We all experience stress. But sometimes, like a leaky pipe that eventually bursts from pressure, the stress turns into burnout. Regular stress and burnout exhibit many of the same symptoms, such as exhaustion, anxiety, and trouble sleeping and eating. But where stress feels temporary, burnout feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. You feel empty and used up. You can’t concentrate. You get no pleasure from activities you used to enjoy. You may feel disconnected from people you love. Burnout has many causes, such as marriage problems or caring for an aging parent. Work burnout is especially common. According to Gallup, 23 percent of people say they feel burned out at work often and 63 percent feel burned out sometimes. The result is low morale, high turnover and poor performance. What can you do if you’re feeling burned out at work? Here are nine things you can do to help yourself and others find relief:
Human beings, like all animals in communities, are wired to feel what people around them are feeling. It’s an evolutionary trait: When a cave dweller anticipated a threat, the sooner other tribe members picked up on those perceptions, the safer they’d all be. It works much the same today, except the threats aren’t woolly mammoths. Our stresses come from being asked to do more with less. Information overload. Fear of mistakes. Tension with coworkers. Possible layoffs. It’s estimated up to 50 percent of employees view work as the main source of stress in their lives. That means you or the person working next to you is probably feeling overwhelmed. Inevitably one of you will start to feel it too.
In last month’s blog, we kicked off our 20 Years of FISH! celebration with memorable quotes from people who have used the philosophy to improve their lives. This month we explore another great FISH! insight: “To change an organization, you’ve got to change yourself. As I work on myself I find I have a bigger impact on people than when I was trying to work on them.” Rob Gregory, owner, Rochester Ford Toyota It’s tempting, especially for leaders, to try to “fix” people—to “improve” them so they do more of what you like and less of what you don’t.
“Can we talk?” It’s a critical question in every workplace. Whatever the subject, how we communicate builds trust or tears it down. Sometimes, when we have territorial spats or personality clashes, it seems easier to just stop talking. But that doesn’t help. Think about it: Have you ever had a great relationship in which you didn’t talk to each other? When we stop communicating, we fill that gap with our own interpretations, insecurities and fears—in short, what we think is going on. That’s how you create silos and opposing camps. To improve your relationships, shift your conversations. Here are four FISH! Philosophy tips for conversations that strengthen relationships.
Surveys show 95 percent of us think we’re self-aware. Unfortunately, research shows only 10-15 percent of us really are. Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself accurately. It’s understanding your personality, feelings, strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. It’s recognizing how your actions impact others. Psychologists say self-awareness is a foundation to happiness and success. Seeing yourself clearly helps you build stronger relationships and communicate more effectively. You’ll make wiser decisions and be a better leader.
You can’t say the F-word at work. That’s right . . . fun. Psychologists say fun is a basic psychological need, as important as being loved. But many people believe fun and work don’t mix. Even at ChartHouse Learning, home of The FISH! Philosophy, we go to great lengths to emphasize Play is more than fun. We substitute words such as enjoyment, lightheartedness and positivity. We explain that Play is a mindset that stimulates fresh thinking and creativity. But wherever Play is happening, fun will show up too. Rather than avoid any mention of fun, why not try to understand what it actually looks like? A survey of 2,000-plus employees by Bright HR, a UK company, reveals how people see fun at work. The study also reinforces how The FISH! Philosophy builds a foundation for fun.
Listening makes real communication possible. In a workplace that values listening, people feel safer to suggest creative ideas and bring up problems that need to be addressed. Information is less likely to be distorted as it travels through the organization. People are more likely to feel supported and respected, improving teamwork and morale.
One of the biggest business buzzwords today is “authenticity.” After centuries of simply hiring people to complete tasks, organizations are inviting them to bring more of themselves—their personalities, emotions, humor, style—to work. What’s driving this trend? Studies say the more you can be yourself at work, the higher your job satisfaction, level of engagement and performance. Customers like being served by people who are genuine and relaxed, not scripted. Millennials, especially, want authentic workplaces and leaders. Used to sharing their feelings on social media without fear of judgment, they are less interested than previous generations in conforming for it’s own sake and hiding their individuality.
Accomplished. Entitled. Ambitious. Impatient. Compassionate. Self-centered. Team-oriented. Job jumpers. These are some of the wide range of terms used to describe Millennials. Born between 1982 and 2004, Millennials will soon be the largest generational group in the U.S. workforce. Millennials have their own generational distinctions, but they also share several important values with the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who preceded them. A report from IBM’s Institute for Business Value showed similar percentages of all three generations want to make a positive impact at work, help solve social challenges, work with a diverse group of people, be part of a successful organization, do work they care about and find work-life balance.
High-performing organizations invite people to bring their “whole selves” to work. That means all their passion, personality, joy, excitement and creativity. It also means their grief and fears. These “dark” emotions are as much a part of life as happiness is. We all lose loved ones. Marriages end. We battle serious illnesses. We worry about our children and our ability to support them. Sometimes we lose hope that things will get better. Some people respond by bottling and burying their sadness and fear, especially at work. That’s what John Wayne would do, right? It feels productive, but over time these trapped feelings can lead to anxiety, depression and disease.