By: Lauren Baptiste
It’s a new year, and I’m going to bet that things are feeling the same. This isn’t meant to pop your resolutions-balloon, but it’s a reality check. Most of us are coming into hoping that 2020 will be different than the year prior, but the reality is that 2020 will be exactly the same as 2019 unless we all plan to do something different.
In the past year, I’ve spoken with thousands of women from all over the world and the message is resoundingly the same: “I’m stressed out and on the verge of losing it altogether.” Most individuals I come across are consistently working far beyond standard 40-hour workweek, and although they are trying to crush it in the office, they are likely getting crushed.
Burnout is burning me out.
Meet Rayna, 42, Strategic Operations Manager at a multinational insurance firm. After years of struggling in internal roles that weren’t a good fit, Rayna found herself feeling the impact of living in a constant pressure cooker.
Not only was she experiencing the physical manifestation of narcolepsy, neck and back pain, and overall irritability, her energy was incredibly low and found her marriage was deteriorating. This created instability and uncertainty in her life.
Meet Loraine, 52, Founder and President of her own successful CPA firm. Like many CPAs, Loraine has a high-performing, strong-willed, perfectionist personality, which she gives credit to building her empire. When balanced, these traits are assets, but if out of balance, they can be a liability to one’s personal wellbeing.
After six years in her own company, she abruptly left her career. Prior to her departure, she started experiencing shingles and inflammation. “I simply ran out of gas…” said Loraine. Regardless of trying to do things differently, she couldn’t find a way to set healthy boundaries or maintain a healthy lifestyle while working. Her burnout had her doubting her career path.
What do these women have in common? They understand they’re struggling with burnout, and albeit a desire to make it better, they’ve been unable to help themselves. They prioritize their jobs, families, and responsibilities, appear successful on the outside, and cannot invest time or attention in themselves. By not showing up for their personal health and wellbeing, they’re not able to show up 100% for any of the other facet of their life. Friendships suffer, jobs fall apart, and disease enters.
Even with the deepest desire to make a change, prospective clients share that making a change “feels too hard.” They correlate accountability and positive transformation to feelings of “work,” which prohibits forward movement and exacerbates their feelings of stress and overwhelm. Without the support and encouragement from their organization to meet them partway, they feel destined to fail. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common.
[Related: Six Reasons Why Selfish is the New Black]
Ending burnout isn’t for the faint of heart.
As an executive wellness coach and corporate consultant working to eradicate workplace burnout, now’s a frustrating time. Although companies claim they are working at breaking through burnout, they’re not. They’re just not.
My heart breaks each time I hear an employee tell me that they’re suffering in their workplace environment and the employer resources don’t meet their need for personalized stress management and personal development. Even worse is when I’m meeting with leadership or HR teams who are passionate about burnout but can’t find the budget to create supportive programming.
If organizations invest in upgraded technology and perform software updates to optimize performance on office computers, why wouldn’t they invest in an employee’s growth? Seems pretty obvious when we think about it this way.
We live in an agile world and need solutions that give employees the tools they need to thrive. The environment is constantly changing and we need to provide employees the access to resources that give them a custom path for success, catered to their individual needs.
I get it. The market is down; finances are tight. However, for many companies, human capital is your most expensive asset, and not investing in them is further hurting your profit margin.
According to the Center for American Progress, the cost of replacing someone tend to have disproportionately high turnover costs as a percentage of salary (up to 213%). Economist Eileen Appelbaum and sociologist Ruth Milkman found that executive positions have higher turnover costs than jobs with low educational requirements:
Jobs that are very complex and that require higher levels of education and specialized training tend to have even higher turnover costs.
Imagine the cost savings if you took a proactive approach to corporate wellness programming.
[Related: Why Are Women Leaving Your Organization?]
How can we end burnout?
Given the high turnover that we’re experiencing in the market, it’s time to reevaluate whether wellness should stay under the umbrella of HR or move to the front office. Consider measuring the performance of employees not just on how hard they work, but on what they’re doing to improve culture and themselves.
As an organization, you don’t need to know how to create positive impact, but you need to act immediately. Corporate culture is already too far behind what an employee really needs. As an employee, you have a responsibility to communicate your needs and do your best to create a positive environment for those working around you.
As a society, we need to empower our employees and leaders, just like Rayna and Loraine. As Steven Covey says:
Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying.
Finding a win-win solution to reduce workplace burnout is within the realm of possibility in 2020. This year, we can actualize a way to benefit our businesses and simultaneously better humanity, but it requires much more than an inspiring LinkedIn post.
Lauren Baptiste is an Executive Wellness Coach focused on breaking through the effects of burnout. She is the founder of Acheloa Wellness, a firm that empowers ambitious, hard-working women with the tools and techniques to be successful in today’s world.