Workplace Wellness: Burnout, Engagement & Solutions

This week with Dr Suzy Green, we explored positivity in the workplace. We explored the theme of burnout, what are some of their symptoms, and what we could do about them.

More information on burnout and engagement, the PERMA Model, The Great Resignation, and other topics will be covered in this Healthy Bite.


Workplace Wellness – Challenges and Opportunities

This week we explored positivity in the workplace. In particular, we explored the themes of burnout and what we could do about it. What are some of their symptoms, and what can we do about them? We did that with the excellent Dr Suzy Green from The Positivity Institute.

Now, Suzy has been a guest on our podcast before, and I love getting some of my guests back to keep in touch with them, keep up to date with them and get them to share what is their latest, their latest work and what they are working on. 

This week, we are focussing on burnout and engagement. Suzy references the work of Professor Martin Seligman, which I also reference in my book, A Life Less Stressed: The Five Pillars of Health and Wellness

PERMA Model

In the chapter on Think or Thought, I talked about the PERMA Model, and the PERMA Model discusses… stands for P-E-R-M-A. P stands for Positivity, E for Engagement, R for Relationships, M for Meaning, and A for Accomplishment. We discuss how Marty Seligman, as Suzy calls him, or Professor Seligman, as I probably would, have added another letter to that PERMA Model. It is the letter H, or she told me it was also V. H stands for Health and V for Vitality because he recognised that it was tough to be positive, engaged, form relationships, and find meaning and accomplishment unless the person was healthy. It’s much easier if you are healthy.

That’s the purpose of our Unstress Podcast and our Unstress Health Community and programmes. It provides information to help you take control of your health, fulfil your potential and be the best you can be. 

But back to the PERMA Model, and we’re exploring burnout in the corporate space and the fact that so many… The current period is referred to as the great resignation. One reason is that the last two years have been a period of global reflection and a dramatic change in our work environment. 

Overnight1 from lockdown. We were told to stay home. For many people, that meant long commutes of up to an hour or more each way in a day, which over a five-day working week adds up to a whole day of travelling to and from work is a considerable price that people pay. This was an opportunity to free up time and space for thinking about what was essential and meaningful in life, how engaged you were with your job, what the meaning of your job was, and how meaningful relationships are.

Relationship

Focusing on the relationship side of things is interesting because we know that relationships are essential. I think that’s one of the lessons we’ve learnt from this period: the importance of genuine relationships, face-to-face relationships. 

It’s great that we can communicate with people worldwide, but nothing quite beats being in the same room, being able to interact, and seeing facial expressions and body language to reach out and shake someone’s hand. I know that’s a dangerous activity, but there’s something quite lovely. Hug them or kiss them. 

There’s something about the connection with other human beings. Well, arguably, it’s what’s made our species, Homo sapiens, the successful species we are. Our ability to interact, co-regulate and cooperate and do that in person has been a measure of our success as a species.

Relationships have been something that perhaps we’ve recognised well. We have realised how important that is. Our new work environment balances the time we save commuting and the convenience and legitimacy of working from home. That raises all sorts of challenges because it assumes that you have a comfortable work environment at home and adequate… 

A desk and chairs to sit on, ergonomically comfortable. That you have good computer screens and an internet connection makes all sorts of assumptions. Still, assuming you do, returning to the office and connecting with the team or your co-workers is also significant. 

You are finding that balance in this new work-life experience that we’re being offered. There are many challenges, but there are many opportunities. The excitement, novelty, or importance of spending time in the same room with your team and your co-workers is also potentially a positive thing.

The Great Resignation

The exciting thing is that this is being described as The Great Resignation. And it’s interesting to go to the work from the Gallup Organisation, which I know many years ago there was a survey that they did on employee engagement, which I think from memory was something like 13% of the workforce was disengaged, I think it was something like 13% of the crew was engaged in their work. 

They were engaged in their work. 65% of the workforce were a little indifferent. They did the job because they didn’t see there was significant meaning in the position that they did, but they did it because it was their income. 

That 65% plus 13%, I think we’re up to 65, and 13 is about 78%. The rest were actively disengaged or disengaged from their work, which suggests that about 87% of the workforce is either indifferent or disengaged from their work, which is sobering.

It has now led to what is referred to as the period we’re now in called The Great Resignation, which is the excellent disconnect because people are realising and reflecting on their work experience. Now there are some interesting statistics, and I’m referencing the Gallup Organisation and the cover story here, the highlights of which are a job change is on the mind of nearly half of all US employees. 

I don’t think that would be very different in Australia. Employee engagement correlates strongly with employee retention. Now is the time – this is Gallup offering this advice to corporations. “Now is the time to rethink your employee retention strategy. 

It’s interesting because our Unstress Health Platform will be targeting the corporate world in Australia, the UK and America in the new year. After all, we believe our more holistic approach to stress and building resilience is an excellent way of providing an ongoing corporate wellness programme. 

Corporate wellness programmes are window dressings. You get a health check-up once a year, you might get free flu vaccines, it might be a massage, you might have a bowl of fruit, and there might be the occasional health talk. What Unstress Health is going to be looking at is providing ongoing community engagement. But it’s interesting to reflect on this disengagement that’s going on.

The Gallup Organisation

A new Gallup analysis finds that 48% of America’s working population is actively job searching or watching for opportunities. Present businesses are facing a staggeringly high quit rate. In fact, in America, 3.6 million Americans resigned in May 2022 alone. 

A record high number of unfilled positions because, undoubtedly true in Australia, because of our lockdown and the fact that we don’t have overseas workers on short-term working holiday visas or tourists or students or backpackers, as we call them, the unemployed. The unemployment rate in Australia and America is meagre, and almost everywhere is advertising for workers.

There are some real issues here about engagement and its impact on a company. It’s not just absenteeism, which was always a problem and an easy thing to measure, but it’s presenteeism as well, which is you showing up to work but not being present. 

A study in Australia about two or three years ago estimated that the cost of presenteeism to Australian industry conservatively is around $44 Billion a year, and that doesn’t even take into account then staff turnover because the cost of staff turnover is vast in loss of human capital and the cost of retraining. So something needs to change. Gallup’s advice is that now is the time to rethink your employee retention strategy and do that very proactively. 

People call it The Great Resignation, as the Gallup data show it is less an industry role or pay issue than a workplace issue. It’s not the industry or how much pay an individual gets but the workplace environment the employer is creating. 

Low-engagement teams typically have turnover rates between 18 and 43% higher than a highly engaged team. That’s an essential thing. Gallup finds that it takes more than a 20% pay rise to lure most employees away from a manager who engages them and next to nothing to poach most disengaged workers. 

If you’re working in an engaging environment where the employee is focussed on the health of their team, and as I’ve often said, a company that focuses on the health of their team is a company that people will want to work for and also a company that people will want to work with.

It’s a whole issue that cuts right across. Interestingly, we discuss so much of that in this episode with Suzy Green this week, exploring what burnout means. Disengagement from your work is a significant part of finding that balance by incorporating the PERMA model into assessing people’s mental and physical health within the work environment. 

That’s why a focus, a more holistic focus on health is so important because it’s one thing to say you need to have a more positive attitude to fitness. You need to be more to work. You need to be more engaged, etc. 

If you’re not sleeping well, you’re not breathing, consider ng well, then that puts you behind the eight ball right from the word go. When you also know that mood and food are intimately connected, you start to build a picture of the stresses we’re exposed to and the pillars of health that we’re not told to combine to create a disengaged workforce with other priorities. 

It’s a company focusing on this in a proactive way that is really companies people want to seek out, work with, and form long, ongoing, meaningful relationships with.

It’s always an excellent opportunity and a wonderful experience to talk to Suzy Green, like our discussions about sleep and breathing. When we revisit with our cardiologist, Dr Ross Walker, over our meditation and yoga and psychotherapist, Dr Shankardev Saraswati, it’s great to reconnect with the Positivity Institute and tap that hoop along and remind us that this is something we should all be striving for. 

It was a great episode. It’s great. It’s well worth having a listen to. I hope this finds you well. Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.

 

 

This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, they should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests in this podcast express their opinions, experiences, and conclusions.