Ebbf member Serge Thill was invited to Radio 100,7 together with a local government expert to talk about burnout and what people and organizations can do to address this frequent symptom of today’s increasingly stressful and often meaning-less working environments.
The conversation highlighted how the admission of burnout was a taboo for two reasons: . for organizations because they do not know how to handle it. . for people because it purports an image of weakness “I am not strong enough” For both of these reasons we don’t like ot talk about it nor do we want to admit that we might be part of a burnout situation.
Serge Thill mentioned how both individuals and organizations do have a certain influence on this risk, some more than others
for example we may not enjoy enough time to enjoy and educate our children because we have four jobs. As individuals we can make wiser choices regarding the things that we do professionally.
Young people make their professional choices depending on their chances of landing a job and not because it responds to a specific purpose or passion they may have. As a consequence many people are in occupations that they are not interested in, or in places that do not fit with their talents or passions, places where they are not making a difference.
An interesting article by Harvard Business Review’s Gill Corkindale was addressing the fundamental issues behind the extreme consequences of burnout: the series of suicides that occurred in France a short time ago. In that article she highlights
Research for the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) came up with nine workplace stressors including heavy workloads, lack of control, poor communication, role ambiguity, job security, and lack of management support
So what should be the way forward? Serge’s ideas, mentioned on that radio program, were to act on a personal level and at an organizational level.
“as an individual let’s encourage opportunities to think about questions such as – what am I deeply attracted to, what corresponds to my motivations and my values? We need these moments to stop and think specially because the world is changing so fast. If we look back to just ten years ago, we would have never dreamt of such a fast evolution and rapid interconnectedness. For this reason deciding now on the career that would ultimately be right for you is quite ludicrous. It is rather an approach of setting a direction for your path, have that direction and the boundaries of that path be set by what is truly important to you and then walk that path. It is impossible to know now, where that path will lead you in ten years from now, but it is certain that it will lead you in a direction that will avoid the dis-alignment, disenchantment and burnout increasingly faced by so many.”
Serge’s suggestion at an organizational level was
“be aware and act on the responsibility of creating a work environment that answers deeper questions of meaningfulness, creating an environment and a broader purpose that drives your staff. By creating those aims financial gains which are the imperative of a for-profit organization will “almost magically” materialize thanks to more motivated, creative and committed people. People who your stakeholders can trust. And by “purpose” we mean answering the question: how we can we create value for the community and for the world? How can we become useful and ultimately necessary for our stakeholders? So focusing on values and on the best way to act on those values and effectively communicating those key drivers to old and to new partners in the company whilst helping people develop their potential is the ultimate solution that will move your people and your partners at the opposite end of any burnout situation.