

 

 

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.inc.com/tom-gimbel/why-praising-your-staff-might-be-the-most-dangerous-thing-you-do-today.html

https://www.fastcompany.com/90394590/this-is-the-negative-effects-of-praise-that-youve-probably-never-thought-about

https://hbr.org/2017/05/why-do-so-many-managers-avoid-giving-praise

Employee Loneliness and its Impact on Organisations

Loneliness is a painful and complex emotion. Loneliness has more to do with a person’s quality of social relationships rather than their quantity.

Loneliness has been studied for decades in psychological literature when it comes to social or personal lives. But how much research is there on being lonely in the workplace? Not a lot, which comes as no surprise.  As awareness about loneliness increases — British Prime Minister Teresa May appointed a minister for loneliness earlier this year, it’s important to understand exactly how people experience loneliness in their jobs. How does it affect their work? How does it shape their relationships with their colleagues? And what can employers or HR departments do to help a lonely employee?

In general, it was discovered that lonely employees tend to isolate themselves, they begin to feel less connected to their organisation’s values, and can be seen by colleagues as more distant and less inclined in discussing both work-related and personal matters.  These findings add to the voluminous research literature showing that the behaviour of lonely people has the effect of increasing their own loneliness. Even though the person may desperately wish to connect or re-connect with others, they see their environment has become threatening. Thus perpetuating a vicious cycle where loneliness leads to greater social vigilance. As a result, lonelier people are more likely to pull away.

In a research study conducted by California State University and the Wharton School of Business which has surveyed 672 employees and their 114 supervisors from 143 work team units have found that “an employee’s work loneliness triggers emotional withdrawal from their organization, as reflected their increased surface acting and reduced affective commitment.” and “The results also show that co-workers can recognize this loneliness and see it hindering team member effectiveness.”  Researchers have concluded that”…management should not treat work loneliness as a private problem that needs to be individually resolved by employees who experience this emotion; but rather should consider it as an organizational problem that needs to be addressed both for the employees’ sake and that of the organization.”

The company’s culture plays a crucial role in expressing the values and norms about the emotions that are allowed to be expressed at work. In our study, we found that a stronger versus a weaker emotional culture of sharing love (e.g. expressions of affection and compassion among employees) diminishes the negative relationship between workplace loneliness and affective commitment to the organisation.

Look for reasons to show your appreciation

Global research shows that people who feel appreciated are most likely to produce the best work. Let people know their value to the organisation, the culture, the team, and to you, as a manager or employer.

If you think workplace loneliness isn’t an issue you need to be concerned about then think again. Healthy workplace relationships are beneficial for employees in many ways. They help people to deal with work-related frustrations and stress, whilst simultaneously encouraging bonding through sharing successes and positive experiences.

However, it seems that employees are getting lonelier and lonelier. Despite the rise in popularity of open-plan offices specially designed to foster interaction and good communication, a recent UK-based study done by Totaljobs found that more than one-third of employees report having no strong relationships at work. As people spend close to a quarter of their lives at work, job isolation can have serious and very complex implications.

The case of cultural fit

If most people in an organisation or team share similar attitudes and personality traits, a person who differs in these respects may start to feel isolated and will struggle to bond with colleagues or even have a sense of belonging.

Another aspect of organisational culture that can prevent employees from forming relationships is represented by the lack of ‘psychological safety’; a quintessential element for effective teamwork. In companies or teams that do not meet the necessary psychological safe requirements, team members do not feel swayed to take social risks, such as revealing emotions, for fear of disapproval by colleagues.

In teams or organisations where a ‘openness’  isn’t promoted or associated with psychological safety, the potential for building relationships tends to be limited; employees are likely to keep to themselves, restricting how much they reveal about themselves to their colleagues.

What can be done to prevent workplace loneliness?

So, knowing what we do about workplace loneliness, what can be done to prevent and reduce it? There are numerous steps that can be taken by employers and employees.

A key approach is for employers to focus on hiring for culture fit. By assessing the fit between candidates’ personality characteristics and the organisational culture, employers can minimise the risk of hiring those who are going to struggle to fit within the company.

Finally, employers can also help to promote workplace relationships through various teambuilding exercises or adopting a transformational leadership style that is based on interpersonal trust. Of course, employees themselves can have a huge impact on loneliness through day-to-day interactions with one another. Unfortunately, is often difficult for employees to open up to colleagues about loneliness, for fear of the admission being met with ridicule and isolation. It is therefore important for employees to help identify any colleagues that may be struggling at building lasting relationships with other members of the team.

Finally, employees should contact their employers or managers if they have any suggestions for improving relationship-building, which in turn will lead to a tremendous increase in employee well-being and productivity.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://good.co/understanding-workplace-loneliness/

https://www.inc.com/todd-nordstrom/feeling-lonely-at-work-it-could-be-destroying-your-potential-heres-what-to-do-about-it.html

https://hbr.org/2018/04/the-painful-cycle-of-employee-loneliness-and-how-it-hurts-companies/

 

Sleep Deprivation and How it Affects Performance

Right after managers and employees have their first interaction, the process of forging their working relationship begins, which is a crucial factor in how they both are going to experience work, how much trust there will be between one another, and how effectively they can carry out assignments.  A new and possibly forgotten predictor in the quality of these work relations is sleep. Sleep deprivation for either the manager or employee or both could make them experience an increase in negative emotions at the workplace. Usually, these emotions are represented by hostility. Everyone reading this can remember at least one time when fewer hours of sleep translated into a short temper at the office. This is a common experience for almost everyone in the workforce and, most of the times, it is directly linked to sleep deprivation due to the fact that fewer hours of sleep impairs the part of the brain that regulates emotions.

Hostility can be dangerous for a new professional relationship. Hostility leads to the feeling of threat and can easily deteriorate the psychological safety of people in every possible context. If managers happen to yell at an employee once, it may not be an issue, nevertheless, if this a common practice in the office, employees may feel that their manager is lacking respect and empathy, hence leading to a weak work relationship.

Unfortunately, today’s business world promotes sleep deprivation as the highest ranking achievement possible. If you’re always busy and cannot be bothered to sleep then you’re definitely on the way to the top. The problem here is that science says the exact opposite, so who do we believe? It may sound tempting to trade away some hours of sleep in order to finish a few tasks, but by doing you may sabotage your own success and health. Perhaps it is time to get some sleep, or else you may face numerous risks.

At Harvard Medical School the Division of Sleep Medicine revealed the fact that short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep are quickly downplayed by the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on a person’s mood, his or her ability to focus and access to higher-level brain functions. Interestingly enough, the negative effects of sleep deprivation are so considerable that even people who drink manage to outperform those without sleep.

Why We Need Acceptable Hours of Sleep

We all know that sleep is good for our brain and new found evidence from the research done by the University of Rochester has provided us with clear evidence on why your brain cells need you to rest. The study states that when people sleep the brain removes the toxic proteins from its neurons (by-products of neural activity while we’re awake). Unfortunately for us, the brain can only do while we’re asleep. Consequently, the toxic proteins remain in the brain cells, impairing our ability to think and no amount of coffee can solve that. These toxins slow our ability to process information and problem solving; it can also kill our creativity whilst catapulting our stress levels and emotional reactivity through the roof.

What Sleep Deprivation Does to Our Health

Sleep deprivation has been heavily linked to numerous serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and even obesity. The lack of sleep stresses us out because our body overproduces the stress hormone when its sleep deprived, also known as cortisol. Excess in cortisol levels has a host of negative effects that come from the damage it inflicts on our immune system. High cortisol in our body results in looking older, due to the fact that cortisol destroys skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.

Sleep deprivation also compromises our body’s ability to metabolise carbohydrates and control our food intake. Sleeping less and less results into eating more and more and also increasing the difficulty in burning the calories we consume. Due to the lack of sleep, our bodies get hungrier much faster and that is done through the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and it also makes it harder for us to get full because it reduces levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin. There is a 30% increase in the likelihood of becoming obese for people who sleep less than 6 hours a night rather than those who sleep between 7 to 9 hours a night.

Besides the fact that it may harm professional relationships, sleep deprivation can also deplete us of the very traits that make us good at our jobs. For example, workplace leaders are known for their charisma and which translates into making employees want to work for and with them. Sleep deprivation saps all of the outstanding personality traits and all we are left with is a robotic, difficult person in its place.

Sleep is a critical part of our wellbeing and without it, we get emotional, stressed-out, forgetful, disorganised people at work. We are more likely to feel helpless and be unable to perform even the most menial of tasks or change perspective when our plans go awry. It’s time we stop encouraging sleep deprivation at the workplace. It’s not doing our career or our bodies any favours.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2017/08/research-sleep-deprivation-can-make-it-harder-to-stay-calm-at-work

https://medium.com/the-mission/sleep-deprivation-is-killing-you-and-your-career-fd33e16ccf7f

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/16762-drunk-on-the-job-if-you-re-sleep-deprived-you-might-as-well-be