Feeling the Burnout

Jen Rittenhouse

Exhausted. Cynical. Detached. Seeing the signs of burnout on-screen during a webinar about employee burnout hit me like a punch in the face, only the kind of punch in the face that feels like you are looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing your reflection staring back at you.

So maybe not exactly like a punch in the face. But the feeling was visceral and the symptoms were me. 

But first, the backstory: 

I joined SiteCrafting in the first week of March 2020. I was fresh-faced and full of ideas. Behold a reference of the transformation that I have experienced over the last 19 months:

Feeling the Burnout 3
Feeling the Burnout 1

I believe this is what is considered seasoned in the professional world. 

While seasoned as I may be by the pandemic, I’m not an expert in burnout apart from my own experiences. As a result, I’ve engaged with as much content as I can about employee burnout, emotional exhaustion and culture as the pandemic persists. 

I recently attended a webinar hosted by our employee engagement platform TINYpulse in search of answers for myself and to learn how as a company we can support our team. I’ll lead with the takeaway: There are no easy answers. COVID-19 continues to be the backdrop of our daily lives and we remain in a constant state of change. We’ve had moments where we made the most of our time in quarantine with sourdough starters and new hobbies. We’ve had moments that have felt hopeless and we’ve had signs of a return to some sort of normalcy. 

Then there are those moments that feel like this will never end.

At the start of June, the vaccination rates paired with improved weather offered glimmers of hope that we may finally be on the other side of this thing. Then came the Delta variant and the endurance to maintain felt impossible. A photo essay in The New York Times summarized that collective place we are in with heartbreaking insight: 

“Fall is finally arriving. It’s just that instead of reassuring predictability, we are returning to a season of disquiet and uncertainty with little choice but to muddle through.”

The feelings we feel as we muddle through another season of uncertainty can’t be sourdough started or hobbied away. They can, however, be named and hopefully in that acknowledgment comes solidarity. 

The pendulum swings from flourishing to burned out and as a company, SiteCrafting is committed to meeting our employees where they are on any given day and at any given moment. Flexibility has always been the foundation of our work culture and we realize that employees have families and lives outside of work that they need to have time and energy for. Our office is open and we are embracing a hybrid work model that works best for individuals and teams. 

To find ways to support our teams we are reimagining our workspace to accommodate a range of preferences and work styles. We are also strategizing ways to measure employee engagement and emotional wellbeing so that we can recalibrate as needed.

We don’t have all the answers but we are trying and in doing so we hope to create a workplace that can evolve with our team’s needs and the shifting cultural norms around work. We can’t prevent the Covid doldrums but we can create a place for our employees — in real life and online — that is safe for the range of emotions that come with existing through a pandemic.

This is the part of the blog post that typically offers a takeaway to which I have none. I’m just a brand marketer/minivan driver/soccer mom/runner/aspiring roller skate dancer trying to navigate my own feelings and the health and wellness of my family to the best of my abilities. Thankfully experts such as organizational psychologist Adam Grant have insight and recommendations to help navigate the challenges of life set to the backdrop of a pandemic.