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To fight burnout, workers can’t allow well-being to feel like another to-do

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For over a millennium, we’ve turned the concept of burnout into tragically biased memes—those gray-washed stock images of a guy resting his head in his hand as he gloomily stares at his blank computer monitor; a single match with its flame recently snuffed out; a harried mom carrying three bags of jam-packed groceries while multiple kids tumble out of the van. And, in response to the stock photo way we see this serious illness, we’ll lose nearly $1 trillion in productivity globally each year, spend $190 billion in healthcare outlays, and 120,000 people will die from burnout in the United States alone.

And what about the pandemic, which made an existing problem exponentially worse? I’ve studied burnout and worked with organizations to address it for years, but nothing would inform my understanding of the topic more than living through 2020. For some time, I’d been sounding the alarm of, “Burnout is getting worse. People are sick!” Then we were all suddenly thrust into unknown territory. This sudden shift did what little else had been able to accomplish before: expose how thinly stretched and worn down we all were—and had been for a while. And it also made our burnout much, much worse.

I started writing my book, The Burnout Epidemic, in early 2020. For years, as a journalist and consultant helping leaders combat burnout, I’d witnessed the pernicious effects of burnout, but the pandemic took the problem to epidemic levels. We’re beyond burned out.

In late 2020 and into early 2021, I teamed up with [researchers] Michael Leiter, Christina Maslach, and David Whiteside, director of insights and research at YMCA WorkWell, to better understand the impact of the pandemic on well-being and burnout. Our survey........

© Fast Company

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