October 2021
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TD Magazine

Detect and Extinguish Burnout

Friday, October 1, 2021

The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It
By Jennifer Moss
Harvard Business Review, 288 pp., $30

Burnout is real, and no one is immune to it. But what exactly does it mean to be burned out? Does it start with us as individuals or with our environment? Does our job, supervisor, or organization cause it, or does it stem from how we react to those elements? Moss answers those questions using true stories about real people—including herself—who have experienced burnout. Grounded in research studies, the book offers tangible strategies to identify, manage, and eliminate symptoms before they become deeply rooted.

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As the author describes in easy, relatable language, burnout manifests when chronic stress and anxiety go unchecked, unmanaged, and undetected—even for a short amount of time. She explains that individuals must recognize the situations early and implement interventions to curtail the causes. In the workplace, Moss suggests that overcoming a culture of burnout begins with leadership.

Drawing from her research, she calls out the six root causes of burnout, gives relevant examples, and provides recommendations for reducing and preventing the symptoms of each. To help leaders assess their teams, Moss identifies the common traits and characteristics of individuals most likely to experience burnout. She offers management strategies geared to those top three personalities. And then she ties in relevant case studies and examples to demonstrate how to build a healthy organizational culture by knowing who employees are and what motivates them.

As any talent development professional knows, measuring performance is critical for true change. Moss dedicates a full section to measuring burnout and identifies tools and data collection methods as well as solutions.

Burnout can occur when listening, communicating, empathy, and a healthy mental outlook are absent from our everyday lives. As Moss shares, when leaders listen and communicate with empathy, they not only demonstrate self-care but show genuine care and concern for their employees. That simple yet often overlooked sentiment is what she contends is at the heart of reducing, as well as preventing, the rise of the burnout epidemic.

About the Author

Sieglinde Simon, CPTD, is a multifaceted L&D professional whose 30-year career started with writing technical telecommunications manuals, then migrating into quality assurance, and then pivoting to L&D, eventually earning a master’s degree in the field.

Simon the director of professional development with the ATD Northeast Florida Chapter. Her passion is learning and research, her enthusiasm stems from partnering with and helping people to learn, and her expertise is designing instructional materials that inspire and motivate to improve performance. As the senior instructional designer at Security First Insurance, she is part of a team that built the training department from the ground up, providing the organization of 400-plus employees with specialized training solutions that align with and support business goals.

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