We’ve all experienced burnout in our professional lives. And as much as we think of it as an individual issue, research is now indicating it could be an organizational problem. When employees feel a lack of autonomy, experience unfair work opportunities, or realize their values are not aligned with the company, they may start to feel frustrated. This is less an individual issue and more a company culture of burnout.
If you’ve experienced burnout culture, and according to Gallup, more than three-quarters of us have, you may be wondering how you can identify this type of company culture before accepting a job offer. According to a Harvard Business Review article, one of the first steps to understanding a company’s culture is thoroughly reading the job posting you’re considering and doing a bit of online research.
Look at the language used in the job description. Is it inclusive? Does it indicate flexibility? Do the benefits go beyond the standard fare? You can also read reviews online, check the best place to work lists, and look at their corporate social responsibility actions.
It’s fair to wonder if these public-facing materials are just branding initiatives designed to make the company look good. To find out for sure, be prepared to ask questions during the interview process to help you determine if the materials indicate the company’s culture. The article identifies six causes of burnout and provides guidance to help employees.
Lack of Autonomy
Ensuring a manager is open and doesn’t micromanage is essential to a good culture. Questions that can help you determine if you will have autonomy include:
- Do I have flexibility over when I do my work during the day?
- How do you assess my work hours?
- How do you assign workload and deadlines?
Lack of Fairness
There are times when employees don’t feel their work is valued or that they are treated unfairly. This is a demoralizing feeling. The following questions can help you determine how they assess employees.
- What sort of employee metrics do you collect?
- How are promotions decided?
- Do you have a process for pay equity reviews?
- Do you have a diversity officer? How many people are on the DEI team?
- How do you report on diversity goals?
Work-life balance has been discussed for decades. Yet many companies still expect employees to be available 24/7 or have a mentality of doing more with less. To avoid these types of organizations, use the following questions.
- What are standard work hours?
- How often do people have to work on weekends?
- How much time will this role spend in meetings?
- What’s the expected turnaround time on emails?
- Do you have agreed-upon collaborative hours?
- Can I turn off notifications for focused time?
- How do you prioritize tasks and mitigate overload?
- Are team-building events during the workday or outside of work hours?
Lack of Reward
Understanding how the company supports employees throughout their careers is essential. How do they incentivize employees and encourage growth? These questions can help you appreciate their commitment to their employees.
- What are the criteria and process for promotion?
- How often are people promoted in this unit?
- Do you have a professional development budget?
- Do you offer leadership training or executive coaching?
- How are mentors and sponsors assigned?
Lack of Community Support
If one of your concerns is the ability to be yourself and contribute to the best of your abilities without fearing the repercussions of making a mistake, you’ll want to ask the following questions to ensure you’re not being judged for missteps.
- How do you give feedback to employees?
- Can you describe how you handle mistakes on your team?
- How do you ensure everyone contributes their ideas?
- How do you manage conflict?
- How often do you have personal check-ins with team members?
- How would you assess team morale?
Feeling like work is meaningful is critical to employee satisfaction. If your values are not aligned with the company’s values, you may struggle to stay motivated. These questions can help you determine if your values are aligned with the company.
- Can you describe how the company values guide decision-making?
- How does the team’s work impact the company’s goals?
- What objectives and key results will I be measured against?
- Does the company encourage community service during work hours?
- How does the company give back to local communities?
Company culture is a significant driver of burnout for employees. If you’re an employer, make a thoughtful, encompassing effort to develop a culture that embraces employee needs. And if you’re an employee, make the time for yourself to fully understand your values, expectations, and boundaries for your professional life. Doing so will improve your satisfaction and prevent burnout.
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