Beyond Burnout

This blog post on burnout is making the rounds. It deeply resonated with me and many of the coworkers and friends I sent it to.

I was tired. Tired of another monotone day. Tired of my inability to control basic choices that I knew would improve my lifestyle, like my volume of meetings. Tired of 7 hours of Zoom a day, only to try to cram more work in in the evening, to no avail. Tired of unnecessary drama at work - drama for the sake of drama. I was floundering.

That loss of control is draining in a way that nothing else I’ve experienced in the office has been. I spent Sunday nights too tense to sleep knowing that I’d open my calendar on Monday to find the day already filled with Zoom, often double booked.

My anecdotal experience with companies that are Zoom all day, work all night is that the good people are starting to leave in droves. The ones that haven’t left yet have already checked out mentally or are still in denial.

What’s also interesting is that the Great Resignation is hitting blue collar workers with Ford saying 20% of factory workers call out on any given day. Maybe both blue and white collar works are psychologically devastated from the lockdowns, or perhaps they’re different phenomena. Time will tell.

One thing I would safely wager on now is that organizations that can manage burnout will eventually pull way ahead when it comes to recruitment and retention. I’ve heard of mythical companies that have clamped down on meetings, the cult of busyness and moved to Cal Newport-esque systems that facilitate deep work. If I were an investing type, I’d put my money on those companies.