with Mind-Life Project Manager Melody Edwardson
Discussions on burnout that have increased exponentially since the start of COVID with more of us saying we feel burnout. QCOSS held a webinar this week with Dr John Chan from Infinite Potential on his report “The State of Workplace Burnout” and what that means for the Community Sector.
So, what is burnout? Even though the term is bandied about to describe everything from feeling tired from a late night to feeling rundown from too much housework, Dr Chan says burnout is technically a term that only applies to work.
There are 3 aspects to burnout.
Exhaustion This is where you have absolutely nothing left in the tank. You are completely mentally and physically worn out.
Cynicism This is where you feel mentally detached from yourself and from your work, negative, pessimistic, distrusting the motives of your colleagues, organisation, or clients.
Reduced professional efficacy- This is where you feel like you are unproductive and incompetent and lack a sense of achievement. Basically, everything feels really, really, hard.
Burnout can happen to anyone. There are increasingly high rates experienced by all ages. In community services the very highest levels are experienced by women aged 34-46 with a whopping 46% experiencing burnout.
Compensation for serious mental health claims are more than double the amount of payouts for physical health claims. The time lost at work for serious mental health claims is 5 times higher than serious physical health claims. This has a serious impact on the organisation’s bottom line.
A common misconception about burnout is that it if we are burnt out then it is our fault. Even if no one comes out and says it, this is the implication.
Even the solutions most implemented to prevent burnout are focussed on the individual. These include things like mindfulness, resilience training, healthy lifestyle coaching and wellbeing apps. The University of Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre published a working paper in April 2023 that found workers who engaged in these things were no better off and, in some instances, they were harmed.
As Dr Chan says,
“When fish die in a river, we don’t look for more resilient fish, we fix the river”.
Evidence shows that it is more effective to implement organisation wide initiatives. This is obviously harder to do and takes more time.
One of the key causes of burnout is values misalignment between the worker and the organisation. Workers especially in the community sector, are thirsting for meaning and purpose in our work. We need to know that what we do makes a difference to help seekers, to our community and the world.
This is where the Mind-Life can help you and your organisation. Mind-Life started as a movement to create change: to disrupt business as usual and provide a new way of doing things that provides a better, more useful service for help seekers. It provides provocative resources that assist you to avoid the pitfalls in both providing and accessing help. This provides clarity for your role and makes it more rewarding.
One of the key resources are the Mind-Life mindsets. This is a set of 16 key principles that are designed to provoke, challenge and stretch how help provision is currently delivered. Implementing these mindsets may not be easy, but it will be worth it for you and for help seekers.
The mindsets are grouped into 5 themes. I will provide one example from each to give you a taste.
The Construction of Psychosocial Disability-Psychosocial disability is not a symptom of mental illness but a symptom of unmet need.
Human Rights-Being able to live, work, love and play in our own community, not within services, is a basic human right.
The role of others-We cannot empower or motivate others, but we can easily disempower or demotivate others in the way we offer help.
Personal Capacity -People are creative and resourceful problem solvers. This ability can become atrophied when too many or inappropriate support gets in the way.
Community –People thrive when they can realise their full citizenship within their natural community.
Imagine if you and your team or your service or your whole organisation were able to engage with the essence of these mindsets! You would all be on the same page, there would be a strong values alignment and a deep sense of personal satisfaction.
How would you be able to achieve this? One way would be to download the Mind-Life Reflective Practice Guide that walks you through step by step on how to set up a reflective practice group. It walls you through setting ground rules. It also provides some prompt questions for each mindset.
Essentially what this would look like is you would meet regularly with a small group of like-minded people and review your helping efforts against the Mind-Life mindsets to keep each other on track. These groups can be a welcome support network for you as a help provider, reducing burnout, stress and worry.
If you would like help with setting up a Mind-Life practice group we can help. Send us an email or leave a comment below.
All are free to access.