3 min read

What organizations should actually be doing to end burnout

It's time organizations realize that ending burnout isn't a problem primarily solved by benefits.
What organizations should actually be doing to end burnout
Photo by Sean Pollock / Unsplash

Sustain issue #11 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

Several weeks ago, we talked about how there are four core groups that are responsible for preventing burnout at work.

  1. The government
  2. The company
  3. The manager
  4. The individual

It’s not just the company and manager like we’re led to believe. We as individuals can take a very active role in avoiding burnout at work. And that is what this newsletter generally centers on.

But today, I wanted to zoom out and take a look at what organizations can and should do since the role they play is vital to a world without burnout at work.

Since the data doesn’t exist, here is what I would hypothesize most employee populations look like.


I would suggest that most organizational policies and benefits focus on the far right of this spectrum. It’s the small group of people that are teetering on depression, crippling anxiety, and are in need of mental health resources. It’s an important group and a serious issue where company benefits are rightfully placed.

However, for the large group in the middle feeling fried, it’s not a problem solved by throwing company benefits at it. It’s a problem solved by intentionally building a culture that prevents burnout.

Yoga at work, a subscription to Headspace, a keg at the office, and even access to a therapist don’t do a thing if the culture doesn’t care about running people into the ground.

Similarly, I applaud many companies for recently giving employees a week off to rest and recharge. But that week off ends up being somewhat meaningless if employees come back the following Monday and are expected to jump back into a broken culture.

So, how can organizations intentionally create a culture where burnout is the exception, not the rule. A few starting ideas:

  • Listen and really understand how pervasive burnout is to get a baseline and then be willing to take a hard look at changes that need to be made.
  • Ruthlessly prioritize work that needs to be done by employees. And then actually do it, not just say it.
  • Use IT data to spot risky behavior. Things like how many hours employees are working, amount of working time outside of hours, or on vacation. Then have a scalable way managers can work with those individuals.
  • Company leaders and employees should workshop clear and explicit expectations of what gets programmed into the culture so healthy sustainable habits are created that become pervasive throughout the company.
  • Create training for employees based around those norms consisting of healthy habits in and out of work so employees are armed with resources to succeed in avoiding burnout.

These are just a few ideas. It’s a massive programmatic and ongoing effort organizations need to undertake. A recent study found that one in four people who left jobs recently did so because they were burned out. This is a problem that needs to be solved to retain top talent and make organizations successful not just for tomorrow but for many tomorrows.

At a sustainable pace,

-Grant


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.

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