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Paula Davis: Beating Burnout at Work


Paula Davis

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Kelly talks to resiliency expert Paula Davis about her new book, Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold The Secret to Well-Being and Resilience.

You’ve written a book about burnout in part because you experienced burnout when you were practicing law.

“Where I ended my burnout is not where I started with my burnout. When I first started my burnout, it was more like I'm rolling into work 20 minutes later than I normally would; I’m not going out to as many lunches with colleagues; and not having as many Friday night beverage sort of outings and things like that. And where I ended with my burnout is that I was getting panic attacks almost every day.”

And you can’t just take a few days off to solve burnout, right?

“What we know from the research is that you can take a Friday off, you can go on vacation and people will feel better because they’re outside of the work environment. But then you bring them back into the work environment and usually within a couple of weeks, they bounce back up to their pre vacation burnout rate. So you're just giving a bandaid with those strategies, you're not providing any sort of real solution.”

Something that surprised me in the book was that the evidence shows that an individual approach to burnout is less effective than an organizational approach - which seems counterintuitive.

“It does seem counterintuitive, especially with the burnout conversation, because we think intuitively as burnout being an individual problem, that's how we see it expressed. And really what I like to tell people is that burnout is the individual manifestation of a workplace culture or a systemic issue. So it's something going on within the system or their culture that is creating and resulting in an individual feeling this sense of exhaustion and cynicism and of lost impact.”

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