Instead of “thriving” characterized by leading rewarding, fulfilled and healthy lives that allow meaning, purpose and well-being to flourish we end up nowhere close. Our relentless pursuit of the two traditional metrics of success–money and power– has led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, with a deterioration in the quality of our lives, relationships, and ironically even our careers as our abilities to make effective decisions is impacted.
We no longer unplug for any time at all and being “on 24/7” in some cultures is seen as a badge of honor.
The wet laundry feeling
A victim of acute burnout herself, Arianna Huffington, had no idea she had been on the path to self-destruction. She attributes this steady decline to a mindless addiction to our smartphones, with our souls and bodies paying a heavy price. We no longer unplug for any time at all and being “on 24/7” in some cultures is seen as a badge of honor. We wake up spiritually undernourished, sleep-deprived feeling like “wet laundry”. Who knows that feeling?
The methods she has devised for device detoxing and setting boundaries are excellent. She urges us all to shut off our phones completely once a day without being tempted to take a sneak check. Create boundaries for colleagues and be firm about sticking to them. Focus on disconnecting from work and other distractions with rules like having no phones in the bedroom.
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Burnout’s impact on employee engagement
But it’s not just about what we do as individuals. Employee well-being is also vital for organizational success. Employee stress and burnout are economic burdens on countries, citing the US as an example which costs businesses $300 billion. When people are burnt out, they also act out which has a disproportionate impact on women who become easy targets for abuse. Investing in employee wellness schemes is as important as investing in technology and other workplace developments.
Referencing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as someone who made sure he got 8 hours of sleep a night, which was a benefit to shareholders as his decision-making abilities were sharper. So, shifting cultural thinking would then be a top-down initiative. But even if the boss gets his 8 hours sleep a night, will lesser mortals be so lucky?
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