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Businesses The Almighty Buck IT

Employee Burnout Is a Problem with the Company, Not the Person (hbr.org) 262

Employee burnout is a common phenomenon, but it is one that companies tend to treat as a talent management or personal issue rather than a broader organizational challenge. That's a mistake, reads an article on HBR. From the article: The psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees, which cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S., are just the most obvious impacts. The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent. [...] When employees aren't as productive as they could be, it's usually the organization, not its employees, that is to blame. The same is true for employee burnout. When we looked inside companies with high burnout rates, we saw three common culprits: excessive collaboration, weak time management disciplines, and a tendency to overload the most capable with too much work. These forces not only rob employees of time to concentrate on completing complex tasks or for idea generation, they also crunch the downtime that is necessary for restoration.
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Employee Burnout Is a Problem with the Company, Not the Person

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nothing like sitting through a .25hr scrum daily meeting and it turning into 1.25hr/daily. By the time it's over I could go take a nap!

    • by orasio ( 188021 )

      That's not a scrum meeting.
      It's probably a daily meeting, but you are not doing scrum.

      If you were doing scrum, you would quickly identify that as an obstacle, and get it out of the way. That's what retros are for.

    • a .25hr scrum daily meeting

      Wait until you're "matrixed" into multiple projects. Then you can attend three or four daily (one or two hour) "standup" meetings!

  • It's 99.999% the fault of management. Most of them know *nothing* about what and how things are being done - in IT, I think some of them believe that you just have to point and click and it's done.

    I worked for Ameritech, the former Baby Bell, in the mid-nineties, in what was a startup division. For more than a year and a half, I was working 9, 10, 12 and some 16 hour days. I was getting paged frequently. About a year and three quarters in - I was in just over 2 years, and left as they announced the beginnin

  • I think everyone who isn't a sociopath is going "duh" right now. Explaining this to someone who is a sociopath is like challenging religion. They are already dead to the logic we use to arrive at this conclusion.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday April 06, 2017 @12:40PM (#54186297)

    ...You may wonder who exactly *is* incompetent in my post. I am referring to company leadership that has got no clue about how things run.

    Sometimes, they do have a clue, but pretend not to know; or provide "non answers" or "non solutions" to real issues.

    In many cases, these managers have risen up the ranks of the company solely because of *nepotism* and not capability.

    Sometimes, they have risen because of "who you know" for lack of better terminology...

    Sometimes they have risen because they [have] provided a "service" or "favor" to the founders or influential parties. I will leave the nature of this service or favor to your imagination...

    And BTW, this is very common in today's USA as well. I am speaking as one who lives right here in this blessed "land of the free."

  • Two weeks is an insult not a vacation, and you don't even have the decency to mandate that insult.

    • I'll take my vacation sure! But while I'm gone it's one more opportunity for them to "forget" how much work I do. And that's working a regular 51 hours a week (yeah I'm a lightweight in the industry) and being extremely productive while doing so. I'm over 40 in "the biz" so EVEN if I had full certs, and EVEN if they were current, and EVEN with a TON of experience, If I'm let go, I'm unlikely to get employed at anything but the lowest technical position. This has already happened to me once. If I want
      • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

        I'll take my vacation sure! But while I'm gone it's one more opportunity for them to "forget" how much work I do. And that's working a regular 51 hours a week (yeah I'm a lightweight in the industry) and being extremely productive while doing so. I'm over 40 in "the biz" so EVEN if I had full certs, and EVEN if they were current, and EVEN with a TON of experience, If I'm let go, I'm unlikely to get employed at anything but the lowest technical position. This has already happened to me once. If I want to keep paying my bills and supporting my family I can't let that happen again. Fear runs this business in a lot of places.

        You're doing it wrong. It should be the other way around. The company should be afraid that you will leave with valuable experience and knowledge.

        You should only have FOMO, fear of missing out. Someone else grabs a nice opportunity when you're on vacation.

        • I'll take my vacation sure! But while I'm gone it's one more opportunity for them to "forget" how much work I do. And that's working a regular 51 hours a week (yeah I'm a lightweight in the industry) and being extremely productive while doing so. I'm over 40 in "the biz" so EVEN if I had full certs, and EVEN if they were current, and EVEN with a TON of experience, If I'm let go, I'm unlikely to get employed at anything but the lowest technical position. This has already happened to me once. If I want to keep paying my bills and supporting my family I can't let that happen again. Fear runs this business in a lot of places.

          You're doing it wrong. It should be the other way around. The company should be afraid that you will leave with valuable experience and knowledge.

          You should only have FOMO, fear of missing out. Someone else grabs a nice opportunity when you're on vacation.

          When agism is rampant in multiple industries, and when there are people who will work for much less than I am, then the companies have the upper hand.

          I'm not disagreeing that things should be different - just pointing out that they currently aren't.

        • by malkavian ( 9512 )

          Companies have this odd idea these days that everyone is replaceable (well, big companies.. Smaller ones still sometimes have a clue)..
          They often lose the good people, and assume they can replace with anyone, and it can be years later before everything falls over in a catastrophic failure that the good skills would have avoided entirely... Think it was RBS that had a critical failure because they'd got rid of all their good techs, and the 'cookie cutter cost cutting replacements' used to save money made a

      • by Altus ( 1034 )

        I'm the same age and it took me very little time to get a new job when my last place laid a bunch of folks off. Needless to say I take what vacation I can every year.

      • But while I'm gone it's one more opportunity for them to "forget" how much work I do.

        The wonders of a government that doesn't care about it's people, corporations that profit from screwing over its human resources, and that wonderful "at will" working agreements.

        In many countries in the west if someone "forgets" what work you do it's grounds to sue them or get a huge payout on the way out.

  • so long as you've got enough replacements everybody except a few rare geniuses is replaceable. Well, everybody that is except the ruling class. Don't spill the blood of kings and all that rot.
  • 80 hour work week needs to go as well companies that people who work for us the have passion to work from home in there (not so) free time.

    Hire more people if you have deadlines that push endless 60-80 hour weeks.

  • by Torp ( 199297 ) on Thursday April 06, 2017 @01:00PM (#54186457)

    ... and yet they recommend Agile.
    Makes no sense.

    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Thursday April 06, 2017 @01:21PM (#54186599)

      Agile is a manifesto that is hard to argue with.

      Agile as implemented is usually scrum...which is a waste of time by design. Good teams can get results with any formal methodology, usually despite it.

      The problem with agile is management ignores things like 'people over process' and 'hire competent, enthusiastic individuals' and only follow 'ship often' and 'talk to the client a lot'. Using agile as justification for constant spec drift and little thought going into the spec in the first place.

      When someone claims they are 'agile' you should inquire further. The 'hire competent enthusiastic individuals' line has implications. Those people don't work for cheap. If a place is paying 'industry average', they aren't doing agile.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Thursday April 06, 2017 @01:17PM (#54186589)

    it's usually the organization, not its employees, that is to blame

    It is incorrect to suggest that only factors related to work are the cause of burnout and that therefore it is a "company" problem. There can be many issues with an individual's personal life (or their finances, children, partners, parents, neighbourhood or many other sources) that means they are more or less susceptible to "burnout".

    Even two people doing the same work: subject to the same level of professional stress can have vastly different reactions to it, depending on how pre-stressed they already are, or what coping mechanisms they have developed, or not - or even due to their personalities.

    So while the pressures of a job may well add to an already stressed individual's burnout, it is unlikely to be the sole reason for it. Consequently a proper study would have to look at all aspects of a person's life to determine the extent to which their job or their boss or something else caused them to have problems. And therefore it seems reasonable that the solution to a person's recovery could, in many cases, be found outside of their work life, rather than within the company they work for.

    • " Consequently a proper study would have to look at all aspects of a person's life to determine the extent to which their job or their boss or something else caused them to have problems"

      Well i didn't read the article, but i assume they controlled for this and used statistics. Statistics that take into account people being people and having human traits and such which bias things.

      After accounting for all that (which i would hope they did) you can then blame different companies for different levels of burnou

  • by computational super ( 740265 ) on Thursday April 06, 2017 @02:10PM (#54186913)
    Open offices, too. But the fact that they're so popular suggests that the people who are making the decisions really just don't care about the consequences; they're just hanging on until retirement.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's not kid ourselves. Burnout happens because people no longer care about their jobs. Why? Because there is no benefit to working any harder.

To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.

Working...