Burnout: The cost of success, and what you can do about it. 

In today’s uncertain and complex environment, employees face frequent change, increased workload, fewer resources, and more demanding customers and clients. This is a world of work in which we feel guilty about taking a rest.  

It’s almost like there’s a collective delusion that burnout is simply the price we must pay for success. And this mindset is often cultivated and driven from a leadership level.  

We live in a world in which organizations reward hours worked instead of value created and performance over renewal. 

But, the way we’re working is not sustainable. This always-on culture has led to a global energy crisis. Employees everywhere are depleted. 

Clear and present danger 

It’s easy to see why in 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that work-related stress and burnout was going to be one of the world’s most prevalent diseases. WHO updated its definition of burnout as a ‘syndrome’ – conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. For the first time, burnout was defined as an occupational phenomenon. 

How did we get here? 

The burnout and stress that we’re seeing in the workplace didn’t always exist. 

We’re faced with a situation where demand now exceeds capacity. The biggest culprit in this increased demand is technology. Having the world at our fingertips, and in our pockets, has accelerated the pace of our lives unlike ever before.  

Boundaries for work don’t exist the way that they once did. Now, it is very difficult for us to declare an end to our workdays. 

This lack of switching off keeps people in survival mode and this has a detrimental effect not only on our productivity at work but also on our health. Too much time spent in the survival mode leads to burnout. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new and unknown stressors to the world of work. The 24/7 always-on pace accelerated, boundaries blurred, and always being at home made it nearly impossible to fully detach from work.  

On top of that, the social connections normally found at work have all but disappeared. Zoom  replaced face-to-face meetings and water cooler moments disappeared. 

The pandemic exacerbated an already stressed-out global workforce.  

Even if we had an off-switch, would we use it? 

Typically people respond to increased pressure and demand by putting in more hours and pushing harder. But, humans are not machines and we are not meant to operate continuously, for long periods, without renewing our energy. 

But when our bodies send us signals that we’re exhausted, stressed, or depleted—whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually—instead of taking a break from technology or work to recharge our batteries, we push through like there’s no off switch.  

We now live in a world where ‘busyness’ is often seen as a badge of honour. A world in which we feel guilty about taking rest.  

We’re in a situation where people are completed exhausted. They have empty tanks and are operating with only a fraction of the potential capacity they have available to them because they’re not refueling. 

How to make a (real, sustainable) difference 

Burnout is insidious because it happens slowly, over time. It’s been referred to as the erosion of the human soul. It is a myth that burnout can be cured with some time off or a  holiday.  

What is required is a fundamental mindset shift in organizations around what it takes to be sustainably effective.  

The solution is not in pushing harder or working longer hours. More and more and more equals less and less and less over time. 

The solution lies in learning to manage energy more effectively. The more energy you have, the more capacity to work you have and the better able you are to meet the intense demands that come in high performance, deadline-driven environments. 

While time is finite, energy is exciting because it can be influenced, expanded and renewed. 

The Breathe Burnout Fix 

Last year burnout was a big topic and we created a burnout programme to help organisations help their people finish 2020 strong. 

The demand for our programme was even greater this year and it’s not hard to see why. With no end in sight for the pandemic and with the rising new challenges of remote working, collective stress and anxiety skyrocketed to their highest levels in decades for many South Africans. 

The Burnout Fix is a simple, 3-6 week programme delivered in bite-sized sessions and easy-to-consume multi-media content, designed to fit busy schedules. The Burnout Fix also includes a module to equip Leaders to boost their well-being and support their teams. 

What you get –  
  1. ‘Beating Burnout’ Virtual Masterclasses, that educate your people on Burnout symptoms, prevention and recovery 
  2. A digital toolkit customized for your organisation; to help employees re-fuel 
  3. Creative communication to keep people engaged 
  4. Live, interactive, experiential sessions to optimise energy and build personal action plans to prevent Burnout
Employees will learn how to –  


Your people will leave Informed, Inspired and Energised with the mindset shifts and practical tools and strategies they need to thrive. After a year that has stretched everyone to their limits, help your people bounce back.