The Unpulled Lever in the Burnout Battle

Burnout continues to rage. We're seeing it, we're feeling it, and mental health and talent attrition data back this up.

Companies and leaders are well-intentioned in their collective approaches to managing and mitigating burnout. But I think one critical lever is yet to really be pulled.

I'm seeing organizations utilize, most commonly, the following strategies to mitigate burnout:

  • Wellness Benefits: Company-sponsored yoga classes, access to free counseling, mental health days...
  • Workload Reduction: Efforts...not always strip out non-essential projects or meetings
  • Boundary Management: Attempts to respect...again not always successfully...people's need to balance work and personal - and stating limits that allow for success in all facets of life.

These are all great mitigating strategies. But are they solving - like, truly getting at the heart of - the problem?

These strategies all presume burnout is largely an issue of quantity. That overload and volume are the core drivers.

But burnout is bigger than size. It's also - equally, if not more so - about interest, engagement, creativity.

So enter the untapped solution: Innovation.

I don't mean Steve-Jobs-Elon-Musk-Richard-Branson-style Innovation.

I mean a focus on - an investment in - daily practices, actions, and behaviors that infuse a creativity into the DNA of doing business, daily.

I mean open invitations to teams to pose questions - those coming from a place of wonder, of curiosity. I mean a willingness to make small tweaks to processes and services. I mean calling meetings whose purposes are to explore, to debate, to expand minds into new territories.

Burnout isn't just a quantity problem. It can also stem from disengagement, from boredom, from feeling underutilized from a content and imagination perspective.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Related: The Burnout Antidote: It's Not What You Think