• Victoria Lancaster

Burnout & Engagement

Updated: Aug 27

Artwork by Romane Biamby - Instagram @biambyimaging

The pandemic has left employee burnout and disengagement at all time highs. Individuals across the globe are expressing strong feelings of emotional and physical exhaustion, disconnection from co-workers and friends, and an overall lack of fulfilment.

What exactly is burnout? The New Yorker explains that burnout is a term born out of the 1970’s when free clinics came about in New York City to treat the disenfranchised and alienated populations including such groups as hippies, commune dwellers, drug abusers and minority groups. These clinics specialised in detoxification of what was termed to be ‘burnt out’ populations because they were exhausted, weary, spent, and left in states of absolute depression and despair.

Since then, the term ‘burnt out’ evolved as part of the vernacular of today’s workplace. In fact, according to the world classification of diseases, the World Health Organisation in 2019 recognised burnout to be an occupational phenomenon (as opposed to a medical condition or a mental disorder). Some countries, like Sweden, with some of the most progressive protections for employees in the workplace allow employees to go on sick leave for burnout.

Medical professionals have a difficult time distinguishing burnout from depression. In its simplest essence, burn out is for the human mind and body like the equivalent of an engine losing its petrol or steam. The New Yorker cites it as “exhaustion, cynicism, and loss of efficacy.” Burnout is at an all time high, likely due to the merging of our work and home lives. That feeling of, does work ever end?

In the context of VBT, burnout and associated feelings of depletion can also be due to a lack of attention upon ‘what really matters’ in our lives. People now more than ever are seeking out what brings their life meaning and a sense of fulfilment. Value Balance Training does just this as it aims to help address phenomenas like burnout and disengagement in a practical, tangible, and individualised fashion at all levels of an organisation.

A recent Forbes’ article suggests that we can cope with burnout by managing energy and engaging in our personal lives just as much as our professional lives. VBT aims to help individuals find what it is exactly that makes them feel energised, balanced, and successful, beyond just their work lives or professional success. There might be a lost or forgotten ambition or activity that could be reintroduced into one’s life to counter feelings of exhaustion and depletion. When we prioritise our values, find ways around what’s blocking their pursuit and then establish practical ‘catalysts for change’ into our daily work and home lives, burnout will naturally decline, and engagement will soar.

While engagement was up at the start of the pandemic, likely due to fear of losing one’s job, this has quickly changed due to its sheer length and continual toll on mental health. 60% of burnt out and depressed employees are not seeking treatment and 20% are not reporting mental health issues for fear of losing their jobs. To draw engagement back into our workplaces, we need individuals to feel like they’re first and foremost engaged with their values whilst discovering what makes them tick. Our mission? Empowering organisations to deliver a clear message to their employees; your well-being, as well as your success, is valued.