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Breaking The Myth – Burnout Is An Organizational Responsibility, Not A Personal Problem

Written by: Mykella Auld, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Mykella Auld

In today's fast-paced society, burnout has become an all too familiar companion for many individuals in the workforce. Yet, despite its prevalence, burnout is often misunderstood as a personal responsibility rather than a cultural issue rooted in societal and organizational systems. This misconception not only perpetuates the prevalence of burnout but also undermines efforts to address the root causes. It is time to bust the myth surrounding burnout and recognize it for what it truly is—a collective challenge that demands societal solutions.

Shot of a stressed out young woman working in a demanding career

One of the most pressing challenges facing modern workplaces is burnout. In today's fast-paced society, where the line between work and personal life is increasingly blurred, many individuals find themselves grappling with chronic stress, exhaustion, and disillusionment. Burnout is not merely a personal issue; it's a systemic problem that can have far-reaching consequences for not just humans, but organizations as well.


Work is more than just a means to earn a paycheck; it is where we spend a considerable portion of our waking hours, shaping our identities, relationships, and aspirations. Therefore, fostering a healthy work culture is not just a luxury but a necessity, as work culture has a profound impact on our wellbeing, social-emotional development, sense of community, and overall happiness.


However, the reality is that many workplaces fall short in prioritizing holistic wellbeing and fostering healthy cultures. Burnout, often is a consequence of chronic stress, long hours, and toxic work environments. Burnout not only takes a toll on individuals' mental and physical health but also undermines organizational effectiveness and profitability.


Myth busting


Burnout is not a personal issue! Burnout is an issue created by societal, cultural, and organizational systems and norms. People carry the burden of burnout, but commonly advised measures such as exercise, sleep, and mindfulness (while great personal practices for wellbeing) do not solve the problem.


Let’s imagine!

You are a year into a new relationship and your partner starts to disregard your boundaries. They start asking you to show up for them in ways that go beyond what you both had initially agreed to and when you try to push back they don’t seem to hear or respect your point of view. They start excluding you from decision-making about important things like how you both spend your time together, how you both spend your money, and at the same time they start to remove their support and availability from you.


If you brought these concerns to a friend would they tell you, “this is a part of being in a relationship” or “what did you expect when you decided to date?” Or could we expect that they would tell you this is not an acceptable way to be treated?


I think I can assume for all of us, that your friends and mine would tell us we deserved better. They would not put the responsibility of this mistreatment on us. These same expectations need to apply in relationships with employers. People get burnt out when they are overworked, when they lose control over their schedule, and when they lose their ownership over their work and are excluded from decision-making.


People get burnt out because our organizations start to require them to take on work outside of their job description without support. People get burnt out because the rules of engagement become broken and when they try to set boundaries they are either ignored or consistently encroached on.


How to address burnout through collective solutions


  1. Empower employees: Empowerment is key to preventing burnout. Employees at all organizational levels need to feel empowered to take ownership of their work, make decisions, and voice their concerns without fear of retribution. Cultivate a culture and practices that highlight everyone's leadership, everyone in the organization is either a personal leader over their work or a professional leader in their job title. Either way everyone is treated as a leader. In doing this we create a culture of trust and autonomy that can enhance job satisfaction and reduce feelings of overwhelm and stress.

  2. Foster a healthy work culture: Cultivating a healthy work culture is essential for preventing burnout. This includes reviewing organizational values, norms, practices, and policies in a co-collaborative leadership model. Building work cultures that are healthy and make people feel like they belong, are cultures that are going to make people less stressed, overwhelmed, and sick. This is how we increase healthy cultures, in doing so organizations are collectively able to make decisions and changes that better support staff.

  3. Commit to growth: Organizations must be willing to commit to growing and addressing underlying systemic issues that contribute to burnout, such as excessive workloads, lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities, and leadership support. This may involve restructuring workflows, redistributing tasks, or providing additional resources and support where needed. By committing to growing, organizations can create healthier and more sustainable work environments for their employees.


Engaging with burnout as a culture problem requires us to evaluate our current societal narrative. Tackling burnout requires a collective effort to challenge existing norms, empower individuals, and foster cultures of wellbeing within workplaces. By recognizing burnout as a systemic issue and implementing collective solutions, we can cultivate environments where individuals thrive, organizations prosper, and overall societal well-being is enhanced.


Ready to take the next step? Help drive organizational innovation with a customized leadership and culture strategy for your organization using our research backed models. Available coaching and technical assistance topics include organizational well-being, leadership development,equity diversity inclusion and belonging, and psychologically safe organizational culture strategies to contribute to the overall thriving of individuals and communities. Mykella invites readers to join her in making 2024 the year of personal and professional well-being.

Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Mykella Auld Brainz Magazine

Mykella Auld, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mykella Auld, M.Ed., is a pioneering thought leader in organizational culture and leadership. As the Founder and Executive Coach of Culture and leadership at The Work Well Studio, she propels organizations toward psychologically safe, equitable cultures prioritizing well-being and belonging. A culture strategist and equity advocate, Mykella, empowers organizations through critical thinking and relationship-building. Rooted in her experience as a lead researcher and author, on best practices in practical applications for Trauma-Informed and Anti-Racist social emotional development. She is committed to sparking transformative change.



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