If you Burn Bright, be mindful of Burn Out
In the current climate, our behaviour may be shaping up the way in which we work or do not. Organisations are responsible under the Health and Safety at Work Act for ensuring that employees well-being in the work place is considered important and valuable.
The reality is though, that organisations typically praise the last person to leave the office, those who work over the weekends and holidays, and in the health sector, it is even deemed acceptable to allow your employees to work even when they are unwell themselves. I have seen first hand an employer accept a sickness certificate for an employee signed off with work related stress, and has continued to allow that employee to work on a weekend, which is not their usual working pattern.
Sure, work requires great effort and at times can require long hours, but rest and relaxation are equally as important. Perhaps your ethos is that stress is part of the job, and that you are expected to work under such pressure, and that the price you pay for that job, within that organisation? However lets again take it back to the reality, which is that too much work with out play is a route to destination burn out. Those of you who are putting in the additional hours with out recognition or even financial remuneration, need to take a serious look at what and whose life goals you are looking to fulfil, yours or at the determent of your own health, someone else. If you find yourself starting to relate to this, then take a step back, pause, live in the present state and start asking yourself some serious questions.
Employee burnout is evidence that the value of a “mental health day” still holds true. You know, the day where you just take a day off for yourself and not because of an unexpected reason that makes you stay home, but is it not slightly concerning that we all give a day a title such as mental health day, and most of are unlikely to take that day to dedicate our time to our psychological and emotional care. We all need to be taking more time to freeze, unfreeze and refreeze ourselves, on a more regular basis. Taking time out in a quiet environment, being comfortable with some alone time, and concentrating on those thoughts, making notes in a journal, can all add masses of value to your emotional well-being.
While both employers and employees know the effects that exhaustion can play, it is not uncommon for employees not to feel comfortable taking steps at work to see to improve their health. As a leader, it’s important to show employees a culture where self-care is encouraged, it is also an important part of leadership taking care of yourself and those around you. If you you start to feel the effects of stress and pressure, this will lead to errors in judgement and errors presenting themselves within your work, they will be in a state where by they can not consider others needs, because they can barely function to assess their own needs. Their level of patience, effectiveness, energy and general health will all start to deteriorate.
This is not uncommon and is known as the "human factor", which is the study of how humans behave physically and psychologically in relation to particular environments, under stress conditions. This is covered in great detail in the book "black box thinking" by Matthew Syed.
Unfortunately we live in a workplace culture whereby being attached to messaging, notifications, emails, calls, alerts, etc. 24/7 is letting other people be in charge of you, and not the other way round. There are groups of employees, and employers using platforms such as wassap and slack, and other such tools which may been deemed as beneficial for swift precise communication, if they are used in that way, but more often then not, one sets up a group and decides how is will be coordinated, with out placing guidelines, with out setting boundaries, as to the nature or the tone of platform use. So much so, that it becomes easy to use this under the false pretence that it is "off record" as it is not on a company email, when in fact it is a written audit-able record, and it is encroaching on peoples personal life, because it is their personal number being used, and their bill that they pay to allow you (the employer or other employee groups) such a privilege of quick and easy communications.
I recommend turning off all notifications on such media, so that you control what you read and when you read it, and then you decide when you are in the right place and head space to be able to respond. Reducing the number of things that drain you of your energy throughout the day will increase your most precious resource – your time. I often have this quote in my daily working "time thief" and this is someone who constantly demonstrates that they do not respect and value their own time, and therefore encroach quite often onto your time, manage these people, as their inability to manage their time and their pressures will quite quickly be absorbed by you.
Self-care is something not typically enforced in organisations but if it employers paid more attention to this, and other aspect of their staff well-being, this would increase the productivity of their employees, would enhance their workplace fulfilment, and in return impact retention, and the bottom line.
Always take care of yourself, and you’ll be able to take care of everything else.