Tag Archives: burnout

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of May 2024

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of May 2024Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are May’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Five Lessons from the Apple Car’s Demise — by Robyn Bolton
  2. Six Causes of Employee Burnout — by David Burkus
  3. Learning About Innovation – From a Skateboard? — by John Bessant
  4. Fighting for Innovation in the Trenches — by Geoffrey A. Moore
  5. A Case Study on High Performance Teams — by Stefan Lindegaard
  6. Growth Comes From What You Don’t Have — by Mike Shipulski
  7. Innovation Friction Risks and Pitfalls — by Howard Tiersky
  8. Difference Between Customer Experience Perception and Reality — by Shep Hyken
  9. How Tribalism Can Kill Innovation — by Greg Satell
  10. Preparing the Next Generation for a Post-Digital Age — by Greg Satell

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in April that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last four years:

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Six Causes of Employee Burnout

GUEST POST from David Burkus

There’s this simple misconception when it comes to burnout. We tend to think that burnout comes from just working too hard—putting in too many hours per week, exerting too much energy, and tipping your work-life scale out of balance. As a result, leaders and companies have sought to combat burnout by offering “rest” as a generic cure-all for their drained and disengaged people.

They’ve added greater flexibility programs (even before the pandemic), brought self-care opportunities into the office, and some have even become more serious about vacation time. And these programs aren’t without benefit, but it became obvious fairly quickly that the returns on the rest investments were limited (again, even before the pandemic added new stress).

The reason is that burnout comes from many sources—and anti-burnout efforts need to address all of these sources to truly be effective. So in this article, we’ll review the six true causes of burnout and offer some practical tips for leaders to mitigate the damage from these causes.

1. Excessive Workload

The first cause of burnout at work is excessive workload—and at first glance excessive workload looks like too much work. But excessive workload refers to juggling multiple projects, not having clarity on which one to focus on, and not knowing what next steps are for some. It’s not about hours worked, but rather the feeling that no matter how many hours are worked, work isn’t getting completed.

Excessive workload often sneaks up on the best performing people, because as they do good work, more work gets assigned to them. To prevent this, leaders need to keep track of how many projects they’re asking their people to take on. And if adding more to the workload, leaders can make priorities clear—even going so far as to state which projects are no longer a priority can go a long way to reducing excessive workload.

2. Poor Relationships

The second cause of burnout at work is poor relationships. Even if the workload of employees isn’t overwhelming and the project requirements aren’t confusing, doing the work with toxic colleagues can quickly lead to burnout. Poor relationships not only trigger feelings of dread as people begin the workday, but during the workday toxic coworkers can trigger many of the other causes of burnout on this list by being too demanding, too critical, or too lazy and adding to the workload of their colleagues as a result.

That’s why smart leaders focus on the relationships and cohesion of a team even more than they focus on whether the team is stacked with talented members. They know that individual performance is a function of team dynamics and work to build bonds on those teams. Leaders can help repair some of the relationship damage by seeking to create shared understanding between the team around differences in personality, preferences, and other contextual factors of the team. In addition, creating shared identity among members reinforces the idea that they’re truly one team and need to put personal differences aside.

3. Lack of Control

The third cause of burnout at work is lack of control. Lack of control refers to how much (or rather how little) autonomy employees have over their work. When individuals get to have a say in what projects they take on, or at least how, when, and where they tackle those projects, they’re more motivated and produce better quality work. But when a micromanager is hovering over their shoulder (or virtually hovering via constant check-ins or monitoring software) then those same people become demotivated and burnt out.

Leaders can’t always decide what projects their teams work on, but there’s always creative ways to increase autonomy on the team. If the project itself is a must-do, then leaders can discuss with the team who does what to get it done. If the deadlines are nonnegotiable, teams can still decide what the checkpoints or smaller deadlines look like. It may not seem like much, but a little autonomy goes a long way toward soothing burnout.

4. Lack of Recognition

The fourth cause of burnout at work is a lack of recognition. When people feel like they’re good work isn’t noticed, it becomes harder and harder for them to motivate themselves to keep working. And when they’re juggling multiple projects through excessive workload or juggling multiple toxic coworkers because of poor relationships, a lack of recognition compounds the problem. It’s difficult to take the time each day or each week to recognize each person’s contribution, especially when the demands of the work keep rising.

But it’s essential that leaders find time to praise the people on their team and express gratitude for their contribution. Moreover, it’s vital that leaders connect that recognition to the work with as little delay as possible. Just keeping track of wins and sharing them later in the annual performance review may get those wins documented, but it won’t reduce burnout in the people performing the work unless those wins are praised in the moment as well.

5. Lack of Fairness

The fifth cause of burnout at work is a lack of fairness. Doing great work and having it noticed is important, but feeling like that work is not getting as much notice as mediocre work done by another person or team can quickly diminish any positive effect from recognition. Likewise, feeling like another person or team is cutting corners or breaking rules and not being sufficiently reprimanded can spike feelings of unfairness that lead to burnout.

Depending on their power or place in the organizational chart, leaders may not be able to do much about an overall lack of fairness in the company. However, that doesn’t mean they’re powerless. In situations of unfair recognition, leaders can fight for the team to get greater notice and make sure people notice the fight. But in situations of unethical behavior, sometimes the best thing is to lead their team to a more just organization.

6. Purpose Mismatch

The final cause of burnout at work is a mismatch between the company’s purpose and the personal purpose or values of the individual. We want to do work that matters, and we want to work for leaders who tell us that we matter. But often in the quest to define an organizational mission statement, grandiose visions about stakeholders and society can actually blur an individuals’ ability to see how their work contributors to something so big. Or, if they see it, they may not feel as inspired about it as the senior leaders who wrote it during a consultant-led offsite and the lavish retreat center.

Smart leaders know their people’s values and what aspect of the work resonates most with them, and they know how to reinforce how the day-to-day work meets that personal desire for purpose. Most often, this is best done by connecting the team’s tasks to the people who are directly served by the team. We often think of purpose as “why we do what we do” but for many people, purpose is better stated as “who we help through the work that we do.”


Looking at the full list, it becomes apparent why merely reducing hours worked or adding a few self-care programs falls short of banishing burnout. Leaders need to take care of more than just the physical when it comes to keeping people productive and healthy. They need to talk about purpose, and make sure that purpose is being served in fair way. They need to make sure people have a clear picture of expectations and are recognized when they meet those expectations. By addressing all of these causes, leaders can turn their culture from one that drains people to one that leaves them feeling more energized than when they started. And that will make a huge difference in whether or not people feel burnt out or whether they feel like they’re doing their best work ever.

If you prefer a video version of this article, you will find it here:

Image credit: Pexels

Originally published on LinkedIn on December 21, 2021

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Advances in the Management of Worthless Meeting Syndrome

Advances the management of worthless meeting syndrome

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers

Now that we have all been stuck inside for almost two years, many of us are suffering from an exacerbation of worthless meeting syndrome (WMS) , most recently remotely.

Of course, worthless meeting syndrome is a well-described chronic disease which has periodic exacerbations. It can be endemic or global with recovery and remissions. Here are the signs and symptoms.

One meeting expert notes that bad meetings are the bane of the corporate world — and yet despite what appears to be an overwhelming consensus that they’re often unnecessary and unproductive, many workplaces continue to struggle to avoid them. In this piece, the authors discuss the psychological pitfalls that lead us to schedule and attend too many meetings, and share strategies to help employees, managers, and organizations overcome those challenges. While there’s no way to completely eliminate the universal human biases that drive these tendencies, a greater awareness of the psychological factors at play can help us all work towards healthier communication norms, more-effective interactions, and cleaner calendars.

My recommended treatment is to refuse to attend any meetings:

  1. Where there is no agenda
  2. Where it is informational that could be communicated some other way
  3. Where we discuss what we discussed last time without taking action
  4. Where my input is required to inform a decision or take action on something
  5. Where there is no psychological safety
  6. Where a working group could have done the grunt work offline and reported their findings for approval or modification
  7. On weekends or nights unless absolutely required due to mission critical time zone issues or deadlines
  8. The meeting last longer than 45 min, if not 30
  9. No one takes minutes and there are action items for next (if necessary) meeting
  10. There are more than 7 people in the meeting
  11. Lobby your congressional delegation to make them illegal As remote work becomes more widespread, the parliament of Portugal recently passed a law banning bosses from contacting employees after working hours by phone, message or email. Violations of the new law — designed to “respect the privacy of the worker,” including rest and family time — could result in fines. Employees there have also been given the right to opt out of remote work, and to be reimbursed for expenses incurred while working from home.

Note: Ivermectin has not been shown to be clinically effective.

If your boss insists that you attend and you are accused of not being a team player, then get a note from your doctor. They are available online at www.wms.com

For the meeting junkie who has everything, we are also offering a clock at our WMS store that not only measures the length of the meeting, but also the prorated amount of money you are paying for the people to attend the meeting, similar to the US National Debt clock.

Image credit: BringTIM.com

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Change Fatigue and Burnout

Exploring the consequences of prolonged or excessive change efforts on individuals’ well-being and discussing methods to mitigate burnout.

Change Fatigue and Burnout

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

Change fatigue and burnout have become pervasive issues in today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving world. With organizations striving to stay competitive and adapt to ever-changing market dynamics, employees are often subjected to prolonged or excessive change efforts. This relentless cycle of change can have detrimental effects on individuals’ well-being, leading to high levels of stress, exhaustion, and ultimately, burnout. In this thought leadership article, we will delve into the consequences of prolonged or excessive change efforts on individuals’ well-being and explore methods to mitigate burnout.

Change initiatives can range from organizational restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, new technology implementations, to changes in work processes and even job roles. While change is essential for organizations to thrive, it often comes at a cost for the individuals involved.

One case study that exemplifies the consequences of change fatigue and burnout is the financial sector. Over the past decade, financial institutions have been required to implement numerous regulatory changes to address the aftermath of the global financial crisis. The constant barrage of regulatory changes, along with the accompanying pressure to meet strict deadlines and maintain compliance, has resulted in high levels of burnout among employees in this industry. Research has shown that regulatory compliance officers, for example, frequently experience burnout due to the increased scrutiny and responsibilities placed upon them during periods of regulatory change.

Another case study that demonstrates the detrimental effects of excessive change efforts on individuals’ well-being is the technology sector. Technology companies are known for their innovative and dynamic environments, where change is the norm. While this fast-paced culture can foster creativity, it can also contribute to burnout. Employees in these organizations constantly face shifting priorities, reorganizations, and product launches that demand their full attention and energy. The resulting stress from prolonged or excessive change efforts can lead to decreased job satisfaction, increased turnover rates, and diminished productivity.

To mitigate burnout caused by prolonged or excessive change efforts, organizations need to take a proactive approach. Here are a few methods that can help:

1. Transparent communication and employee involvement: By involving employees in the change process from the beginning and maintaining transparent communication channels, organizations can alleviate anxiety and uncertainty. Employees who feel involved and informed are more likely to have a sense of control over the changes and can better manage their energy levels.

2. Promote work-life balance and well-being: Establishing a supportive work environment that emphasizes work-life balance and well-being is crucial. Encouraging employees to take breaks, providing access to wellness programs, and promoting stress management techniques can help individuals cope better with the demands of change. Google, for instance, offers its employees relaxation rooms, meditation classes, and encourages taking time for personal projects, leading to increased employee satisfaction and reduced burnout levels.


The consequences of prolonged or excessive change efforts on individuals’ well-being cannot be ignored. Change fatigue is a byproduct of our fast-paced world, and organizations must recognize the toll it can take on their employees. By implementing strategies such as transparent communication and employee involvement, along with promoting work-life balance and well-being, organizations can effectively mitigate burnout and cultivate a healthier and more productive workforce. It is time for organizations to prioritize the well-being of their employees while continuing to drive change and innovation.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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