Burnout, Beyonce and The Great Resignation

Beyoncé’s new song could become the anthem for the Great Resignation.

Her new single, “Break My Soul” sends a clear message that burnout is actually NOT the price we must pay for success.

For a long time we’ve ignored the data and the science around peak performance. The way we’ve been working is no longer working – powering through beyond exhaustion, like machines. If you think about it, the goal with machines is to minimize downtime and we’ve been going along with this antiquated thinking. But this thinking is faulty and needs to be re-examined.

I’ve been speaking about the paradigm shift in corporate thinking that’s necessary to develop more sustainable ways of working. In my view, Beyonce’s single is a HUGE win for helping us move closer to this shift.

Lyrics like “And I just quit my job, I’m gonna find new drive, Damn, they work me so damn hard,” are evidence that people everywhere now expect more from their lives and their work. People are no longer willing to be treated like machines. The ‘more-bigger-faster’ thinking that we inherited from the industrial era no longer serves us – and employees know it.

A silver lining from the pandemic is that people had the opportunity to reflect on what’s important, and wellbeing came up tops. In fact according to this recent Gallup article , wellbeing is even more important than career growth for 2022 and after income, an improvement in wellbeing and work-life balance is the biggest motivating factor in moving to another company.

Beyonce’s song should be a wake up call to companies who think that caring for their people ends with having an EAP or a weekly wellness workshop or a monthly step challenge.

We need to look at what’s making people quit.

I think we need a better way to work.

Afterall, we are not machines. We are not designed to work continuously, to the point of exhaustion and burnout. In fact, all the latest science makes it very clear that for the human operating system, downtime is the best way.

Beyonce knows it. Now companies need to get on board.

And they need to understand that wellbeing can be positively or negatively impacted by many things in an organization. It’s not just about offering meditation programmes or wellness Wednesdays or unlimited leave . All of those things are important but we need to be looking at what is causing people to burn-out in the first place.

Companies need to embrace a stronger and better workplace where people can truly thrive and perform well and where wellbeing is embedded into every aspect of the employee experience. And this starts with leadership.