I’ve called this week’s post ‘Human System Crash’ inspired by an update I received this week with the sad news that employee burnout is on the rise, and is a growing problem for the modern workplace.
With UK mental health statistics suggesting that adults have probably never been so tired or overworked, I was shocked to find out at the TEDx event that I was part of this weekend, that the number one reason behind deaths of men aged 20-49 in the UK is not road accidents, knife or gun crime. It is suicide.
And yet we all look so happy on our profile pages…
How can this be? There seems to be a big disconnect between our IRL self and our online self, and I do wonder how this plays out with us when we put our work face on. Like many in the Learning and Development and HR professions, the mind-blowing conversations that people entrust you with when you are with them on a residential/other programme is an enormous privilege. That ability to offer the gift of a safe chat space to share some of life’s pressures, which I hope to think can help someone in the moment feel a little better.
This is why I get the appeal of online chat rooms; a place where it is okay to be you. Could we not bring this environment to an IRL chat room? I think it is vital for people to have someone they can be professionally vulnerable with. I know very senior people often find this the most valuable aspect of having a coach or mentor; it really can be lonely at the upper end of an organisation.
Apart from the costs associated with workplace burnout and absence due to stress-related conditions, there is a moral duty of care to do what we can to ensure that work works for us:
Because we are NOT ROBOTS!
I am fascinated by the role that technology is playing in this. Since the invention of the washing machine for the 1950’s housewife, tech was supposed to be labour-saving to benefit us by increasing our leisure time. I do wonder however, if the 1950’s housewife actually became busier, fuelled by the pressure associated with rising standards of performance.
I’m not sure I would want today’s kids to be any busier than us when they join the workplace; could they really fit any more in?? It’s up to us to role-model the behaviours that will help new recruits have a long and healthy career ahead of them.
So, my gift to you is permission to look after yourself this week. Choose your apps, tech, software, company IT, etc that helps you be more human. Invest in your 3 human skills of Mental Presence (looking after your mind), Personal Resilience (your body) and Emotional Intelligence (soul).
The robots are coming…let’s get them busy so we can start feeling more human in our work again.