This is a guest blog written by Duncan W Wallace (Facilitator, Coach, Consultant & Trainer).
As we all head into winter from this unprecedented year, I have been working with multiple organisations about how to avoid Burn Out. The graphic above outlines the results from a recent survey, and – for me – the number one answer is no surprise.
The Maslach Burnout Inventory offers a fairly good definition:
“a decreased sense of personal accomplishment and increased sense of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization”
The core proposal from this work, is that organisations should include personal wellbeing time within their working time.
We know that there is more fatigue involved in switching to remote online working methods. We know that organisations have been over booking their time and ‘zooming’ from one meeting to another, without accounting for travel time like they would have had to. We know that some people are finding that efficient, whist others are also finding it a struggle. We know that going through significant change takes a toll, and a lag can build up within the very workforces who have ‘gone for it’, ‘met the challenge’, ‘been agile’, ‘adapt rapidly’.
And now, unsurprisingly, the cracks are beginning to show.
The need now it to act with wisdom and consider more sustainable working practices. To continue to recognise that everyone’s experience of lockdown is different and that compassionate, ethical leadership is required. We need to continue to listen well, build trust and work strategically.
We also know that the deep changes in the economy have only just begun. In fact, those who create strategy in the health and social care sector are beginning to know about the ‘Long-Covid’ effect, where the types and quantities of health and social care long-term conditions are beginning to be quantifiable as the disease spreads through our first winter. This isn’t all doom and gloom, yet you cannot deny that we are only just beginning to understand the impacts on our organisations.
So here are 4 actions you can take:
Build in personal wellbeing time… call it thinking time not ‘duvet days’.
Modify the strategy to be realistic to the actual capacity you have now… don’t expect further bounce… there won’t be a normal, may not even be a new normal that was being predicted 4 months ago.
Make sure everyone takes proper holidays? Keeping going… working through… all this is only an option for the very very privileged.
Engage with your staff about structural options. Work together to discuss changing contracted hours or adjusting the flow of work so that EVERYONE has work that is meaningful, motivational and purposeful. Now is not a time for work to feel or be slavery.
These come from the action research in workshops and the executive coaching I’m doing with CEO’s across Scotland. The ranking exercise in the photograph comes from the recent Managing Time. Harness Energy. Avoid Burn Out events, and as I reflect on it, the findings fit with much of the primary research about how to get the most from your business and make it truly sustainable. Contact me if you want any help finding the very practical tools for changing the culture of your organisation.
Finally a heartening word from one of the leaders at my Avoiding Burn Out Workshop was:
‘Working with my team through this will help take us navigate through the turbulent time and take us beyond ‘How are you?’