‘I’m in zoom fatigue.’
‘My boss is an idiot.’
‘Workplace politics is intimidating me.’
‘I don’t feel belonged here.’
‘I feel like giving up!’
If these emotions are dominating your head, may be you are suffering from the workplace burnout.
It’s okay! Almost everyone feels these stressful emotions sometimes. But the trouble is when they get consistent, frequent and sticky.
You start living the life of a prisoner. A mental prison. Everything seems fading. Your heart wants to crib endless. You end up bitching with colleagues endlessly.
These are the mere symptoms. Humans are a composite entity. Your workplace stress would spillover to your bedroom and kitchen.
If you don’t take the appropriate measures, it may get worse. You may lose purpose. You may lose interest in life. You may slip into some depression where you feel that you anyway don’t deserve any happiness.
But be mindful. Burnouts may not always be the result of a toxic workplace. At times, your personal life may not be happening your way and you may not be okay with it.
‘My love ditched me.’
‘My bills are in a mess.’
‘My family is sick.’
‘I have no friends.’
‘I have not achieved what I wanted.’
‘My all dreams are a failure.’
‘God revenges on me.’
‘Luck cheats me.’
‘I don’t matter to anyone!’
Yah! There can be a million reasons to suffer and this may come to your work as well. Then, adapting to even a minor change in your organisation can be a marathon for you. Even a friendly joke can mess you up.
Please! Please! Please! Take some steps right at the moment you feel so. You deserve to be happy. So, why to live the life like hell?
But how to cope up? How to get over? How to let everything go?
Billion dollar questions really! Well, the first step to accept this. Accepting your emotions plainly is the biggest step. Now you know that you are facing stressful emotions.
Next is to be open about your emotions to the people around you. Just pour out everything. Unedited! Be open to the feedback and criticism of the people you trust. Ask the other people at your workplace if they too share your emotions. Feel the mercury of the organisational climate.
If your colleagues and friends share your emotions as well, then the next step is to identify as to why the work culture got stressful and when did it happen.
Here comes the crucial role of the leaders at the workplace. They need to sense the changing whether of the organisation. They have to notice the weed in the garden.
It can be due to multiple reasons. Change of the guard, new technology, arrogance and mistrust are some dominant reasons.
A new reason is being dominant in present time of COVID pandemic and remote working. It is the increased monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
It is highly irritating. Half of the time, employees are making just some report to be given to the boss sitting in some remote place, explaining the work done or to be done in whole day. Excessive control fails the organisations and destroys the trust culture.
Be a friend, philosopher and guide to your people. Don’t try to be their boss; they will reject you!-TARUN GOYAL
Too much control is no control. Employees are being asked the questions about their work too often these days and technology is fuelling this.
Video calls, live chats, instant messaging and constant connection is building technostress.
Never ever, ever-ever in the history of work, been the expectations so high to respond quickly. Earlier, if you do not respond to your boss in a day, it is okay. Now, the expected time to respond is 10 minutes at max.
We the humans are not wired for intrusive accountability. Humans feel humiliated when they have to explain all the time what they are working at.
Technology is unique. It has enabled decentralised working but enabled centralised control, solving the perennial dilemma of centralisation and decentralisation.
Overuse of technology and a never ending quest for more and more information by the managers and hunger for coercive power may upset the morale of the team.
Of course, there are many theories in the management literature. Some advocate for situational leadership, some for considering the maturity of the employees and some advocate for creating an aura around the leader.
But being in a role to lead thousands of people in the great Indian Railways, I’m amply convinced that leadership is essentially about ensuring and enhancing the dignity of the people. Respecting people’s dignity, their space and liberty is at the core.
Organisations cannot fake this. People understand when in the name of the more freedom supposedly enabled by tech, they are led into more control and intensive supervision.
Accountability should supplement Trust. It should not replace it!-TARUN GOYAL
It makes people feel that they are losing control over their own lives. This sense of insecurity does no good in any fashion.
It may enhance your work output initially. Managers may be happy about this renewed productivity. But, it may be eroding the healthy roots of the organisational tree which are visible only at a much later date.
Your tree may be looking healthy right now full of fruits. But it may be losing the health of its roots at the same time. It will be visible only to the future gardeners!-TARUN GOYAL
I also propose a tool with the organisational leaders to keep a quantitative check on the burnout problem. It is the ‘Burnout Holiday.’
‘Burnout Holiday’ essentially counts on an open work culture. Managers do often ask the reason for holiday of an employee. If managers have enough empathy, employees do not hesitate to narrate the true reason.
Just keeping a log of all the leaves availed to cool down the mind can help. Consultancies to the psychologists, to the organisational counsellor or mental health specialist, increased frequencies of leave to visit home or a day off to come to senses. All these are important indicators.
We call such holidays as ‘Burnout Holidays.’ It is also important that such leaves are given liberally to regain the mental strength and collect the soul and the spirit. It will help the employees to take a breathing space to avoid rash decisions and identify the reason of the burnout.
If too many employees are facing and reporting it and trend of ‘Burnout Holiday’ overshoots the expected deviance, organisation have got to think seriously. Then you immediately need a coffee break with your team.
If tech has played its part to build the technostress, it is the tech which can help to clear this mess as well. AI tools of tomorrow will measure the satisfaction and stress levels and capture the causalities of happiness.
But more than tech, I fundamentally believe in the power of humans to overcome any problem together.
There is no better firewall against burnouts than the thick human bonds of trust and care at the workplace!-TARUN GOYAL
If we can breathe for each other, our lungs can fight any toxicity!
So let us breathe together.
It is lovely!