Dealing with Burnout: TextNow’s Mental Health Employee Group
Employee Resource Groups are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve.
I don’t think there’s a worker anywhere in North America who doubts burnout is real. US worker productivity has increased 350% from 1979, with no accompanying increase in wages. We’re all working harder, for less money, which naturally leads to burnout.
Our own Daniel Kennedy, Director, Customer Care Operations, who currently leads our Mental Health Employee Resource Group, recently gave a short presentation about burnout: what is it, how to spot it in yourself, and tips for dealing with it.
Here’s some of the things we learned:
What is burnout?
According to the World Health Organization, burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
The definition of burnout includes three dimensions; emotional exhaustion, cynicism or depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. (More about these below.)
Burnout isn’t something that suddenly happens, rather it’s a slow, gradual feeling of malaise. That’s partially why it can be difficult to notice it’s happening to you before it’s too late.
What is exhaustion?
As a component of burnout, exhaustion refers to feelings of being depleted of one’s emotional and physical resources. In other words, you feel like a battery that’s lost its charge.
This includes feelings of:
- Being worn out
- Energy loss
What is cynicism?
As it pertains to burnout, cynicism is the gulf between what a company says, versus what an employee believes. For example, a worker might have their manager promise more time off, but if the worker has been promised that before without getting more time off, the worker begins to distrust the word of the company. That cynicism can add to feelings of burnout.
Sign of cynicism include:
- Lack of idealism
- Inappropriate attitude
What is reduced personal accomplishment?
Feelings of incompetence or feeling a lack of achievement. Combined with imposter syndrome (something experienced by nearly two-thirds of workers worldwide), it can snowball into burnout quite quickly.
This can feel like:
- Low morale
- Inability to cope
- Lack of productivity
- Feeling ineffective
Widespread burnout can lead to:
- Low commitment
- Intention to leave/Direct turnover
- Hampered productive hours
- Increased cardiovascular risk
A good way to look at this is burnout happens when there is a perceived difference between your personal values, and the values of your company. You might value your time with your family very highly, for example, but if your company expects you to work overtime or put in crunch time, then the family time you value the most will inevitably suffer.
There’s no real quick fix for burnout, aside from having an open and honest conversation with your employer or direct leader. The truth is burnout can affect not just the morale of your workplace, but the bottom line for the company. It behooves both you and your employer to take burnout seriously and work out ways to prevent or mitigate it.
Here at TextNow, we live our values every day – a very important one being People First -- We’ve implemented policies to directly tackle burnout. For example, we’ve mandated each employee take one mental health and wellness day a month, a much-needed pressure valve to help prevent burnout. This is in addition to our unlimited vacation policy, flexible work hours, our long-standing Work Best policy that allows TextNow employees to work wherever they feel most productive (be it an office, a home, or wherever you want), and our Wellness employee spending account.
We’ve also implemented Employee Resource Groups, like the Mental Health ERG we mention up above, but also ERGs for parents & guardians, LGBTQ+ employees, and a Women+ group. These groups provide safe spaces to talk about issues pertaining to the group and to get to know fellow Textnovians who may be having similar experiences.
But more importantly than policies, our work culture here is very employee centered. We care about all people who work for us, and we want everyone to succeed – not only in the workplace but in life outside of work. In our experience having a healthy work environment comes from the top down.
Finally, check out these links below for online resources and information to help you combat burnout where you work:
The Mayo Clinic’s article on burnout
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health