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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.” With me is my co-host Susan White, a national HR consultant. Susan and I recently released our newest book, “The JoyPowered® Team,” with five other authors. Today, our topic is extinguishing burnout and igniting engagement. In a 2018 Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full time employees, they found that 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes. That means about two thirds of full time workers experienced burnout on the job.
Wow, doesn’t that surprise you, JoDee?
Yeah, it does. It really does. Although burnout has become just part of the job for many workers, the hard organizational cost of burnout is substantial. Burned out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job. And even if they stay, they typically have 13% lower confidence in their performance and are half as likely to discuss how to approach performance goals with their managers. In short, employee burnout can trigger a downward spiral in individual and organizational performance.
Wow, it sounds like not only are they taking sick days, but they’re sick of work, right?
Exactly. And not surprisingly, the effects of burnout don’t stop at the office door. Employees who consistently experience high levels of burnout are two times more likely to strongly agree that the amount of time their job takes makes it difficult to fulfill their family responsibilities. Even scarier, burned out employees are 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.
Oh my gosh.
Yeah, so this is way more than a work issue, right? This is our lives. This is our lives and everything in it is being impacted by this.
We got to figure it out.
Yeah. So of course we have some experts joining us today.
Our guests today are Robert and Terri Bogue. Robert and Terri are the co-authors of “Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention.” They are focused on reducing burnout and increasing engagement for everyone. Robert has owned his own business for over 10 years after spending time in the IT world. He has authored 27 books and has been an editor for over 100 additional books. Terri has been a clinical nurse specialist for over 30 years, and is focused on keeping children and their families safe and improving interpersonal communications to change outcomes. Robert and Terri both speak at regional, national, and international events. And we are so happy to have you here with us today. So thank you for joining us.
Thank you for having us.
So why don’t you start by telling us, what is burnout?
Okay, so burnout really, you look at it and say it’s fatigue, it’s cynicism, and it’s inefficacy. And of those three, one’s really causal, and that’s inefficacy.
What do you mean by inefficacy?
So inefficacy is really that you don’t feel like you’re getting the things done you need to. You’re not effective.
Yeah. And who’s responsible for that? Is that the employers, the managers, the people themselves? What’s going on there?
Well, so, so let me change that a bit. And so if you get hurt, if you are hurt because someone else runs into you, or you stub your toe, or whatever it is, whose responsibility is it to heal? And it’s always the person who was hurt’s responsibility to heal. So whether the burnout is coming from external factors, whether it’s coming from internal factors, it really doesn’t matter. Because if you’re going to heal and get better, that really is a personal decision and a personal commitment to getting better.
I like that. I like that. Yeah. So we’re all responsible for our own selves.
So can we talk about maybe from all your experience, how do people get burnt out? Like, are there any warning signs or anything that we should be looking for?
So we take this really pretty simple and turn it into what we call our bathtub model. So you have this bathtub, and that’s your personal agency, is the things you have and the ability you have to get things done. It’s three things that feed into your personal agency and that’s support, results, and self care, and at the bottom of your bathtub, what takes away our personal agency is the demands we have. Every one of those have valves that we have control of, we can determine how much support we allow and what we see as our results and how much self care we do or don’t do. And what’s interesting about self care, it doesn’t just fill our personal agency, it makes the bathtub bigger, it actually gives us more ability to fulfill our demands. And then finally, it’s recognizing when you need to adjust your demands, that it’s okay to say no, because when your personal agency runs out, that’s where you hit burnout, is you don’t have anything left to give, you’re not able to do the things you have to do.
So we just need to pull the plug.
That – I love that. Well, I, I read your book. So I read that model in there, but it did really make me personally think about some things. My – one of my goals for 2019 was to simplify. And I have made some tough decisions in my life about some things that I just didn’t have the time or energy to commit to. So I like now thinking about that as I just have to pull the plug on those. Very good. Very good. So how do people get out of burnout? One of those is you know, pulling the plug on some things. I do kinda like the, the picture in my head now is putting bubble bath in the tub.
Yeah. Nice smelling, right?
You know, we all think about you know, self care’s really indulgent.
But in truth, it’s not getting massages, it’s as much about you being able to do things for other people as it is for yourself.
Yeah, that is so true. I personally have a thing about massages. Susan’s really good.
I love my massages.
And consistent about getting massages. And I know anyone who knows me knows that my favorite gift is to have a spa gift or a massage, but I struggle to pay for that on my own because I – Oh, Terri.
Yeah, he’s pointing – my birthday a little more than a year ago was a spa gift. And it’s a spa I love and I have it sitting on my nightstand so I can look at it and – oh, I could go get a massage. There’s many times I think I should have gone and gotten a massage.
But it’s really hard to make that commitment to yourself.
Yeah, yeah. So even you who understand all of this,
We still struggle.
It’s still hard.
I want you to look and see that massage is going to expire. If so, I want you to call me after this podcast!
You’ll make sure that it gets used.
Right, right. Right.
So we were talking about how do people get out of burnout and we talked about one of the two models that we discuss in the book, which is the bathtub model, but there’s another. It’s a little bit harder, so we typically cover this second, is burnout is really the gap between our expectations, what we expect to see, and the recognition, how we perceive our results. Okay? And so when those two things get really far apart, the rubber band that holds them together snaps, and that’s burnout or like, okay, I just can’t do it anymore, right? I’m working really hard, I should be getting these kind of results but I’m not getting any or not getting enough. Right? And so, what helps to get out of burnout is to move those two things together. And you can do that by grounding in reality. So if you ground in reality and say yes, I think I should be able to leap small buildings in a single bound. I go, there’s no real – there’s nobody else really can do that.
You know, and your results when you’re looking at, hey, you know, I’m not the next Justin Bieber, or I’m not Madonna, or I’m not whatever. You look at that and you go, well, but is that realistic? Because out of a million people or 5 million people that were trying to do that thing, one came out, is it realistic that the dice is always going to come up boxcars for me? Or it’s always going to be sevens? No, you can’t. You can’t expect that. So when you ground in reality you go, now there are a lot of people struggling. The fact that we’re still in business, and we’re still doing good work for good clients, boy, that’s, that’s great. People think about these overnight successes and they’re like, oh, well, I’ve got to be Chick-fil-a, right? Well, if you know the whole story of Chick-fil-a, years and years and years, decades and decades and decades, they were just this little one, one restaurant place, right, Dwarf House. And so you have to ground yourself into what is reality? What’s a realistic expectation? And if I’m getting positive results, why aren’t those enough for now?
It’s interesting. My husband always says the key to a happy marriage is low expectations. But I, you know, I see that transfer.
You’re experiencing burnout, are your expectations way too high?
You know, I can remember a time, specifically the summer of 1988, so just a few years out of college, and I was working for a CPA firm where, typically, you know, your expectation is you’ll work a lot January to April 15. But I was crazy busy and working a ton June, July, and August. And I remember in the early days of our marriage, I just kept telling my husband, I just have to get this one project done, and then it’s going to be better. And then the next weekend, I would, I found myself saying the exact same thing. I just have to get this one project done. So my – and I never thought of it this way. But I do remember a time when I was really struggling. And now I can see my expectations were, they were completely unrealistic.
So the funny thing is you were still getting some results.
Right? So see how these really high expectations get really high results, but the gap never got that far.
And so it worked.
Right? Until that first time that a client didn’t recognize your results when doing management. And you’re like, what am I doing this for?
Yeah, yeah. Well, and actually, a part of the problem was I was getting such good results. I kept getting more work. You know, I –
It caused burnout, right?
Really high performers keep getting more and more to do.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Interesting. So what should organizations do, recognizing that they can help individuals avoid burnout?
Well, if you really look at the things that cause burnout, so, so you know, support, results, and self care, then how do you as an organization support your staff? Do you give them the things they need to be successful? And do we recognize them? Do we let them know, hey, you did a good job on this project, or you’re making good progress, which can be just as important as that final result, and helping them to understand it’s okay. It’s okay to use your PTO. We really want you to, even though it’s not convenient for us, we really don’t want you to be gone this week. But we want you to be refreshed.
And, well, you’re still gonna have demands, it’s how do you negotiate them. You know, I’m giving you these four projects, and they can’t all four be the most critical. So how do you work with people to say, this is what’s most important to me? And how do we get to a timeline that’s going to be effective for all of us, that you meet the expectations of the organization? And it’s something that’s doable for them so they actually can see progress?
Yeah. Interesting, too. I like the way you started that out by just saying recognizing them, you know, sometimes we think, oh, we have to have this magic bullet program or answer, and sometimes the answer is saying thank you,
Or showing appreciation. Well, though, giving them a massage would be awesome. You can start with thank you. Yeah, yeah.
Well, and I think the other thing, just kind of building on that is, as a business owner, you always want to do the next level, right? Hey, I’ve got to here, what’s the next level? Right? And I think sometimes as business owners, we forget to say, we’re able to go to the next level, to strive for that, because of the great work you’ve been doing and continue to do. And so rather than it being, oh, my gosh, I gotta reach again. It can be, wow, look at this progress we’re making that we can, we can consider making that kind of a reach.
Yeah, I think that’s really insightful. I have worked with some firms that always talk about we’re a continual improvement, improvement firm. We focus on always improving, and that can just, for the person who wants to have some wins, they’re like, can’t we ever to celebrate? Yeah, maybe it’s important that those, you want to be a high performing organization and constantly improving, but you gotta stop and recognize people so they realize that they’ve realized goals.
It’s kind of the, you know, you get the idea of the day or the goal of the week. Well, and we change our focus so frequently in business, this is really important, but we don’t close it.
We don’t let people know, hey, that was great. And we’re going to continue that. And we appreciate what you’re doing. And we’re going to do something else different or more.
Yeah, yeah. Is there anything else you would like to share on this topic?
Yeah, I think when we when we were looking at this, so we wrote the book, obviously, because you’ve read it. But we also put together an online course, what we recognized is, is sometimes there’s that inflection moment, that moment where you’re sitting all alone, or you realize acutely, hey, there’s something wrong. So we have the online course that people can get and buy individually. If you’re just an individual and you’re like, hey, I don’t I don’t know what my company will do, go to the website, get the course and watch Terri and I talking about this topic and what you can do to get better. I think that we are on our website every single week posting an article. And that article’s typically, typically very, very short. So 600 words or four or five minutes of video, all of them have videos, if that’s easier for you to consume. And we’ll take some small aspect of this burnout topic. And we’ll cover it in, like I say, just, like, five minutes. So there’s help out there. There – it’s not like, and it’s not like you even have to pay for it. You show up and and look around and try and find, hey, how do I reset my perspective in my world, so that I can get out of this, this thing called burnout. I don’t want to live there, right? Everybody ends up there. We – when we’re talking, we’ll, we’ll do a presentation and we’ll go, okay, so how many of you in the audience have done burnout? And it’s a really good thing that there’s a little spacing between the chairs because the hands go up immediately. Woah! And it really pretty typically is almost every person. So there’s just a lot of people hurting with this. So it’s – so I think we all got that experience. It’s how do we get out of it?
Yeah. And so the course is kind of a self care, right? Really, right? A way to help yourself get through it.
I’m glad to know there’s a resource out there, because in my career coaching part of my practice, people say, you know, Susan, I don’t know what to do next. All I know, is I’m so burnt out. And I don’t know really how to help them with that. So I’m glad to know there’s something out there, right? I don’t worry about okay, so we – now it’s time to look for a new job. Well, maybe it’s not.
That’s just what I was gonna say. And I’m curious if you guys have some thoughts on that, that sometimes, I think maybe even most of the times, I would think people think, I’m burned out. I need to find a new job. And I would suspect that that doesn’t always need to be the answer.
Right. And, you know, a new job comes with its own set of complications.
And sometimes it’s how do you find the ways to build support or to see your results and you can work with your current employer to get to that point where what you’re doing brings back the joy it did before.
Yeah, I mean, if you, if you, if you think about, so the bathtub model’s relatively fixed, though everything is based on your perception. If you are willing to change your perception about what the expectations are that you have for yourself, and the results you’re getting, then you can make any job an okay job for you. You can make any job a great job for you if you’re willing to take the right perspective. I mean, think about, I think we’ve all probably met that person who’s in a entry level service job, and they light up, you walk in, and they’re so happy to see you and –
I’m so happy to see them too!
They love their job, and you’re like, boy, I would be so – I would personally not be able to say the same thing to the same people, day after day after day, just not the way that I’m made. But these folks love it. How do they do that? Well, that’s about how do they shift their mindset so that they can love where they are. Right? Like, love the one you’re with.
That – I love that, and thinking about the expectations I’ve told, coached a lot of people over the years who are in or close to burnout that I think it – I never thought about articulating it in that manner. But sometimes I’ll say, is your boss pressuring you? Or are you pressuring you? So many times it’s – we’re doing it to ourselves.
It’s not always that someone else is asking for more, but that we feel like we should be giving more or doing more or working faster or working longer or – so we create that ourselves.
So, Robert, or Terri, how could our listeners reach you if they were interested in learning more or maybe working with your business?
So our website is extinguishburnout.com. There’s contact information on the website. You can get the book on the website, you also get the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. But, you know, reach out to us. We’re happy to help you or even, you know, look around the website. There’s a lot of content there that can help you in lots of different specific areas of burnout.
Very good. And the name of the book, again, is “Extinguish Burnout” by Rob and Terri Bogue. Thank you so much for joining us today. This has been great information.
So JoDee, we’ve got a listener question. “I would like to incorporate more phone interviews or screenings, but my boss believes it’s imperative to have candidates physically come into our office for all interviews. Can you help me make a case for the power of a phone interview?”
Yeah, I have lots of ideas on this one. I get it, that it’s nice to meet people live and face to face, but it just can be, you know, so much more time consuming on both parties. And in today’s market, I think we really have to focus on the candidate experience as well and thinking about how much time, extra time it might be taking for them, how they likely might have to take off work or make a trip or you know, ride a bus or take an Uber or pay for parking or you know, any of those things, especially early on. Now, I certainly – although, you know, lot of companies now, we’re hiring people without ever physically meeting them. I do think it’s nice to meet them at some point. But I think as much as you could do over the phone, or on a Zoom or Skype call, or maybe you can have a face to face conversation, you really have to focus on the candidate experience. So. What do you think, Susan?
Yeah, I do. I do agree I, I’d love a Zoom or a Google Hangout or some other type of way that people can physically see each other at some point, because I think it helps the candidate get more excited, more engaged, but you also, the – by not doing that that way you’re doing in person, you know, there’s sometimes people, they discriminate with – because of unconscious bias. And if they see someone who, there’s something about them that triggers something inside them they – that you may not be making the best interviewing decision or the hiring decision. The great news is by phone, yes, you are relying a lot on speech and that can be difficult if someone has a disability that impacts their speech, but there’s so many other things like someone’s gender or race or –
Age, all those things. If you’re not looking at them, those things are not on the table. So I honestly hope that your boss will give you the shot at doing some of your interviewing by phone, right?
In our in the news segment today, in a summer article in SHRM’s HR Magazine, Victoria Neal wrote about unused time off. In an age where more employers are rolling out unlimited leave policies, many employees still don’t use their allowable time off. Surveys indicate this is due to a fear that it won’t be approved, or that they’ll face an overwhelming workload when they return. Or they worry about job security in an environment where the culture discourages time off. Informed leaders understand that employees who take vacation are happier, more engaged, less stressed, healthier and less likely to quit. We just heard that in our, you know, with our guests today about preventing burnout, and you have to give people time for self care. Companies might consider even a mandatory or minimum vacation policy, not allowing rollover of unused time which I personally feel very strongly about. I don’t allow my employees to roll over unused time because I want them to take time off. And encourage leaders to take time off to send a positive message that it’s okay and it’s a good thing to do.
I think I was a great leader on that front! I took every day of any vacation allowed that – my whole career. And so any of my employees, I think they said, well, Susan’s doing it, I’m doing it.
That’s right! That was a good – you were being a good role model.
All right. Thanks and make it a JoyPowered® day.
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