Are you feeling overwhelmed with burnout and on the verge of quitting? Perhaps you’re an HR or workplace leader wondering what the first step to burnout recovery is for your teams?
It’s easy for many people to generalize what burnout is, as we feel completely overwhelmed and exhausted and make that desperate decision to check out and quit.
As a result, we unnecessarily leave the workplace not knowing it’s usually only a few energy drainers in work and life that if it was gone or effectively managed, would help regain balance, even in unhealthy workplace cultures.
With an energy audit, we’re looking to identify, target and eliminate the most energy draining and intensive habits first.
The goal is to provide relief in the mental and emotional tension that’s built up inside, so your People will feel safe and most importantly, out of the fight, flight or freeze mode.
What is an energy audit?
There’s a few areas we will focus on when it comes to where and how we use and get our energy:
Our focus will be the top 3 and I’ll tie it in the last area with our personal values as it relates to feeling empty, unfulfilled and the search for meaning we get from burnout.
We are creatures of habit; being the unconscious predictable patterns that we run everyday that forms the level of certainty we need in our lives.
Even if you enjoy and need novelty and change, that too is a predictable habit that is associated with an individual’s natural temperament.
This can include:
It mostly runs unconsciously out of habit and familiarity.
The goal of the exercise is to identify all the habits that happen in our daily lives from wake to sleep.
Degree of the quality of our energy
Our habits can either be energy-draining or enriching. As you audit each habit and behavior, subjectively ask if it’s draining, enriching or net zero. Use a subjective scale.
This can be from -5 (most draining) to + 5 (most enriching)
This will reflect when our habits occur: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
High frequency and a high degree of drain are easy habits to begin to address first.
As studies show, many people quit their managers not their jobs for a variety of reasons. Your goal is to determine if the habitually interactions with your managers, peers or people associated to any particular habitually even causes stress and tension in the relationships.
Begin to notice if there are any specific negative emotions attached to the events. If there is a specific emotion like anger, guilt, sadness, fear and anxiety that appears more frequently, then releasing and processing those emotions is an effective way to re-liberate mental and emotional resources.
Our environment can influence how we think, feel and behave. This is a great exercise to determine how to utilize our environments to promote energy enriching and performance states.
For example, the workplace commute might be a frequent and consistent energy draining event that we can be better optimized.
It’s good to identify if there are any specific environmental patterns that cause energy to be drained and patterns where we feel more productive.
Areas of Life
While it may not be realistic to expect work life balance in our modern complex way of living, we can identify if any particular area of life is the most draining.
Many times as we attempt to address workplace energy optimizations can realize that the biggest energy drainers occur outside the workplace such as in unhealthy relationships and dealing with the stressors of care giving.
Finding trends within areas of life can help focus the right resources and strategies to be more effective at focusing on how we can make sure no area of life is overly draining, as it can create imbalances and coping behaviors where we rely on other areas of life to compensate making it a risky point of failure.
The Four D’s to Energy Recovery
When it comes to taking action to recover energy, we can select one of the above options.
Deleting means just stopping doing that specific energy-draining habit, if possible. This is the exercise of the effective adage, less is more, and sometimes even means stop doing the energy draining or low performing activities that yield very little results or rewards.
Delegating has two options:
Delaying is giving the task more time, allowing is to mono-task and focus on getting the task done from beginning to end without juggling and multitasking.
Lastly, doing differently is shifting an energy draining habit or event into a energy-draining event without sacrificing the overall outcome.
This can be done by aligning personal values, skills and natural talents to introducing more effective strategies.
The energy audit is the first step to getting clear on what’s burning our energy out so we can apply the correct interventions for change.
This exercise alone can be one of the best preventative measures for burnout-related burnout as it brings clarity and reduces the anxiety that is often associated with disengagement and why we leave the workplace.
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