Between being engaged, feeling vital, and feeling burnt-out, there’s a lot of stress and pain that may continue for some time.

In their research, Michael Leiter and Christina Maslach found that one of the factors that commonly tipped workers into burnout was a sense of unfairness.

Where workers felt that decisions were unfair, for example favouritism or cheating, they were more likely to be burned out a year later.

Those workers who experienced improvement in workplace fairness became more engaged.

We don’t need any more reasons to focus on building fairness and inclusion, but here’s a good one anyway.

If we want an engaged, not burnt-out workforce for people to feel alive and vital, leaders should ensure they:

  • Acknowledge achievements, fairly
  • Set realistic work standards and prioritise clear communication about expectations
  • Give workers the resources they need
  • Allow a reasonable degree of autonomy
  • Foster civility and positive, supportive relationships
  • Keep people up to date on what’s going on

These are simple actions that reduce the prevalence of stress and burnout.

See more in my latest Whitepaper #6.

So why are some CEOs so hellbent on getting people back to the office?

 At a time when being fair and inclusive, and taking care of workers to prevent burnout seems more important than ever, it is perplexing to see some of the hard-line approaches being taken to ‘return to the office’.

There was a somewhat whimsical debate on organisations getting workers ‘back to the office’ recently in Vanity Fair.   It contrasted a couple of approaches being taken by US bank CEOs to get workers back into their offices.

James Gorman used the stick:

“Make no mistake about it, we do our work inside Morgan Stanley offices, and that’s where we teach, that’s where our interns learn, that’s how we develop people. On Labor Day, I’ll be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office. Then, we’ll have a different kind of conversation.

If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York. None of this, ‘I’m in Colorado and work in New York and am getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City.’”

David Solomon from Goldman Sachs went for ‘cool’, releasing a new single ‘Learn to love me’ as a carrot. Just add coffee stations and food trucks.

Even so, he also told employees to figure out how to get back to the office, yesterday.

Closer to home, an organisation I know of conducted a staff survey asking them what working arrangements they preferred.

They said, ‘flexibility, please.’

Organisational leaders said, oh no, we want everyone back in the office. Flexibility would compromise the company’s culture!

Will organisations resolve to keep some flexible arrangements to assist with employee retention and well-being?  Will they take responsibility for the prevalence of burnout to build a more engaged workplace?

For something a little more sensible, check out Lynda Gratton’s latest Harvard Business Review offering.

Her key message: when designing flexible work arrangements, focus on individual human concerns, not just institutional ones.


Book a call with me today to find out more about how my executive coaching can help you to focus on flexible working arrangements for your teams, ensuring individuals achieve a more purposeful, productive, and flexible work life balance.

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