Tackling the challenge of burnout
Leaving aside its long term impact on the wellbeing of individuals, stress is often the main reason for organisational ineffectiveness, high staff turnover and has caused numerous business failures through a lack of recognition and management of its damaging impact. Our approach to building resilience starts with measuring and analysing stress as a platform for focused and preventative action. A resilience programme might comprise;
- Education and awareness: helping employees understand what resilience is and the warning signs of burnout to look out for
- Resilience assessments: Using our proprietary tool entitled AURA, we measure and quantify resilience in the organisation, providing individuals, teams and management with insightful reporting to identify priority areas and actions.
- Action planning workshops: To ensure successful outcomes, we support the implementation of AURA through action planning workshops and up-skilling managers to action plan with their teams.
- Capability and culture building: On the back of the assessment insights, we craft focused programmes to address the specific issues and gaps identified. These aim to equip individuals with the skills to respond effectively to challenges and tackle the root causes of stress in the workplace.
- Resilience coaching: Drawing on the insights from their AURA assessment, we support individuals to build a focused action plan and equip them with strategies and tools to improve personal resilience.
Our proprietary tool ‘AURA’ was developed in 2015 based on a comprehensive scientific research project. It has since been implemented in many large organisations as a standard for measuring, benchmarking and managing resilience.
AURA measures resilience along a continuum ranging from resilient to crisis, profiling symptoms across 5 areas where stress can manifest. AURA’s holistic nature enables the full spectrum of potential issues to be surfaced whilst being practical and efficient.
AURA provides individuals, teams and organisations with a resilience index and stress profiles, enabling them to identify burnout hotspots and pinpoint specific issues that are roadblocks to resilience. This sets a baseline for improvement and informs focused remedial actions.
AURA’s resilience index is an important business metric that should be integrated into any management system.
AURA’s platform contains a comprehensive library of resilience resources with evidence based tools, checklists and templates to help individuals, teams and managers cultivate healthy personal and workplace practices over the long-term.
Click here to read our full white paper which sets out the business case for measuring and managing resilience.
The starting point may depend on what you already have in place, but broadly we can help in the following ways:
Many resilience or wellbeing programmes fail due to a lack of consideration of the complex nature of stress, appreciation of root causes or failure to create safe channels for disclosure. Here are some fundamentals for success.
We also partner with a number of specialists who can deliver tailored wellness interventions. See our Partners page for details.
On a personal level, it is about having the skills and mindset to thrive and flourish during difficult times. As the positive psychologist Chris Peterson described it very simply, its about being able to ‘struggle well’. Resilience is not about letting difficulties slide off you like teflon – its about facing up to challenges and move through them, learning and growing along the way.
On an organisational level, its about the capacity to adapt positively to difficult situations, having the people, systems and support in place to respond quickly and ‘bend not break’.
Resilience is the ability to navigate challenges and grow stronger from the experience. In other words, bouncing back better.
Being resilient does not mean that people don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval and suffering. They simply have the skills and tools to respond effectively and minimise the impact on their wellbeing. Some people equate resilience with mental toughness or letting difficult events slide off you like teflon, but demonstrating resilience includes working through emotional pain, struggling and saying no when needed.
Resilience is not a trampoline, where you’re down one moment and up the next. It’s more like climbing a mountain without a trail map. It takes time, strength, and help from people around you, and you’ll likely experience setbacks along the way. But eventually you reach the top and look back at how far you’ve come.
To a certain degree, stress is good as it energises us and uplifts our performance. It also brings teams together. However, undue stress or stress that accumulates over time without proper recovery can lead to burnout.
Resilience is the antidote to burnout.
On an individual level, resilience is important because it gives people the strength needed to process and overcome hardship. Those lacking resilience can easily get overwhelmed, often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms and can become withdrawn or burnt out. Resilient people tap into their strengths and support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems.
For teams and organisations, collective resilience enables the business to respond to and recover quickly from adverse situations, coming back stronger and faster than the competition. Research shows that resilience drives performance, engagement, retention, innovation and customer satisfaction as some examples.
More compelling for organisations is the cost of inaction. Having employees who are burning out, thinking rigidly, feeling anxious, overwhelmed and exhausted is not a recipe for productivity. Recent data from a Deloitte study in 2020 shows a significant rise in ‘presenteeism’ and estimates the cost of poor mental health to UK businesses £45 billion per year. Organisations must also consider the incredibly damaging impact on their brand of a suicide, rogue employee and other disastrous lapses in employee judgement that hit the headlines.
Senior leadership sponsorship and involvement. There needs to be visible endorsement right up to Board level.
- Reducing the stigma through awareness campaigns such as #This is me where people share personal stories of mental health challenges
- Training managers in having open conversations around sensitive or difficult issues – giving them practical tools and a language to initiate such discussions
- Confidential questionnaires like AURA are a safe way of surfacing issues. Implemented in the right way, many employees especially in Asian cultures feel more comfortable disclosing in this way as opposed to a direct conversation.