Posted by: healingtheworkplace | January 23, 2012

How To Avoid Burnout In 2012

According to Kristi Searle of Peoplebiz Consulting,

“preventing staff burnout comes down to flexibility, work-life balance, communication, having the latest tools and understanding what makes Vancouver particularly stressful.”

This quote is from a recent interview with Lorne Matlin who writes for Business in Vancouver (BIV).

What I like about Kristi’s approach is that she encourages leaders to look outside their organizations to understand what might be contributing to the stress experienced by employees.

This is also known as an environmental scan…an approach not usually seen in discussions about preventing burnout.

Let’s look at each of Kristi’s ideas individually:

  • Flexibility: This applies to both individuals and organizations. We all need to be more flexible than ever. This includes being open to continued learning as the world and our workplaces keep changing.  I could substitute the word resilience for flexibility. Research has shown that resilient people are better able to manage stress and avoid burnout.
  • Work-life Balance: I don’t hear this talked about much outside of Human Resources circles. Balancing work and the rest of life also implies a degree of flexibility.  If at all possible organizations must allow people to have flexible working hours. Of course this depends on the type of work that needs to be done.
  • Communication: Not knowing what is going on in an organization can be stressful especially if the organization is going through a lot of changes. Without clear communication from the top rumours become rampant and people spend their time trying to guess what is going to happen next.
  • The Latest Tools:  This goes beyond the obvious (hardware, software, and training) and includes clear job descriptions and the tools to be able to do the work efficiently and effectively (e g people skills, leadership skills, team skills).
  • Understanding the External Environment or Community: Kristi Searle is the first person I’ve heard refer to the environment as a potential cause of stress and burnout. There could be many reasons to look at the environment when considering how to support employees– including the high cost of housing, the commute to work, changing demographics, shortage of daycare for young children, and the high cost of living in general.
  • Teamwork: Being part of a team and sharing the workload can be a blessing or it can be a nightmare. During stressful times workers may find themselves fighting with each other.

I’ll leave you with another BIV quote–this one’s from Jamesie Bower, owner of Staff Systems in Vancouver,

 “As employers we have to be much more nurturing than we have been in the past. When I started in this industry the employer was king and that was that. Now I think it’s definitely a 50 – 50 road.”

Nurturing employers! What a wonderful idea!

Cheers, Lesley



  1. I have found more than my fair share of inequalities in the workplace. I recently was interviewed by a man who made some appalling statements about obesity and age. I quickly decided, even though he had not seen me and would not of hired me on both of those accounts….I would never want to work for an employer like him.

    • HI Kristi, sounds like you made the right decision. Lesley

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