Leaders: The Frontline in the Battle with Burnout

It’s official: Burnout has reached the same buzzword level ranks as Synergy, Deep Dive, and the ever-popular phrase, Customer Journey. The problem with buzzwords is they begin to lose their effectiveness after a short amount of time. But unlike those other eyeroll triggering buzzwords, the battle with burnout is real.

I know what you’re thinking. “I know burnout is real, but not with my employees.” Well, over half of respondents to an Indeed survey experienced burnout in 2021—up from the 43% who said the same in a pre-Covid-19 survey. This means that even if they’re not saying it, employees at your organization are currently struggling with burnout. Why aren’t they saying anything? We’ll get to that in a moment.

Another downside of ignoring workplace health is the organizational costs. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, burnout costs organizations $120-190 billion a year, a rate comparable to cancer, at $172.8 billion in losses a year.

Beating Burnout as an Ensemble

All is not lost, however. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have proven that treating burnout at a team level has been more effective than at an individual level. Our new Burnout Prevention Program was created to give teams the tools they need to work as an ensemble to overcome the obstacles that are commonly leading to burnout in their organizations.

Participants of this fast-paced, intimate program are challenged to step out of their comfort zones to explore the unique attributes of burnout from three different spheres - Self, Ensemble, and Collaborate. Over the course of three, hour-long sessions, participants work within these various spheres of understanding to create a multifaceted approach to managing workplace stress.

Sure, it would be easier to expect your employees to manage their stress levels on their own time, but in a world where burnout is prevalent, leaders must become health intrapreneurs: champions of the kind of behavior change that reduces individual burnout through an organizational lens.

That’s right: Leaders are the best line of defense in burnout prevention!

Leaders: It's Time to Improvise

Burnout doesn’t manifest because employees aren’t working hard enough to prevent it. Burnout is a result of a work environment that doesn’t provide employees with the resources needed to meet their organizations’ expectations. At The Second City, we approach our work with an others-focused mentality, meaning we work hard to provide our fellow ensemble members with the support they need to succeed.

Remember earlier when you were thinking that burnout wasn’t prevalent in your organization because no employee has outright said it so? This could be because their team’s culture lacks the psychological safety needed for employees to voice their concerns without fear of retaliation.

Leaders who aim to eliminate burnout amongst their employees must act by tapping into their inner improviser when searching for the root causes of stress within their organization. By engaging their YES, AND mindset, leaders can approach this work with authentic curiosity and cast aside preconceived notions. These leaders must also LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND their employee's needs, goals, and perspectives, and respond to this information with GRATITUDE.

Yes, And Your Way to a Healthier Work Environment

While Leaders are the frontline workers in the fight against burnout, it must be a team effort. In a world where job stress is cited as an increasing source of anxiety for many, employees must engage in the battle against burnout by learning how to set clear boundaries in service of higher energy, clearer expectations, and increased employee satisfaction.

Creating a shared vocabulary and expectations around boundaries can help employees preserve energy in service of functioning to the best of their abilities. The Second City can help turn your work environment into one rooted in honesty, cooperation, sensitivity, and respect.

The battle against burnout is challenging work, but when Leaders acknowledge their responsibility to take their places at the front line, their entire organization will reap the benefits, both mentally and financially.

Contact us to learn more about how improv can promote affective well-being and prevent burnout.

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