“Every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important.’” – Iain Thomas

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. On autopilot, we forget to stop and remember what’s really important. When in the end, you will not be remembered for the number of emails you could answer in a day, but rather for how you treated people and loved your family and friends. Technology has enabled us to work smarter and more efficiently, so let’s use it to our advantage instead of letting it own us. Let’s adopt human-centric thinking and innovation and smarter work will fall in line. Businesses that fail to adapt to this will be seen as out-of-date and unappealing to future employees. Renowned market research firm Frost and Sullivan reported the following prediction on the future of work. “Enabled by growing connectivity and evolving employee expectations, flexibility, health and happiness will assume greater emphasis in the American working environment.” Supporting this notion, 54% of respondents in the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey said that businesses “have no ambition beyond wanting to make money.” 70% in the same study believe that people treatment, ethics and customer focus are values that support long-term business success.

How Individuals Can Combat Burnout

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” – Fr. Alfred D’Souza

Real life is taking place now, and it’s up to you to make it fulfilling. Here are some steps to help you integrate your work and life that will lead to success in both.

  1. Take care of yourself. As with the oxygen masks on a plane, you can’t help others until you help yourself first. Proper exercise, sleep habits and practicing mindfulness will give you a greater sense of peace and higher productivity.
  2. Identify signs of burnout and stop them in their tracks – or better yet, prevent them. Psychology Today defines burnout as a state of chronic stress (mostly in work-related situations) that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, along with feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. For actionable insights on how to fight back against burnout, read GETTING AND STAYING FREE FROM BURNOUT.
  3. Don’t fall for the myths of burnout such as believing you are weak or that you just need a vacation and everything will be OK.

So what is the opposite of burnout? Engagement.

While there are varied definitions of “employee engagement,” engagement itself is categorized by features of Vigor (Energy), Dedication (Involvement), and Absorption (Efficacy). People inherently want to be engaged and connected. It’s how we are hard-wired. Look for companies that care about this, but don’t rely on them to keep you constantly engaged – it’s your responsibility, too. After all, it is your life.

How Companies Can Combat Burnout

As mentioned above, companies that do not adopt human-centric thinking will fall behind in attracting and retaining an engaged workforce.

Thriving employees create a thriving organization. Innovative ideas, efficiency and productivity are just some of the benefits an engaged workforce provides. Empowering and enabling employees to be their best selves creates the happiest employees, and that connects directly to client satisfaction.

Many studies, along with findings from the Incentive Research Foundation, have proven that “effective use of rewards and recognition can provide the links between engagement, roles, value exchange relationships and performance.”

Here are three actionable ways to help ensure engaged employees.

  1. Personalized Motivation – Life stages, age, position and personality all play a role in what motivates employees. Encourage direct managers to get to know their team and find out what motivates each person individually.
  2. Recognition – Encourage and train all employees, especially direct managers, to incorporate simple recognition on a regular basis. Peer-to-peer, manager-to-peer, spot awards and service awards are all important and effective engagement tools to recognize achievements.
  3. Appreciation – Show appreciation, not only for the work employees do, but how they carry out your core values and your mission. This holistic approach will also help you better understand what motivates employees and what might burn them out.

You have the responsibility to identify and combat signs of burnout in your own life and organizations have a responsibility to prevent burnout with engagement. Take a look at your work – you should be able to quickly analyze the situation and stay on top of it.

Let’s Thrive.

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