As leaders, we can start thinking about doing these five things for ourselves and our teams to avoid burnout.
I moved back to NZ on Christmas Eve 2019 and hit the ground running. I’ve been house hunting twice, bought an apartment, a car, and re-established links with friends I haven’t seen in a couple of years; whilst working. I was burning the candle at both ends for sure.
And then COVID happened. I am sure most people are sick and tired of hearing about COVID related stuff, but it struck me that we have gone through, and in many countries, continue to go through, is the greatest disruption of a generation. This disruption has transcended business, home life, family life, and well, just about everything. And it’s taken its toll.
COVID created a lot of issues because people treated it like another business problem and started sprinting towards trying to solve it. This was exacerbated by the psychological windows of lockdown and Levels which bound the temporal concept of our experience. The reality is that people are still running and experience burnout. But they are trying to run a marathon at sprint pace
I have been discussing with colleagues and clients how they are feeling and many have said they aren’t sleeping well and are over-tired. They are putting on weight, using alcohol to ‘self-medicate’, eating junk food because of the long hours and not really feeling like they are in control of their lives at present. Many are still trying to work out how to adjust to the new expectations of working from home and feeling like they need to work longer and longer hours. All of this is tiring.
I had breakfast with a group of future thinkers I did a webinar with a few months ago and they said much the same. People are absorbing their commute into the working day. They aren’t moving around as much due to the endless zoom meetings. Self-care was deprioritised whilst home-schooling and remote work became the priority. The result? People are really fatigued. The adrenaline rush of COVID has abated, to be replaced by chronic fatigue and burnout.
This pattern of working is not sustainable for companies or employees. The long term wellbeing consequences are even scarier if leaders don’t act to help themselves and their people:
The pool of people I am connecting with are mostly leaders. And if they are struggling, how do you think their teams are feeling? My guess is pretty similar. After all, life doesn’t discriminate when it comes to these types of things.
So then the next question is, what can leaders do about this? Korn Ferry wrote a great article using the oxygen mask analogy. Focus on sorting yourself out before you help others. But as leaders, we can provide some clear guidance and permission to our teams as they might not have the presence of mind to cope right now.
Thanks for reading!
Want to continue reading? You can find our latest blog on Blending Synchronous and Asynchronous Leadership Development Experiences here