March 9, 2022
Can the Workplace Cure Burnout?
One panelist, Upali Nanda, principal and director of research at HKS, said reports of burnout are not just anecdotal. “We know it is rampant. In our most recent survey, more employees have reported having at least one symptom of burnout compared to 2020.” Nanda continued: “Connecting to coworkers is correlated to an increase in happiness.” Since the shift to a virtual workplace has come so suddenly, our brains have not had a chance to adapt.
“The kind of work Upali is doing on employee satisfaction is the future of manufacturing,” said Jennifer Kolstad. As global design director for the Ford Motor Company, these questions are not merely philosophical, but impact the happiness and wellbeing of a workforce numbering around 200,00 worldwide, and many of them are on the front lines, building cars and trucks, as opposed to white-collar “knowledge workers.”
“We’re trying to get to the heart of ideas around absenteeism and retention,” she said, explaining that Ford has to make health and wellness amenities close and convenient for all employees. “We provide nourishment, hydration, sanitation. So bathrooms must be designed differently, prayer rooms, mothers’ rooms, all this together. It’s really a total reevaluation of how you plan for manufacturing.”
Sandra Bond Chapman, founder and chief director, Center for Brain Health, says the positive effects of this rethinking ripple outwards: “We see that when people improve their work conditions, when they see a higher purpose in their work, their family relationships actually get better. When you get a sense of purpose in one place, it spreads upward.”
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