Workplace Relationships
Productivity through people
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Engage The Burn!!!

The last month, WHO classified ‘Burnout’ as an "occupational phenomenon" and I have had many conversations with people about their experiences of this shockingly common workplace stress.:

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to:

physical and emotional exhaustion

cynicism and detachment

feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

When in the throes of full-fledged burnout, you are no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level. However, burnout doesn't happen suddenly. You don't wake up one morning and all of the sudden "have burnout." Its nature is much more insidious, creeping up on us over time like a slow leak, which makes it much harder to recognize.

What differentiates ‘burnout’ for me from when I had depression, was the cynicism associated with this condition. I still isolated myself, but this time became angry and irritable about the ‘perception of teachers in the media’ because I felt were society’s scapegoat! My blood would boil as another headline commented on ‘what teachers need to be doing’.

As I moved on from all that, as I pieced myself together and grew stronger - I also grew wiser! I realised just how much to blame I had been, due very much to the condition, but also to the way I had been led to believe we need to be in a workplace.

“Get a job, put your head down, work hard and you’ll be rewarded!”

I had been told.

And that’s what I had done - and look where it got me!

As I educated myself in how workplaces can do better, how individuals can harness the power they do have I became aware that many companies are actively working to combat burnout and they don’t even know it!

How are they doing this?

By looking to ENGAGE!

All the techniques of engaging your staff…creating belonging and human connection, giving employees and authentic voice, creating a culture of trust, eliciting and acting on feedback, developing intrinsic motivation by aligning to purpose…all counteract burnout!

According to this research, by increasing employees’ engagement levels, organisations can expect an increase in performance of up to 20 percentile points and an 87% reduction in employees’ probability of departure…

The Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) recently estimated that the cost of staff turnover in Australia is in the order of $20 billion. AHRI also found that staff turnover rates in Australia are on the rise. AHRI estimates the cost of replacing an employee is at least 75% of the employee’s annual salary and may be as much as 150% in some cases.

Employees who use their strengths on the job are more likely than others to be intrinsically motivated by their work — simply because it feels less like work to them, or as Daniel Pink says in his book “Drive”, the Sawyer effect. In a study of almost 50,000 businesses in 45 countries, Gallup researchers discovered that workplaces that used the strengths of their employees saw sales increase by up to 19% and profits by up to 29%.

Gallop also discovered that Australian businesses are loosing an estimated $70 billion due to lack of employee engagement!

So instead of waiting for staff to burnout, instead of hemorrhaging money on presenteeism, staff turnover and sick pay - invest in engaging your staff and not only will you be actively stopping burnout, but you will be increasing the ‘flow’ of work and your productivity! That’s gotta be win / win!

Jo O’Donovan is the founder of Workplace Relationships, based in Melbourne. She works with companies to increase their productivity through focusing on their culture, people and relationships. Jo has a particular passion for improving the mental health of employees through developing the human connections within organisations and her new online course on Mental Health In The Workplace can be accessed here.

Jo O'Donovan