Burnout is a growing problem for the modern workplace, and for those who have suffered tragic loss through widowhood or divorce, the problem is further compounded. The global burden of burnout through decreased productivity, retention, absenteeism, and compensation costs is expected to cost in excess of $300 billion annually, as such, the World Health Organization has reported “burnout” as a global pandemic within the next decade.
Burnout comprises three central components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (or detachment), and (lack of) personal accomplishment.
Psychologists Maslach and Golembiewsky theorize that of the three, it is estimated that emotional exhaustion is the most noticeable and often the primary symptom of burnout. Emotional exhaustion can also be viewed as depletion of an individual’s emotional resources, typically characterised by statements such as “I feel emotionally drained from my work, and used up at the end of the workday”. For widows, emotional exhaustion, especially in the early days following a spouses death can be overwhelming.
Maslech points out there are approaches at the micro level (employee) and macro level (organizational) that can be targeted to decrease the incidence of burnout. Approaches at the micro level – can be adapted quicker, be more successful and individuals can personalize or tailor the most effective approach based on their particular circumstance.
Here are 4 Ways to Improve Your Resilience at Work:
1. Get a Clear Understanding of Organizational Impact
A clear understanding of whom your work is helping and how it improves the lives of others will contribute to improving your resilience at work. Knowing the real impacts and consequence of work is critical to a renewed sense of commitment and renewal. This works for all types of professions – from sales to engineering.
Companies that are highly effective at both communication and change management are 2.5 times as likely to be high-performing than those that are not, according to Towers Watson’s 2011-2012 Change and Communication ROI Study Report. This also means that companies that are great at showing employees their impact on clients, the community and the broader society – are higher-performing.
2. Keep a Journal of your Achievements
One way to become more in tune with the impact of your work is to keep a journal of achievements. In addition, write down what you’re grateful for each day. Several studies have shown that gratitude makes you happier (and wealthier). Take special note of the “small wins” – not just the successes that colleagues and managers give you special recognition for. Gratitude journaling is a scientifically proven way to overcome several psychological challenges. Several great inventors/leaders kept journals and diaries. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton kept Journals, and these weren’t only for achievements – they were also for ideas, flashes of insights and for solidifying and codifying their early learnings.
If you’re not one to write – or you are simply too busy, jot down your achievements somewhere. I once had a colleague (still my friend today) that kept an evergreen excel spreadsheet at work. Each day she would populate it with all her achievements at the end of the day. Not only did she come out at the end of the year – looking far more productive than anyone else in the organization – she was awarded multiple prizes for her work in just the one year she worked on our team.
3. Practice Constant Self-Renewal
In a fast pace world – it is critical that both organizations and employees, constantly seek to renew themselves. Self- renewal requires that you take a personal inventory to assess areas that need improvement. Self-renewal also requires optimism – to overcome the barriers and challenges in daily life. It also requires a “reset” in personal goals or even the creation of a personal mission statement, that can set the tone for a new direction in life.
Many great leaders are considered great because they did something almost no one else believed was possible — they literally set the direction of progress for generations to come. They didn’t focus on just having a career or a business — they had a vision and a mission. This new vision and mission – can literally transform emotional exhaustion to renewed hope and purpose.
4. Include Mindfulness Exercises Throughout the Day
Research shows our minds tend to wander 50% of the time we’re awake. And when our minds wander, we often start to ponder mistakes or regrets of the past or worry about the future—thereby leading to negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and stress. Since we inevitably spend the majority of our days at work – its a good idea to carve out short periods of time throughout the day to practice mindfulness exercises.
More recently, studies conducted (in 2016) in the UK and the U.S. showed that employees participating in mindfulness training were more likely to show less activity in the regions of the brain associated with anxiety and emotional reactivity when working under high pressure.
In addition, a first-of-its-kind 2012 study of employees participating in the Mindful Leadership programme at General Mills saw 80 per cent of the 500 participants see a positive change in their ability to make better decisions, and 89 per cent feel that they became better listeners.
Google’s Head of Mindfulness has a job description that includes Key Performance Indicators such as “enlighten minds, open hearts and create world peace,” and its ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program is now publicly available to “bring the benefits of mindfulness-based emotional intelligence to your workplace or community.” Its now available to everyone.
Employees can undertake their own mindfulness exercises by taking short walks or simply taking 10 minutes to meditate.