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Industry Contributor 18 Feb 2022 - 3 min read

It’s only February but we already need to head off burnout – before it's too late

By Sharni Ames - Head of Solutions, Hatched

Covid has increased the hours worked and workloads. Without the relaxing summer we all expected, that’s a recipe for burnout – and many people are already heading hard down that path. Hatched's Sharni Ames says we need to tackle it head on, now, before it's too late.

 

The past two years have been a lot. And just when we thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, along came Omicron messing up our summer. Now, as the wave starts to subside and many teams are returning to the office, there’s a real sense that people are dead tired. It’s only February but already, the tank is running low.

For anyone that feels like that, and leaders in the industry, this is a warning sign that should not be ignored. Many people are on the fast track to burnout. And we need to talk about it now before it’s too late.

Burnout in this business is real. And it’s dangerous.

I should know. I’ve been there.

Five years ago, I was the media director at a large established agency. I loved it. There was a level of intensity and a commitment to excellence that I really enjoyed.

But this commitment was coming at the expense of everything else. At the time, I had two kids under the age of two which required a crazy level of juggling between me and my partner to make ends meet.

In 2016, I ended up with pneumonia.

But the real turning point came one morning when I spilt milk in the Tupperware drawer. It went over all of the plastics and I stood there crying thinking, “Is this legit where you've got yourself to? Is this what success looks like?” It looked successful. But it didn’t feel successful. It felt exhausting.

So I took a step back and began to reevaluate everything.

I went down a big rabbit hole asking, “If this isn't legit it, what is?”

I started with minimalism simplifying our home and possessions. Then, inspired by author Brooke McAlary, I embraced slow living.

I began to redefine my life and what professional success looked like within it. I joined Hatched and started to run sessions to help others do the same by outlining what is important to them, specifically their values.

We sold our house and gave up big city living to return to the Yarra Valley where my husband and I grew up. We bought a block of land and put a tiny home on it.

While this moment happened for me pre-Covid, the pandemic has pushed a lot of people to this same place. Not much of a surprise when you consider research has found working from home has people spending longer at their desks and facing bigger workloads than before.

I believe this is an inflection point for many. An opportunity to reevaluate what success looks like; what we’d like our lives and our careers to look like.

A great place to start is by working out what you stand for. What are your values?

When you come at life rooted in the foundation of what your values are, you’re able to be more intentional and make better choices. It makes some choices more difficult. But you know when you’re making decisions based on personal values, you’re making the right decisions. You’re living a life that you designed rather than life living you.

I genuinely believe this is the way to combat burnout and a number of other issues we are facing from talent retention to mental health.

If you’ve been in the industry as long as me, it might sound fluffy but think about this: we have a growing workforce of Millennials and Gen Zers who care deeply about this stuff. From what language is appropriate to use in the workplace to ensuring the work we do guarantees a sustainable future for the planet. Caring about our people and prioritising what matters to them is fast becoming a non-negotiable for businesses. 

It’s a far cry from when I started in the industry 20 years ago, when the norm was being bullied and trying to ignore misogynistic comments about your tits. But that’s kind of the point.

The world is evolving and so too must our industry – or we face an even greater talent drain when Covid burnout sets in.

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Sharni Ames

Head of Solutions, Hatched

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