The Root Cause of Burnout
There is cause, and then there is root
cause. Simply put, a “cause” is something
that happens over a specific period of time
that leads to an effect. Stress is one cause
that leads to the effect of burnout. But
“root cause” is a persistent condition that
allows the more obvious and observable
causes to occur. It may be tempting to view
COVID-19 as the root cause of our current
burnout epidemic. However, when it comes
to stress, any external factor that is beyond
our control is insufficient to describe the
persistent condition that ultimately leads to
physical or mental collapse. In other words,
many external factors may be causes of
burnout, but the root cause is something
internal (and deeply personal) to each of us.
The true root cause of burnout
is a lack of resilience.
Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t
mean people aren’t tough enough.
Instead, it means that their current life
experience is not aligned with their
expectations for how life should be. And
they don’t know how to get it there.
Resilience is your employees’
most important skill.
Whether you know it or not, resilience
is your employees’ most important skill
(especially in times like these). And
whether they know it or not, they already
have it. They just need to take steps to
unlock that resilience. The job doesn’t end
there, though, because resilience is like
a muscle: If you want it to be ready when
you need it, you can’t just work it out a
few times and forget about it for a year.
Resilience is about more than protecting
people from negatives such as burnout or
stress. It’s about helping them find positives
and taking action—so they can thrive in
a rapidly changing and challenging world.
Your People Will Continue to Experience Burnout –
Unless You Help Them Help Themselves
Building resilience isn’t easy, and we won’t pretend that it is. But
it is something everyone can achieve (even in the face of a global
pandemic). First, though, people need to admit a few hard truths:
ρ Happiness and well-being aren’t the
responsibility of the employer.
ρ It isn’t the responsibility of a spouse, family, or friends.
ρ In the grand scheme of things, it’s never about
what’s happening in the world or what anybody
else does. It’s about the person owning it.
For someone to be their best self even in times of change and
difficulty, they must shift away from an attitude of “bad things
happen to me.” They must move toward a place where they
take control and ownership of what happens in their lives, and
understand the impact those events have on what they value most.
It’s an idea we call “active resilience.” And
it has the potential to change everything.
Through active resilience, the focus turns
to aligning one’s values with the current
state of their life – and the idea that their
personal and professional satisfaction is
directly related to that alignment. And it all
boils down to taking personal responsibility
for their life satisfaction, rather than
becoming a victim to circumstances.
Still, your organization needs to do something: In a Deloitte
survey, almost 69% of respondents said their employers were
not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout, and 21% said
their company wasn’t doing anything at all.1 At Aduro, we’ve
found the best way to prevent burnout is to give your people
the knowledge and tools to do it themselves—that is, to put
their lives back in alignment with what matters to them. That’s
what resilience is all about. And if the lack of resilience is the
root cause of burnout, we need resilience now more than ever.
But it’s also important to understand that most people won’t
engage with the knowledge and tools you provide them
with unless the importance of well-being and resilience is
elevated to the level of a strategic transformation initiative.
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