“I felt like I slammed myself against the wall,” says Jan Byars, Ph.D., president of LeadSync, which provides professional training and coaching. “I just kept pushing through, even to the point of my legs feeling numb.” Soon after, Byars says, she couldn’t push forward any longer. It was more than exhaustion; there was a disconnect that was impossible to see. It was a hidden problem burning inside of her—and burning her out.
“Now that I’ve been through it, I see it developing in many of my clients,” Byars says. “It’s actually built into our culture.”
Buildings typically have firewalls designed to prevent the spread of a fire should one break out in part of the building. However, most organizations don’t have protections in place to prevent burnout from spreading from one person to the next.
Tamra Perry, human resources coordinator at Blazer Industries Inc., a modular building manufacturing company based in Aumsville, Ore., recalls her concern that a previous organization had become so large that it lost the “team” aspect and was vulnerable to burnout. The community that had once been able to look out for and support its members just wasn’t the same.
Burnout impacts us on multiple levels. Personally, people struggle with the physical and psychological symptoms. Organizationally, burnout prevents engagement, teamwork, productivity and employee longevity. However, this doesn’t have to be the case: Burnout is avoidable, and if employees are already there, it’s reversible.