Executives function in high-pressure jobs on a daily basis. They take on a perpetual string of risks and responsibilities as they make high-level decisions. And at the end of the day, the buck stops with them.
The World Health Organization has provided an official definition for the concept of professional burnout. It reads as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
In other words, burnout occurs when a professional fails to manage workplace stress over a prolonged period of time. Indeed.com refers to executive burnout (as in burnout on an executive level) as a “new pandemic.” The site adds that 37% of executives work longer hours than they did before the coronavirus pandemic. 75% of respondents also report physical and mental health concerns related to their jobs.
What Does It Look Like When an Executive Burns Out?
There are many different signs that an executive who is dealing with burnout can display, including:
- Decreased productivity
- Exhaustion and chronic fatigue
- Headaches, chest pains, and palpitations
- Lower professional efficacy (efficiency at one’s job)
- Mental exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and fogginess
- Feelings of resentment, dissatisfaction, and unappreciation
- Anxiety and depression
- A lack of motivation
These are just some of the symptoms. Each case is different, too. It’s important for coworkers to keep an eye out for patterns of unusual, negative behavior in a boss or fellow executive and to communicate concerns in a timely manner and through proper protocols.
What Can You Do To Prevent Executive Burnout?
Executive burnout can lead to a lot of unwanted side effects. Along with the obviously undesirable situation of an executive going through burnout on a personal level, insufficient or lackluster leadership can also trickle down to the rank and file. When a boss is struggling or isn’t fully present, it can also lead to lower productivity across a company.
In extreme cases, an executive may even leave a company. Poor retention can devastate a company’s financials, let alone emotional stability, engagement, and company culture.
If a company wants to support its executives, it must take steps to proactively avoid the situation from arising in the first place. This can happen through several initiatives. For instance, offer support through professional counseling. Make sure the members of your C-suite also have the time that they need to rest and recharge from the high levels of stress that they regularly face.
It’s also important to put some effort in right at the beginning of an executive’s tenure at a company. You want to hire candidates that you know can handle the stresses and strains of leadership over time. This is where working with professional executive recruiters like the team at Stanton Chase can help.
“You want to hire candidates that you know can handle the stresses and strains of leadership over time.”
Our executive search consultants have plenty of experience vetting candidates. We can help you find the best individuals not just to survive but to thrive in each position within your organization.
From hiring the best candidates to supporting your existing staff and looking for negative signs before they have time to fester, it’s important to prioritize executive burnout. If you can keep your C-suite members healthy and firing on all cylinders, your staff, your company, and your bottom line will benefit over time.
About the Author
Peter Deragon is a Managing Director at Stanton Chase Los Angeles. He is also the Global Practice Leader of our Supply Chain, Logistics, and Transportation Practice Group. Additionally, Peter is active in the CFO Practice Group and financial services, where he started his career.