Executive Stress and Burnout
It begins with tension in the neck and shoulders before meetings. Next comes the anger about the high expectations of the board member or the client that never seems satisfied. Then the stomach aches and sleepless nights begin to appear more frequently. It can be hard to pinpoint what is wrong or what is causing the stress, but it is there and can quickly do damage to one’s health and happiness. Today’s average business leaders and CEO’s experience high levels of stress, heavy workload and for many- eventual burnout.
Take a look at just how stressed business leaders may be:
- Nearly seven in 10 business leaders are struggling with stress and managing their emotions in the workplace. (Survey by Lee Hecht Harrison.)
- 84% of senior managers, including business owners and directors, feel the need to curb their emotions and natural behavior at work.
- Approximately one-third of leaders and managers are unsure or overwhelmed by the level of stress they experience at work.
- A similar percentage said they struggle to maintain work-life balance.
- Just half of leaders and managers feel they have enough time to do a quality job and only 48% feel they can detach from work.
Well-Designed Programming is Key to Preventing Executive Stress and Burnout
A well-designed wellness program for business leaders is more of a necessity than a luxury. Executives benefit most from an individualized and tailored program that creates greater balance. There needs to be a harmonious focus on physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and occupational health. When leaders begin to strike a greater balance in overall well-being, it allows them to get ahead of stress and burnout. Business leaders should be living through their success, not surviving it.
Core Program Components that Target Employee Stress and Burnout
- A well-rounded wellness program that is completely tailored and customized to fit the individual’s needs: Habit change is unique to each individual. No one is exactly the same on the spectrum of well-being. Anyone can identify certain aspects of their lives that are out of balance. An experienced health coach will help the client focus on the areas that they will benefit from most. Good coaching helps clients build resilience and improve health at the same time.
- Ongoing, one-on-one health coaching as the foundation for lasting results: Behavior change really is a process that with the right guidance, can build confidence and lasting change in that individual. It has to be designed to fit that person’s needs with appropriate timing. It’s this ongoing partnership in health that will provide this and prevent burnout in the long haul.
- For example, Linda came to us with a recent pre-diabetes diagnosis. She was forty pounds overweight and had elevated blood pressure. Our health coach began by talking to her about her health risks and lifestyle habits. When the coach began to really drill down, the greatest concern identified was Linda’s poor sleep habits. A long time sufferer of insomnia and insufficient sleep was the real root of Linda’s health risks. Telling Linda to do more cardio and lower her caloric intake was not going to have that great of an effect. Addressing her sleep issues and inability to manage stress needed to be a priority. The coach focused first on getting Linda the right medical support and giving her the correct tools to begin improving her sleep habits. Other health habits were gradually brought into focus over time.
- Within three months, Linda was sleeping an additional two hours a night, got her blood pressure back to a normal range and lost ten pounds. Linda lowered her blood pressure slightly in this time but is still considered pre-diabetic. As her sleep cycle continues to improve, her cravings for sugary and starchy carbohydrates are improving. A well-trained coach will recognize that this would now be a more appropriate time to address this healthy habit.
- Ongoing education that includes practical learning on a variety of stress management skills: There are many avenues to managing stress. What works for one executive may not work for another. Recognizing daily behaviors and habits that lead to higher risk of burnout is an important first step. Really getting to know that person is the only way to achieve this. Our extensive health and well-being assessment, for example, helps our coach identify those red flags and how best to help the individual address them. Introducing and teaching a variety of stress management techniques over time prepares leaders to handle high-pressure times.
- Seeing the personal and professional aspect as one in the same: Leaders cannot always check everything at the office door. If a person is neglecting their health or not happy in their personal life, they will eventually be affected professionally. Executive coaching and wellness programming is about helping leaders to strike a more ‘ideal’ balance. It will not be a perfect balance all the time, but completely ignoring this is detrimental to professional success. Becoming successful is one thing, but handling success is another. In order to sustain the pressure that comes with leadership and decision making, you must keep a focus on physical and mental health. Spending time with a coach each week can open up more energy and patience for the daily demand of a leader’s role.