I talk to a lot of people. Lately I’ve been noticing a trend. People want better. They want better experiences, better friendships, a better job, better food, just better. As I talk to these people, I find that it’s not so black and white, it’s just…bleh. When first speaking to these people about their job, one might think, yep, that person is completely burned out. They are done. When discussing further, you might expect there was some big dramatic event, like, “well this happened and then that’s when I knew I needed a change.” There’s none of that. In fact, these people are full of ideas. Almost animated, about what could be. These people aren’t upset, they want improvement. They are in limbo. In that space between wanting better and not being empowered to make it better. We don’t even have language in our vocabulary to discuss this. People are having a hard time describing their feelings, because they don’t know what to say. We don’t know if this is actually a thing, because, since we can’t describe it, it doesn’t exist.
There is a quiet rumble happening. It’s right under our feet, coming up through our bodies and into our bones. We are tired of, the businesses we frequent, the employers that pay us and the clients that we engage with, not having the ethics, morals and fortitude that we expect. What these people are starting to understand is that they have a vote. They have options and a choice. They are choosing to stand up for something they believe in, something that is better and they are exercising that choice by not choosing to work for or frequent, those businesses anymore. Burnout is a symptom of oppression. People can feel oppressed by the stagnation of their job, the overwhelming feeling that they might be fired or simply because they are overworked. Businesses that perpetuate this by telling their employees they are lucky to have a job or don’t understand that employees have a life outside of their job, take notice, your lack of structure and planning is literally pushing your employee’s out the door.
There is hope. With employees having more choices they can feel confident voicing their opinions. In fact, we’ve all heard many coworkers and colleagues complain, but never mention a resolution. Yes, the feeling might be futile, but what if you can actually affect change? What if your ideas can change the course of that business? Leverage your ideas to fuel that passion and drive to make things better. Voice your solution. Employers can do the same, by creating structure and processes to accept and implement these ideas. From this you will create a culture of innovation and loyalty. These words are easy to say and implementation can take time, but as a business owner, you also have a choice not to keep a person who is not willing to change. Burnout can affect employers too, making them feel trapped by their own business. Knowing that people are going to come and go in your business, should motivate you to create processes to handle that ebb and flow. Businesses should never feel held hostage by their employees.
Essentially what we are doing here is creating balance. A more collaborative environment where communication is productive. This “us versus them” attitude between Employer/Employee and Employee/Employer has to change. Employers need to be open to new ideas that employees have, because they are on the front lines. In addition employers need to be transparent as to why certain policies and processes exist. A “because I said so” policy just doesn’t work anymore. Employees will be challenged to separate themselves from the “I want this” versus the “We need this” scenario. I’ve always told people to understand that there are many facets to how a decision is made and don’t assume you know all of them. There is a shift that is happening. This uneasiness that is popping up in the form of burnout is part of something bigger. What I’m alluding to in this post is a structural shift in how we work and our relationship to those that give us work. In the end it will be better for both parties, but until it get sorted out, it’s going to be one hell of a roller coaster ride.