The next pandemic will be a burnout pandemic.
A disconnect is being revealed as wellbeing becomes a bigger priority: people think they need to maintain an incredible level of high performance all year round, but that is just not possible.
High performing teams is the focus for many organisations in 2023, with talent retention and hiring challenges being felt. The term ‘human resources’ makes it easy to forget that you’re dealing with humans – not resources.
We are living in a world which massively undervalues the importance of recovery and rest; we need to rest in order to keep the collective nervous system of a team working, and avoid mass burnout.
So what’s the answer? Cadence.
Cadence in this setting means energy management. For example, an effective way of working to get high performance from your teams requires 3 stages:
- Peak performance
Let’s take a look at each one.
Even in fast-paced environments of turbulence and change, there needs to be time for preparation. Think of any big project or task; there will be a period of planning and thinking through everything that needs to be achieved. This step is vital to help people understand what is to come, identify any support they may need and make sure they are fully resourced for the task.
2. Peak performance
This is the part that most people focus on – the output. When people are fully prepared, motivated and united as a team to work towards a shared objective, they can achieve incredible things and be highly productive. But this is not a permanent state.
And here’s the underrated phase of the cycle. We cannot expect people to work in peak performance for long periods without running into problems with burn out, stress and anxiety. Without recovery, people lose all the motivation and focus they felt after the preparation stage – which is why it’s critical that we break for a period of recovery before starting the cycle again.
Burnout is becoming an increasing risk as we ask more from our people than ever before. The mistake many companies fall into is the practice of piling on offers that aim to ‘improve wellbeing’; gym memberships, access to counselling, online platforms, and hoping that this will enable people to perpetually work at peak performance.
The other problem is, most of these self-improvement opportunities miss out the one thing that is key to having good wellbeing. They forget to teach people that wellbeing, at its core, is about being mindful and reflective about your own needs.
Companies are sending out the message that wellbeing is an ‘outside-in’ job – and this is just not the case. You can’t fix your wellbeing with outside tools, and you can’t be mindful about your needs when you’re constantly working at full capacity.
We need to dismantle the old belief of constant high performance, and start practicing cadence and proactive wellbeing – but it needs to be encouraged systematically in an organisation.
Wellbeing is something we’re so passionate about (as you might have guessed!) – we actually dedicate a whole masterclass to teaching the skill of proactive wellbeing on our flagship Master Programme.