How can your organization prevent Burnout Syndrome?
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I was just a shell of myself, going into work and going through the motions. I had so much going on at home and I often questioned if I could be more useful taking care of my kids who were struggling in other ways. I was so cynical about everything and could get caught up in speaking very unfavorably about the management and staff at work. I was becoming more and more angry at the thought of contributing to work that I believed went against my moral compass of doing the right thing.
Tara (quoted above) is experiencing Burnout Syndrome, and she is not alone. More and more individuals today are facing chronic stress. It is thought to affect 83% of Americans (The Stress in America Survey 2019). The World Health Organization (WHO) now includes Burnout Syndrome in its International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-11, a medical provider’s diagnostic reference. One of the more recent and significant contributors to this uptick in symptoms of burnout is the heavy worry parents have about their child’s emotional well-being and associated consequences, such as high risk behavior.
Burnout Syndrome is described as prolonged or chronic stress that is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of reduced ability. While selfcare, self-compassion, and mindfulness are valuable and beneficial on an individual level, new thinking is aimed at the social responsibility of employers to design a workplace that adequately reduces the risk of burnout and promotes a comprehensive approach to well-being in the workplace¾one that is Behaviorally Fit.
How Can Organizations Cultivate A Behaviorally Fit Workforce?
Practice Generous Thinking
Promote a curious attitude. Choose compassion over being right. Put a stop to Group Think. Re-visit your Company’s Ethical guiding principles and consider how you will hold yourself and one another accountable to these ethics and principles.
Expand The Definition of Safety
Creating a safe environment that is stimulating and promotes well-being includes emotional safety, physical safety, spiritual safety, and environmental safety. When people are inadequately aware of how their behaviors impact others around them, this has shown to do harm to others. Prepare your workforce to gain a working knowledge of their own biases, how to stop aggressions in their workspace, and gain a zero-tolerance policy for emotional harm.
Educate Employees on How to Have Difficult Conversations
A strong working knowledge of how to engage in a difficult conversation without it resulting in an adverse event is important to a healthy workforce. Without it, you may be promoting an unintended increase in side conversations, case building, and gossip. Humans are hard wired for connection. We will go to great lengths to find validation. A frequent response to feeling misunderstood or believing we are undervalued is to implode or stiff our feeling down and move on. Imploding is a maladaptive coping skill that can lead to high risk behaviors such as gossiping, over spending, poor relationship with food and substances, chronic arguing, etc.
Remember that culture will eat strategy for breakfast (Howe, 2017).
Create Organizational Values that are aligned with Employee’s Personal Values
It’s one thing to state that your organization values non-judgement, inclusivity, and a no-fault decision tree, but another to implement it in the workspace. Consider how to include Neuro-Diversity (the acceptance and inclusion of those who think differently than you) and operationalize the important practice of celebrating how people think differently. Encourage people to recognize the incredible safety that comes from celebrating a deliberate focus on not engaging in Group Think.
Update Your Organization’s Definition of Work/Life Balance
Consider how your employees are feeling when they head home after work or when they are returning to work on Monday. Are they dreading the office and heading home feeling that they are under-appreciated or not understood at work? With over 83% of our workforce experiencing symptoms of Burnout Syndrome, it is critical to consider how an employee’s attitude and stress level will impact their co-workers, customers, family, community, children, and more.
Becoming a Behaviorally Fit Workforce is a social responsibility. Employees need to believe that they work for an organization that cares about them and their well-being, one that:
• Invests in their learning
• Provides opportunities to do work that makes a difference for something they care about.
• Provides adequate reasoning to believe they are working for an organization that does the right thing and has a bright future.
Learn more about how you can lead the way to helping your organization develop a workforce that is Behaviorally Fit! Visit www. comprehensivewellness.org.