According to Gallop, burnout is a phenomenon that organizations cannot ignore. A Gallop survey found that ¾ of employees experience burnout – a shocking 76%. As we previously reported, burnout is classified by the WHO as a work-related condition (Can Burnout Be Prevented?). Gallop reports that the root causes of burnout and undue dis-stress are:
- Unfair treatment at work
- Unmanageable workload
- Unclear communication from managers
- Lack of manager support
- Unreasonable time pressures
We would add #6 based on our research:
6. Negative interactions
And the negativity ripples throughout the workplace and spreads to families and external social relationships. It permeates every aspect of life, health, and productivity. All of which detract from well-being, collaboration, and performance.
Unfortunately, the current pandemic situation is escalating the stress, worry and fear for many. And the emotions and worry experienced are often not effectively being addressed. A March and April Gallop survey also indicates that well-being is at an all time low. Many are searching for answers and grappling with what the new normal will be. Employees need to express their experiences and be understood.
We are finding that deep – and safe – conversations are essential for emotional, mental, and social well-being – conversations with compassion, and empathy are crucial right now. Sadly, we hear only a cursory ‘how is everyone’ during the meetings we’ve attended, and usually with no response. Employees know it is a superficial question not intended to elicit a response from anyone.
However, what is more important is the indication that it is not safe for employees to answer, to speak up. When given a safe opportunity, the same employees have plenty to express and to share. It is a healthy, liberating and therapeutic experience – just to be heard – to have a voice.
Managers hold the doorway for employee experiences, the work climate and overall culture. You have all heard that employees don’t leave jobs they leave managers. Our research finds this to be true. Employees want fulfillment, which includes autonomy, support, skills mastery, psychological safety, purpose, and meaningful work. They want to enjoy coming to work, to have a positive work environment, and supportive as well as collaborative work interactions.
They want to,
- Feel valued,
- Have a sense of belonging and acceptance,
- Make a contribution,
- Know that their voice matters and is heard,
- Bring their authentic, whole selves to work
All of these values are often unfulfilled. The issue is that the managers are not provided the skills needed to lead in order to create the environment for fulfillment to happen.
Managers are often promoted for their technical skills with little opportunity to learn leadership skills. Instead they are trained regarding how to manage: performance reviews, timesheets, absenteeism, production requirements, etc. Plus, Gallop also found that managers are juggling immense pressure and stressors such as competing priorities, unclear expectations and unmanageable workloads.
Yet, managers desire the same fulfillment as their employees. Imagine the possibilities if this happened? What would organizations be like if employees and managers were fulfilled, had high levels of well-being, and enjoyed being at work? Just imagine.
And it is possible to cultivate such a workplace. It actually begins by having deep conversations and fostering all dimensions of safety and well-being such as, emotional, social, spiritual, psychological and physical safety.
These can be the levers for meaningful change that reduces stress and burnout and creates positive work environments. A few suggestions during this unprecedented time,
- Make employee well-being your top priority
- Communicate frequently and transparently
- Foster social connections while maintaining physical distancing
- Cultivate leader qualities in managers including how to support employees
- Listen to employee needs and accommodate schedules as needed
- Schedule frequent conversations, including the necessary difficult ones
We hope that these are priorities within your organization. Please contact us if it is beneficial to have a conversation about any or all of the above. We welcome the discussion since the dimensions of individual and organizational well-being & safety are our passion!