Monday, September 10, 2012


Burnout Redux and the Brain Drain
9 key signs you (or a key employee) could be in the danger zone
Happy Monday. Our recent post about professional burnout obviously touched a nerve. Thanks again for your great comments, even those of you disagreed with us.

As New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman opined yesterday: “The truth is, if you want a decent job that will lead to a decent life today you have to work harder, regularly reinvent yourself, obtain at least some form post-secondary education and make sure you’re engaged in lifelong learning.” In other words, you’re going to have to max out your career goals every day just to keep up with the pack.

Our friend Gavin Pommernelle, President of Darien, Conn.-based HR Talent Driven Value, said “The sad thing is that [burnout] is more and more common now and the loner in the office is getting more company--except that they are all just as stressed. This is partly due to much leaner organizations and people doing everything to protect their jobs.”

Blogger and futurist Seth Godin posted Saturday that it is “sad to think” that the only reason you work is because you get paid to do it. “Now that you've got a skillset and trust and leverage and a following and the tools to make something happen, are you going to invest your heart and soul into something that's important or waste it selling something you're not proud of?”
You also have to factor in the importance of interaction with others. As Pommernelle noted, “Not having time to interrelate with others outside of the day to day role, both socially and professionally, actually hurts your current and future career.”

9 Key Signs of Burnout

Suzanne Burger, Psy.D. points to 9 red flags that signal you or a key employee might be in the burnout danger zone:
  1. A continual increase in job responsibilities, either without a raise, or beyond your ability to comfortably manage.
  2. Having to put on too many faces for too many different people.
  3. Working under a micromanaging boss
  4. Chronic, repetitive, boring work- a job that requires little thought and creativity, one that rarely changes, and offers little challenge.
  5. Required to work long hours to complete your tasks, frequently working more than 40 hour weeks.
  6. Feeling "stuck" in a job or career that is not your ideal job or career.
  7. Having a long history of loyalty to a company, but without receiving expected promotions or raises.
  8. Being consumed by your job, so that your job goes home with you. You may even fall asleep thinking about work and have little or no outside life.
  9. Being forced to work under an oppressive environment, either with difficult or harassing co-workers, or under strict company rules, or strict managers.

While Berger’s “red flags” are designed for the overwhelmed worker, take a moment to consider how many of your key staffers are treading dangerously close to the burnout zone. In this economy, it just takes one well-timed call from a recruiter when they’re having a bad day to convince them to jump ship….and all the smarts and know-how they’ve built up over the years often goes out the door with them.


Gavin Pommernelle, Talent Driven Value, Thomas Friedman, Seth Godin, Suzanne Berger

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