It’s no secret that the American workforce is burned out, but I believe we are misattributing the drivers of burnout to simply long hours or external factors like “the pandemic” that we consider outside of our control. When we credit burnout to busy seasons or to remote work or the pandemic, we’re letting ourselves off the hook. Developing an anti-burnout strategy can create a competitive advantage for companies looking to retain talent (burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job). This is one area where the most thoughtful and human-centered companies are in the top 1%. They’re taking responsibility for burnout and making different choices:
- Prioritization: At the root of our inability to prioritize is a fundamental misunderstanding of how trade-offs work. When we believe we can do it all and have it all, we prioritize it all. When we believe there is an opportunity cost to every action, we make better choices for our team.
- Clarity: Burnout is exacerbated when roles aren't clear, managers aren’t clear in their feedback to direct reports, deliverables aren't clear, and the distinction between important and unimportant work isn't clear.
- Technology: Collaboration tools like Slack and email prevent people from engaging in deep, focused work, instead requiring and rewarding constant attentiveness to interruptions. We spend two hours each day recovering from distractions, and it takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus after getting distracted.
- Flexibility: The greater the workplace flexibility, the less the workplace burnout. 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours. 84% of working parents said work flexibility is the number one most important factor in a job.