BURNOUT-PROOFING YOURSELF, YOUR STAFF AND YOUR ORGANISATION

In this book, I’ve described the research into burnout, how it is caused and how it can be avoided. Along the way, I’ve offered guidance to help you, as the manager or leader in an organisation, to identify and prevent burnout. In this final chapter, I draw together key points in the book to help you see clearly why you need to combat burnout and how exactly you can do so at individual and organisational levels.

An issue to take seriously

“I’ve been burning the candle at both ends; I’m pretty burnt-out.” This is the kind of comment you hear in organisations, and all too often it’s met with little more than, “Yeah, me too.” Burnout can be seen as par for the course, rather than a recognised problem. And beneath the exhaustion touched on in the ‘pretty burnt-out’ comment is a whole host of psychological struggles: cynicism, hopelessness, helplessness, detachment, anxiety. These are psychological issues that are highly damaging to people.

Remember, burnout is classed as an occupational phenomenon, not as a mental illness. It’s the direct consequence of a dysfunctional workplace. This isn’t about an individual being too weak to cope with the regular demands of work; it’s about the person, but also, crucially, their role at work and the culture of the organisation. Burnout is a sign that there are underlying organisational problems - and the organisation needs to address these.

Quite simply, an organisation that’s rife with burnout isn’t a high-performance organisation. How can people be engaged, energetic, passionate, productive, committed and creative when they’re burning out? How can you expect an organisation to thrive when its people are floundering? From poor performance to high levels of sickness and staff turnover, burnout costs organisations a fortune.

So investing time and energy in anti-burnout gives a real boost to the organisation. From the managers on the front line to the leaders in the glass offices, there’s a great deal that can be done to minimise the risk of burnout. The first step: take this very damaging issue seriously.

 
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