By | Kavitha Hemanath | An absolute advocate to being truly human | HR at Hexaware Technologies
Articles about work induced stress and burnout are in plenty. Thanks to the pandemic and the new normal of working from home, burnout is finally receiving the attention and seriousness it deserves. But, it is still the elephant in the room. It is the one thing everyone is aware of, everyone is struggling with but yet everyone chooses to ignore. We pretend that it isn’t slowly eating away the good parts of our lives.
All is definitely not well, and this is predominantly because you and I – we are only human. Added workload, approaching deadlines, switching between multiple tasks, meeting that target, getting the pitch right, beating the clock is sadly the norm. And an employee who can manage to achieve all of this and still stay sane isn’t many, a superhuman!
What we need to do is get it out there, speak openly about the times we aren’t at a 100%, when work squeezes out the maximum of off us, when our battery is drained by the middle of the week, by a Wednesday!? What then happens to the work, and more importantly what then happens to you on Thursday and Friday?
How do we handle this? Some basics:
- Have open conversations
- Stop undermining the importance of your mental health
- Stop assuming that the world will see your time off as unproductive
- Seek support – find/make a safe space of people who understand and are willing to help
Nike recently announced a week off for its employees as a form of mental rest. Mental rest helps recharge and refocus. In the blur of autopilot work that we end up doing, scope for great work diminishes.
We end up meeting just the basic requirements, never exceeding expectations. Our creative juices are blocked from flowing as the tasks pile up and our minds shut down. Our brain is then on survival mode, focused on saving energy. So, let’s not taboo the need for mental break as a black-mark in our score card, or as he-is-going through-something, or she-can’t-handle-the-stress stereotypes.
Non-judgmental mental rest is the big reset we need.
Let’s begin by being honest to the people around. Let’s be honest to ourselves, that you and I need a breather. It might not always be possible for an organisational policy to come in place; not all organizations are as big as Nike to be able to halt work and give employees a week off – that requires mammoth resources, exhaustive planning, exceptional support and of course a brand so big, that it has a safety net to fall back on.
As for the rest of the world, each organization has been trying. They have been trying their best to provide the support needed; with employee assistance programs, awareness camps, talks, conferences, support systems, doctors on call, 24/7 helplines and others.
Beyond a measure the onus is on you and me to take the call that, ‘Today I do not feel a 100%. I feel extremely stretched and this is impacting my productivity and focus, increasing my anxiety, causing stress, impacting my relationships, deteriorating my health and hence, I will take a break from work, to rest, reset and refocus.’
To reboot, recharge, restart. I will not wait for rock bottom, not wait till it’s too late. I’ll find the cues and take charge. And I will trust the people around me, my team to understand.
Simple. Can we do that? We should do that.