Which transformations are eradicating burn-out?

The prevention of burnout is something that baffles many organisations.  In order to recognise the danger signals , the prevention of burnout involves tackling two vital areas :

1)      The individual’s capacities

2)     The organizational environment


Individual Capacities

>    Building self-awareness

It is an ability to widen one’s attention to label your thoughts and emotions and recognize your patterns, in noticing when you’ve been hooked by your thoughts and feelings.  The first step in prevention of burnout is the ability to accept them, in responding to with an attitude of acknowledgment, curiosity, openness and compassion.

>   Being aware of our impact on others

Gain awareness about how your behavior, emotions, expressions ( tone of your voice, body posture,…) affect others.

>   Keeping ourselves in good shape emotionally, mentally and physically

>   Planning

Sometimes it is not possible to make all the changes we need in order to feel we are successfully managing our work stress and demands. This is where the ability to construct a plan of action comes in handy. If we are able to formulate this plan with the relevant milestones we will be able to track progress and also have the ability to slowly take more control of our daily work situation. Coupled with the regulation of emotions, this also allows for choosing responses that might reap benefits much further down the line.

In the same vein, « Hogan Injury », one of the largest legal firms in California, gives some tips to keep your stress at work at a manageable level :

  • Communicate.– A burden shared is a burden lifted. The simple act of talking to someone who you trust about stressors in your work can help you. You don’t need to find someone who will fix all your problems for you, what you need is someone who will listen. Try to cultivate a reliable support system inside and outside of the workplace.
  • Start getting healthy.– People tend to overwork themselves when they are under a lot of stress in their workplace. They think that working through the stress will help them, but this could only worsen the situation. Try to make time to do physical exercises; physical exercise help produce endorphins which can elevate your moods. A healthier body also means that you’re equipped to handle stress better. Eating healthy can also help you manage your stress. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help boost your mood.
  • Manage your time.– A schedule of your daily tasks can help you become better at stress management. If you don’t feel like you’re behind schedule every day, you won’t be feeling too much stress. Do not over-commit yourself and learn to say no if you know that you won’t be able to handle tasks. Prioritize urgent tasks and responsibilities that you don’t like doing since this means that you have the rest of the workday to improve your mood.

Source on https://www.hoganinjury.com/excessive-workplace-stress/

The organizational environment

The “behaviour” of organisations is another key element in prevention of burnout. Like individuals, organisations can also be seen as organisms which have their own identity, values, judgements and behaviour. The major shift required is that the company needs to accept that they have a sense of responsibility concerning the care of their staff.

The company needs to accept that they have a sense of responsibility concerning the care of their staff

What does this mean at a practical level?

>   Making space for feelings

As humans, we have internal reactions, feelings and emotions throughout the day. Having a healthy outlet to express this is important for our mental, physical and emotional health. If there are built-in mechanisms within our working day to express these then the individual will feel more supported by their environment. This can also lead to less built-up frustrations and allows the organisation to identify any underlying issues or concerns at an early stage.

>   Identifying and supporting needs

Difficulties, uncomfortable feelings and emotions often point to an unmet need. This can help the organisation work with the individual to identify any needs that the organisation might be able to support. Of course, sometimes these needs might be something the individual would need to pursue at a personal level, like psychotherapy. However there might be a need for more training, coaching or peer support, which the company might be willing to provide.

>   Importance of taking breaks

Many scientific studies have shown that taking regular breaks from work activity builds resilience and improves performance. This could take the form of a 10-minute break with no screen time, a longer walk outdoors or a short break to connect with your colleagues. However in order to take a proper break any conversations should avoid work-based topics. The company needs to support and encourage this activity rather than see it as a time-wasting exercise.
Of course, if there is a feeling that certain individuals are abusing this principle then an individual conversation with the person is a wiser way to deal with this instead of penalising the whole workforce by discouraging breaks.

>   Timely response to concerns and needs

Staff need to feel that their concerns are addressed in a timely manner. Of course there will be instances when this does not occur, but these should be exceptions rather than the norm.

>   Peer support

A peer-based support structure should be available. It is far easier for colleagues to spot a staff member who is in danger of burnout. Furthermore, employees are more likely to be more open about their difficulties and struggles to their peers rather than their bosses. For this to have the best chance for success, the spaces for discourse first need to be established and the regular practice of sharing feelings and emotions and needs have to already be in place.

Employees are more likely to be more open about their difficulties and struggles to their peers rather than their bosses

>   Recognition and positive reinforcement

Healthy recognition and positive reinforcement need to be part of the organisational structure. This can take many forms rather than simply being a financial reward. Sometimes offering a staff member a day off or an alternative choice can empower them to select a reward based on their personal need.

In summary, it is evident that these supportive organisational initiatives can enhance the development of the individual capacities, thus resulting in better health, less burnout and lower absenteeism. This can also build better working relationships and lead to greater understanding, support and collaboration amongst individuals.

The Pulzz programme creates a base of psychological safety by introducing rules of engagement that promote interactions that are supportive, respectful and favour collaboration and co-creation.  Pulzz supports healthier and more supportive work environments and more human connection between individuals both at work and in our personal lives.

 To learn more, get in touch with olivier@pulzz.be or go to www.pulzz.be