working at a slower pace prevents burnout too early in the workday

working at a slower pace prevents burnout too early in the workday

working at a slower pace prevents burnout too early in the workday

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The most frustrating pace is inconsistent pace. 

I noticed that it took me about 6 weeks to fully adjust to a faster pace when I was coming from a slower pacing company. And about 2 months to stop being frustrated at a slow pace when I was coming from a faster pacing team. But after the initial adjustment period any pace became comfortable. Human behavior is very plastic, and we are typically influenced by our environment. I felt comfortable at any pace as long as it was:

  • Consistent across long time periods
  • Consistent across business units
working at a slower pace prevents burnout too early in the workday
working at a slower pace prevents burnout too early in the workday

Consistency across long time periods plays very well with our biological wiring. We’re change-resistant, and it’s more stressful for us to adjust our habits and processes to new circumstances than to continue exhibiting consistently high effort. Even at a physiological level, we know that our bodies adjust to cardio-type workouts (with consistent energy output) much faster than to HIIT-type workout (when we alternate periods of high intensity bursts with periods of full rest).

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The same is true at a psychological level. Many experts recommend having a consistent schedule to build better habits and facilitate our productivity.

What is Employee Burnout?

Burnout was once considered a stress syndrome. Although the feelings of extreme physical and emotional exhaustion that come along with burnout are still present, the World Health Organization has updated its workplace burnout definition. It now refers to burnout as a, “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

It further characterizes the three dimensions of burnout as:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

This change in the definition is important because the definition identifies workplaces as part of the problem. Instead of individual and team burnout being a stress problem for employees to deal with on their own, it calls attention to the fact that workplaces have some responsibility in whether their employees feel burnt out or not.

When once employees may have been fearful to slow down and deal with symptoms of burnout, they can now feel empowered to speak up knowing that burnout isn’t just a personal problem they have to deal with – it’s a professional problem that is greatly influenced by factors that are out of their control.

working at a slower pace prevents burnout too early in the workday
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It is important to note that burnout is strictly a workplace challenge. The World Health Organization states that, “Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

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However, that doesn’t mean burnout can’t affect other areas of your life. Burnout can include physical burnout, mental burnout, and emotional burnout that can affect your personal relationships, your motivation, and your mental health. If feelings of burnout aren’t addressed head-on, they can fester and ultimately transform into depression and anxiety that can affect your life in profound ways.

What Causes Burnout?

The only way you can be effective at helping employees with burnout is to know what causes burnout and recognize that it isn’t necessarily their fault. There’s much more to what causes burnout than an employee who works overtime, whether asked or not, or an employee who can’t seem to stop checking their email at home after they have clocked out.

According to Caroline Milton, burnout specialist of the Milton Coaching Collective who was interviewed for the Thriver Podcast, the root causes of burnout go way back. She says:

Parenting styles have shifted away from unstructured, free play and into organized sports, extracurricular activities, and other things that keep kids safe when mom and dad aren’t done with work. Those of us who were born in 1980 and later, we’ve been on a constant mode of achievement from a very early age.

– Quote from Caroline Milton on Thriver Podcast Ep.21

Workers are burning out in their 20’s and 30’s and feeling guilty about it because they really haven’t been working for very long. However, Millennials and the upcoming Generation Z have had a busy, achievement-based lifestyle since their teens and possibly even earlier, which makes burnout more likely to occur at an earlier age.

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