Social support is key to preventing executive and employee burnout
Employee burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion usually caused by prolonged stress.
It is hard to be an engaged employee when we feel we have nothing left to give. Having a support system of friends, colleagues or loved ones can mitigate the impact of constant change or stress. When we feel isolated or unsupported we have less capacity to “bounce back” and stress can easily overwhelm us. When are exhausted we have less capacity to focus, innovate, collaborate or perform at an effective level. Disengagement and burnout occur when we feel overwhelmed, isolated and unable to meet the constant demands. As the exhaustion persists we begin to lose interest and the motivation required to perform.
Employee burnout is increasing as a byproduct of the always-on digital workplace. There is often an expectation that we should use our devices to multitask and be available 24/7. Multitasking has a high cost on productivity, it is exhausting and requires substantially more energy to switch between tasks. This always-on state often disconnects us from actual human beings as we become distracted by (and tethered to) our devices. Burnout reduces productivity and saps our energy, leaving us feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful.
The disconnected workplace leads to the disengaged workplace
This need to belong is so important that Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement survey has a number of questions that speak to potential connection challenges in the workplace:
- In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
- Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
- At work, do my opinions seem to count?
- Do I have a close friend at work?
Employee burnout is becoming a more common phenomenon in the workplace, but it is a mistake to treat it as a personal issue rather than as a broader organisational problem.
Build engagement through social support and humanity
One ways to prevent burnout in the workplace is to make compassion a habit. The rise of stress in the workplace has a lot of it has to do with uncertainty in the world, and the constant changes in our organisations. Reconnecting as people helps reduce isolation, loneliness and the feeling of disconnection that saps our resilience.
When we feel like we belong, our opinion matters and we are part of a team our ability to manage stress and change increase. Research has demonstrated a direct link between social support at work, lower rates of employee burnout, and greater satisfaction in the workplace. Those who feel isolated or disconnected are far more likely to burnout at work and become less productive. Team building, coaching and mentoring, engaging values, a common sense of purpose, social responsibility programmes and employee wellness are some of the programmes that can help increase connection and engagement.
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