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You Can't Effectively Lead Others if Your Tank is Empty

How to avoid burn-out in a time of crisis

In the many conversations I’ve had with CEOs over the last month-plus, most have expressed a concern about their teams. Chief executives I know in healthcare are simply doing everything they can to provide resources, guidance and emotional support to their staffs. In other industries, as organizations have pivoted to remote operations, the lack of a physical boundary between home and work is creating an environment where the workday feels like it never really ends. Telling employees to pursue work-life balance during the current pandemic can be a stressor in itself—they may try to disengage from work while still feeling obligated to, for instance, open their inboxes after hours to check email. Additionally, those that live alone feel even more isolated and those living with their families can feel familial overload stresses.

The long-term effect is employee burnout, an organizational issue that CEOs were already wrestling with before the onset of COVID-19. The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” Take a temperature check and see if this applies to those on your team. Moreover, does it apply to you?

Gallup estimates that roughly two-thirds of workers experience burnout occasionally or frequently. In a survey of healthcare leaders conducted by WittKieffer before the pandemic, four-fifths (79 percent) felt that burnout was negatively affecting their organizations. It’s reasonable to assume that the percentages have increased in the face of the global health crisis we’re currently experiencing.

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