Serein

Burnout: Individual Perspectives and Strategies to Reset

Naureen Bhullar

- July 1, 2022

Last year McKinsey reported that “Employee burnout is ubiquitous, alarming—and still underreported.” Nearly 50% of the respondents from both corporate and government set-ups reported burnout symptoms in this study and it was speculated that this number would be higher since the most burned-out employees would have already left their workplace. In a McKinsey report aptly titled, “The Great Exhaustion”, it was reported that employees who were anxious about hybrid work were the ones most burned out, especially if there was a lack of plan for post-pandemic hybrid work. According to the Microsoft’s October 2020 Work Trend Index report, India had the second-highest percentage of workers facing burnout in Asia.

What about personal experiences of burnout and the responses from the managers and leaders? Here are some recent tweets.

June 30, 2022: “Emotional burnout is very real. Don’t beat yourself up for having limits and boundaries” – Charlie Knight

May 2, 2022: “Told my boss that I’m experiencing severe burnout and he told me not to take stress [thumbs up sign inserted]”. – Nisha Ann Ashok

Apr 30, 2022: “Stop recommending therapy for burnout without acknowledging and addressing the institutional problems that cause burnout. You’re unfairly placing the onus on individuals for surviving in a hostile environment. Systemic change is the cure for burnout.”  — Lawren is Openly Black

Apr 26, 2022: “Many of us are in burnout not because we’re doing too much, but too little of what feeds us.” — @drthema – Ore Nicole

Personal conversations

Based on some personal conversations with employees in the corporate world engaged in both remote and hybrid work, some common responses included the following

A: “I felt burnout more during remote work. Now [I am] happier to be back. Communication gaps made us more tired and burnt out.

J: “Change was good earlier when there was a shift to remote work but now it is better to be back.”

H: “What takes 30 min in person took nearly 2.5 hours remotely.”

R: “Burnout was more in remote work with blurring of boundaries of office and personal time. But not having to travel was good [too] as it saved 1 to 2 hours each day that could be used for office work or personal time.”

T: “I liked remote work more. Productivity is more in remote work. Even though there are some gaps in communication, it may take longer than in-person. Eventually, we have to go back to work full-time.”

Factors leading to burnout

According to Gallup’s  research findings, the following five factors correlated strongly with employee burnout in the workplace

  1. Unfair treatment at work: This includes facing bias, favouritism, and mistreatment, and inconsistently applied compensation.
  2. Unmanageable workload: This includes long working hours, having several tasks to finish or having difficult tasks that the employees cannot manage. It is not just about long working hours as employees who are engaged and have job flexibility may work long hours and not perceive it to be unmanageable and experience burnout.
  3. Unclear communication from managers: Managers do not provide employees with information for them to work effectively. This information includes role expectations, partnerships, processes, and impact of the employees’ work.
  4. Lack of manager support: Without the backing of their managers, employees are likely to be feel neglected and lack confidence, especially under challenging conditions.
  5. Unreasonable time pressure: Both unreasonable time pressure and deadlines can snowball into a major issue for employees as they play catch-up with their successive assignments. Unreasonable time constraints are likely to be imposed by leaders or managers who are not aware of the time taken for high quality work. Therefore, this time allocation needs to be examined carefully and performance standards should be fair for the employees so that they can aim for excellence and not settle for mediocrity.

Manager burnout

Managers also face burnout, which can adversely affect the entire team and the organization. If the managers get burnout, the employees cannot hope for much. According to Gallup’s research, managers are even more likely to experience burnout than the people they manage. Therefore, manager burnout has to be tackled first if the organization and the employees are to develop resilience in contexts like the pandemic and the uncertain times that follow it.

Managers face five major challenges: (i). Unclear expectations with multiple competing priorities; (ii). Heavy workload and distractions; (iii). Job stress and frustrations; (iv). Less focus on their strengths as most of their time is devoted to managing others; and (v). Frustrating performance reviews whose accuracy and fairness they are doubtful of.

What can be done?

  • For managers
    • According to Gallup’s research, managers play a key role in preventing burnout and improving work engagement. Since managers play a key role in providing antidotes for burnout for the employees, it is essential to first address manager burnout.
      • Clarify expectations (priorities, barriers) and involve managers in decision-making
      • Right-size workloads and giving managers autonomy and flexibility as long as they achieve their outcomes
      • Emphasize collaboration and reduce stress by having a wellbeing program specifically for managers
      • Remember that managers cannot do it all, as a recent HBR article noted in the current context of remote and hybrid work. The authors of this piece warn of a “looming crisis” for managers as their work has changed substantially in this new context, but they are also expected to fulfil the earlier roles of performance feedback, hiring and laying off, salary decisions, and career development. There is a power shift (from “me” to “we”), skill shift (from task overseer to performance coach), and structural shift (from “static and physical” to “fluid and digital”). Telstra split the management roles into two categories- Leader of people and Leader of work.
  • For employees
    • Great managers proactively share information, ask questions, and encourage employees to share their thoughts. Employees are made aware of their responsibilities, priorities, performance goals and expectations
    • Reduce demands. Stop overloading teams with stressful tasks and expect one person to do multiple jobs. Vacations and perks are not the answers. Neither are yoga or teaching “learning to say no” strategies kind of band-aid solutions.
  • For everyone at the workplace
    • It is not an individual problem and needs compassion for both self and others. Be kind to yourself. Help others when you can and get help when you need. Research show that both other and self-compassion can reduce burnout.
    • Burnout is lower in cultures of care and compassion where there is affection and caring for others in a work setting.
    • Differentiate between toxic and healthy work cultures.
      • A toxic work culture has been cited as one of the top reasons for employee burnout. A toxic culture is also believed to be driving the Great Resignation noted recently. A toxic corporate culture is ten times more likely to impact the attrition rate than compensation.
      • A toxic work culture glorifies workaholism and a lack of sleep. A healthy work culture expects a good quality of life and employees are encouraged to place emphasis on wellbeing.
    • Perks like performance bonus and incentives have been shown to lead people to prioritize work over family and friends as they spend more time with clients and colleagues and enjoy it less. This can be a recipe for burnout as not spending time with family and friends has a negative impact on psychological and physical wellbeing.
    • Do you use holidays to recharge or celebrate festivals? If work is exhausting employees so much that they use this time to recharge themselves, then it is likely to be a burnout culture. A healthy work culture should not leave anyone drained.
    • Do not dismiss fun as unproductive. Research shows that people who view leisure time as unproductive and wasteful enjoy it less and more likely to be anxious, depressed, and stressed.

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Balaji P

Design Consultant

Balaji has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from PSV Engineering College and has practised UX design at Growth School in Bangalore.

As an associate UX/UI designer at Krishworks, Balaji is responsible for collecting client requirements and converting them into usable digital products using UX principles. He also helps in maintaining brand identity and aesthetics in the products by creating UI design systems and high-fidelity screens. For Serein, Balaji has designed the PoSH LMS Product and the website.

Bhavini Pant

Safety and PoSH expert

Bhavini serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in industries like education, healthcare, IT, Pharma, and more. She has 70+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace and supporting partner organizations on the legal procedure and best practices for workplace safety.

Before Serein, Bhavini worked as an archivist at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and as an editorial assistant for IIT Bombay’s PR and Alumni Associations department.

She has a Master’s degree in Education from Azim Premji University where she worked extensively with the management on anti-sexual harassment legal implementation. Her work involved the interpretation of the law in a university as a workplace and an educational institution for adults. 

Dr. Ishani Roy

Founder and CEO

Ishani founded Serein to provide a data and research-based approach to solving DEI challenges at the workplace. She advises company leaders, startup founders, and venture capital firms on industry best practices to increase diversity and design a DEI roadmap.

Ishani is a recipient of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 2023 for the global impact of her work in the DEI space.

Before founding Serein, Ishani was a scientist at GE Research working in the Aerospace Lab. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University on developing mathematical models to solve Astrophysics problems. She did her Post-doctoral studies at the University of Oxford and St. Thomas Hospital in Biomathematics.

Chryslynn D’Costa

Co-founder and CPO |

Chryslynn leads the product development of Serein’s DEI SaaS tool. She designs learning content and strategic insights for companies to measure their DEI growth, and achieve bias-free recruitment and psychological safety.

Chryslynn is a regular columnist with publications like ‘LiveMint’ and ‘The Hindu’ where she writes about unconscious bias, prevention of sexual harassment, and company culture.

Before Serein, she was a Gandhi Fellow working in rural Rajasthan to address educational leadership and gender equity in government schools. She graduated from Azim Premji University in Bangalore with a Master’s in Education where she specialised in gender and sexuality education.

Bianca D’Costa

Head of PoSH: India, Global

Bianca leads the compliance partnerships and workshops on anti-sexual harassment, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. She has 100+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace.

Bianca designs gamified learning modules for a unique and impactful learner experience on topics like gender inclusion, PwD inclusion, LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and regional inclusion among others. 

Before Serein, Bianca worked in hospitality for 5 years with Emirates Airlines. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai. She is presently pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender and Sexuality in Global Politics from SOAS University of London.

Aparna Pandurangan

Head of Operations

Aparna is leading the finance and operations at Serein. She has also been responsible for Serein’s online platform, customer management, and marketing.

She works closely with Serein’s 500+ long-term partners to ensure they are compliant with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law. Aparna is a workshop facilitator on topics like the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace in languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

Aparna Pandurangan holds a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Anna University, Chennai. 

Faakirah Irfan

Head of Legal

Faakirah is a legal professional and expert facilitator on topics like anti-sexual harassment, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. Faakirah has conducted 100+ training sessions on the prevention of sexual harassment for employees and internal committee members.

She has 150+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace. Her legal research at Serein includes policy analysis, human rights, women’s rights, and document drafting.

Faakirah is an experienced legal professional. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in law with a focus on women’s rights and policy analysis from the University of Kashmir. She holds a Master of Law degree specializing in alternative dispute resolution from O.P Jindal School of Law.

Dr. Ruchika Sharma

Guest Consultant: Gender

Ruchika assists with research and facilitation of sessions on domestic violence, sexual harassment, employee well-being, and women’s leadership. She is a feature writer for Serein’s blogs where she writes about gender, women’s history, domestic violence, and sexual harassment awareness in the workplace.

Ruchika is a published author with books like ‘Concubinage, Race and Law in Early Colonial Bengal: Bequeathing Intimacy, Servicing the Empire’ published by Routledge, Taylor, and Francis publications. She has been teaching History at the University of Delhi for over a decade. She has a Ph.D. in History from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Arathi Kannan

Head of DEI: India, Global

Arathi leads the design and execution of DEI measurement tools for global partners. These include Serein’s Diversity Index, the scope of unconscious bias in recruitment and promotions, and the scope of unconscious bias in external messaging. 

She has also designed a standardized tool to review company policies and products through an inclusion lens. Arathi leads workshops on inclusion, unconscious bias, domestic violence, mental health, and well-being. 

Arathi is a published researcher with Master’s degrees in Applied Psychology and Criminology from Bond University, Australia. Her experience includes working with people from different backgrounds, including refugee groups.

Thejaswini CA

LMS Platform Associate

Thejaswini is responsible for the operations and maintenance of Serein’s in-house e-learning platform. She assists customers to deliver learning content and assess employee engagement through Serein’s tracking system. 

Thejaswini is also engaged with finance and other operations to ensure Serein’s 500+ long-term partners are compliant with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law.

Thejaswini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Application from Field Marshal KM Cariappa College, Kodagu.

Rhea D’Silva

Designer

Rhea is the aesthetic and creative eye behind Serein’s marketing and sales collateral. She manages website content and social media content calendar. She works closely with Serein’s content experts to design catchy invites, toolkits, and company culture reports.

Rhea creates animated content for Serein’s learning platform. She is focused on understanding the user’s need for engagement and learning to create impactful content. 

Rhea holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai where she majored in advertising.

Rishab Prasad

DEI Specialist

Rishab is passionate about creating long-term partnerships with Serein’s customers. He is responsible for marketing, operations, customer onboarding, contract writing, and relationship building. Rishab uses his directing and filmmaking skills to design engaging content for Serein’s social media platforms.

Rishab holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with Honours from CHRIST University, Bangalore. He has directed more than nine short films on topics like stigmas of menstruation, widowhood, and adoption.

Kaushik Mazumdar

Engineering and Platform Consultant

Kaushik has 14+ years of experience across IoT, Systems, Gaming, and Telecom, building high volume production applications and products with worldwide presence.

He looks after the technology and education segment of Krishworks, and has built Ed-Tech products to improve English Literacy in rural areas of India with QR coded books, Smart Classrooms, Teacher Trainings and increased involvement of parents.

Kaushik holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. He mentors a young and dynamic team aligned to the vision of Krishworks. Outside of work, he is a fitness and technology enthusiast, and loves running and swimming.

Kirtika N

Safety and PoSH expert

Kirtika is an expert speaker and workshop facilitator on topics like sexual harassment awareness, bystander intervention, and anti-harassment redressal mechanisms. She has developed learning content for investigating committees on topics like witness cooperation in a workplace sexual harassment inquiry proceeding. 

Kirtika serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in fintech, healthcare, business management, gaming, and more. She has 50+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations at the workplace and supporting partner organisations on legal procedure and best practices.

She has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Montfort College, Bengaluru, and has experience working as a trainee counselor.

Sharanya Venkataraghavan

Safety and PoSH expert

Sharanya serves as a PoSH external member for 15+ companies in e-commerce, fintech, healthcare, SaaS, and more. She supports partner organisations on legal procedures and best practices to build safe work cultures.

She has been involved in the review of PoSH policies, labour law compliances, and research regarding the risk of secondary victimisation of complainants under the PoSH Act.

Sharanya graduated with BBA, LLB (Hons.) degree from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She has experience in PoSH and employment law with notable law firms like Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co., J. Sagar and Associates, among others.

Nandini Abraham

Statistical Analyst

Nandini conducts extensive industry-specific research on DEI trends in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. Nandini is responsible for developing statistical models for DEI assessment on Serein’s DEI SaaS Tool. She designs measurement tools for DEI benchmarking, inclusion assessments, and employee experience surveys.

Nandini is passionate about creating engaging and impactful reports, toolkits, and playbooks for Serein’s customers.

Nandini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Mathematics & Statistics from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore.

Nithya R

HR and Compliance Lead

Nithya drives operational excellence within the HR function. She ensures that Serein maintains the highest standards of HR practices and ethical conduct. Her role extends beyond traditional HR responsibilities as she also serves as an External Member of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for Serein’s clients, specialising in preventing workplace harassment through the PoSH vertical.

Nithya has graduated in Commerce from the University of Lucknow and has rich experience in hiring and retaining the best talents in the industry with companies like BukuWarung and Belong.co.

Sri Padmavathi C

Finance Consultant

LinkedIn

Sri Padmavathi C specialises in providing accounting consulting services to companies. She helps in assisting & maintaining Serein’s Books of Accounts, GST, TDS, PT filing, financial statements preparation & audit review.
 
She holds an MBA with Finance Specialisation from Annamalai University, and has also has done CA articleship under CA Tom Joseph’s guidance.

Anisha Debnath

PoSH and DEI Workshops Facilitator

As a PoSH and DEI Workshops Facilitator, Anisha is primarily responsible for conducting sessions and facilitating conversations that enable building of safe and inclusive workplaces for all. Anisha also undertakes in-depth research into various Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues that plague our work cultures today. All of this research goes into designing bespoke sessions and curating interactive learning experiences for several of Serein’s partners. 

Anisha has a background in History, especially in the history of gender and early feminism in colonial South Asia. 

Anisha has a Bachelor’s degree in History (Hons.) from Gargi College, University of Delhi. She has also studied for an MPhil in World History from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Aseem Deuskar

Inclusive Workspace Architect

LinkedIn

Aseem is an Inclusive Workspace Architect dedicated to reshaping workplace diversity and accessibility. He is skilled in conducting comprehensive accessibility audits and implementing inclusive design solutions.


Aseem is passionate about creating environments that foster equal opportunities

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

 

Siri Prasad

Safety and PoSH Expert

Siri Prasad is a Safety and PoSH Expert at Serein and serves as an External Member of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for Serein’s clients. Her work is not limited to, but includes advising in legal procedures, best practices for safe work cultures, and reviewing of PoSH policies and labor law compliance.

Siri is a Gold Medallist and holds a BBA, LLB (Hons.) from Christ University and a Masters in Science (International Employment Relations) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she also served as the EDI Officer.

Abhishek Ghattamaneni

Head of Financial Strategies

Abhishek is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in finance and corporate governance. With over 15 years of expertise as a qualified Company Secretary, he has made significant contributions to the finance departments of companies within the real estate and startup sectors.
 
Having worked extensively with organisations operating across multiple countries, Abhishek brings a deep understanding of international taxation to the table. Notably, he achieved an impressive 42nd rank in 12th grade under the AP Education Board, demonstrating a strong academic foundation to complement his professional achievements.

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