How to identify Corporate Burnout in senior management and prevent it?

August 11, 201511:07 am
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Corporate burnout is more common serious issue evident among the middle and senior level management professionals today. According to a recent study, 20 percent of middle and senior leaders in organisations, both large and small are affected by ‘corporate burnout.’

How do you prevent corporate burnout among the senior professionals? HR managers should address this alarming issue proactively since it is at a critical juncture to ensure employee satisfaction and higher engagement levels on job. To retain such valuable talent, HR managers should try implementing some cultural changes to revive back the senior management team’s enthusiasm and elevate motivation levels on job, though monetary and non-monetary programs.

Dr Howard G Awbery, founder and managing director of leadership and management development company Awbery, explains the physiological changes that employers and individuals must look out for, and provides a number of tried and tested recovery strategies for coping with burnout. To escalate the problem of corporate burnout and address all issues impacting leadership and effective senior management in a company, Awbery has come up with a new book titled, ‘Pixie Dust V – A Tale of Combatting Corporate Burnout: Protecting Your Talent.

This well detailed book addressing the critical management issue of corporate burnout has been the outcome of two years of extensive research in this area, alongside Professor Max Blythe. The book includes exclusive interviews with forty leaders from all areas of the corporate sphere to discover how corporate burnout manifests itself in the real world.

“A significant number of high flyers burn out during the first ten years of their career, and I believe organisations need to take hold of this wasteful situation by analysing corporate cultures, better understanding the importance of employee health and wellbeing, eradicating the catalysts that create burnout, and supporting those unable to help themselves,” Dr Howard said.

Corporate burnout is a unique condition and mustn’t be confused with workplace stress, as Dr Howard explains: “We need to stop describing everyday stress as burnout. Burnout is a complete inability to function, to get out of bed, or undertake work in any capacity. It involves an addictive overwhelming exhaustion, resulting in disillusionment and a dysfunctional attitude towards work, colleagues and family. Describing everyday stress as burnout denigrates the seriousness of the condition and mitigates the culpability of the organisations, who have stood by and watched it happen.”

See: How to Prevent Productivity Burnout? Tips for HR Leaders

According to Howard’s research:

  • Burnout predominantly happens to high performers and is sometimes described as ‘overachiever syndrome’
  • The conditions for burnout are created by organisations or circumstances
  • Burnout predominantly happens among 20 to 30 year olds and occurs during the first ten years of a career, following a subtle downward spiral.
  • Immune system slowly shuts down resulting in repeated illness when leaders are burning out.
  • Lower back or neck pains, increased use of painkillers and caffeine, and disrupted sleep patterns are all early signs of burnout
  • Changes in eating habits and increased alcohol consumption are common
  • Often the only person who doesn’t recognise the downward spiral in performance is the leader themselves.

Organisations are therefore advised to take a step back and tackle the issue of corporate burnout before it reaches the inflection point.

How to Prevent Corporate Burnout?

Here are some tips for corporate organisations to deal with corporate burnout situations effectively:

  • To start off with, analyse if 24/7 contact is really necessary? Simple cultural changes such as no emails after 7pm or before 7am can really make a difference.
  • Flexible, annual work patterns based on operational demands, lateral development to combat repetitive work, routine mentor meetings, shorter summer hours and study leave, are just some concepts under consideration to safeguard talent pool from burning out.
  • Promoting healthy eating and exercise can also be highly effective.
  • Possibly the most important thing that organisations can do is to look at the workloads handled by their employees and ask honestly if this is a realistic expectation.

Dr Howard added: “Organisations and their people would do well to embrace the mantra ‘work hard, recover hard, repeat’. Identifying a number of capable ‘recovery buddies’ within an organisation, would help provide invaluable support to leaders, who are in the wake of corporate burnout.”

Also read: Burnout and What It Means For Those Who Notice It