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Presenteeism and Burnout

Are you unwell and going to work? You may be suffering from presenteeism.

‘I don’t have needs’ syndrome

Now, we all know what absenteeism is, but what we may have not realised is that it’s a thing of the past. A strange phenomena appears with those who are at risk, or suffer from burnout, it is called ‘presenteeism’. No matter how unwell you feel, or what you are going through in your personal life, you will show up at work. The mission is to be there, and make sure that no one will ever suspect that you have personal needs beyond ‘serving those in need’. From what I witness, I’m sad to say that women are better at this game than men.

Perfectionism and sacrifice 

Perfectionism, a deeply rooted sense of guilt, and an organisational culture that feeds the ‘sacrifice mentality’ will take care of the fact that even when physically and mentally exhausted you will make your way to the office, in the attempt to avoid the the shame that others may think you are not ‘up for the job’.

Commitment is healthy, presenteeism is not

Too many organisations in the non-profit sector have perfected the art of guilt-tripping staff and volunteers who show signs of healthy boundaries between work and the rest of their life. In some work environments such bullying is so pervasive that people are afraid to show their human needs. I do wonder why so many still allow agencies to crack them and spit them out. I suspect guilt, shame, and a need to prove one’s worth have quite a bit to do with it. Some may try to persuade you that it is all about commitment. I disagree. Commitment is healthy, presenteeism is not.

Good intentions are not enough

‘Pause for a moment, you wretched weakling, and take stock of your miserable existence’ – St. Benedict

Though I’m not a fan of the idea of work-life balance, I’ve come across Nigel Marsh’s TED talk, which offers some good insights, and food for thought on how work is eating up our life. An example? The speaker has a go at corporate business and says:

‘It’s particularly important that you never put the quality of your life in the hands of a commercial corporation […] Because commercial companies are inherently designed to get as much out of you [as] they can get away with. It’s in their nature; it’s in their DNA; it’s what they do –even the good, well-intentioned companies.’

Right. You may disagree, but for me the same goes for non-profit organisations. Simply because they are ‘doing good’, it doesn’t mean that ‘anything goes’.

Time to get a life!

No matter how ‘meaningful’ our job is, I yet have to meet someone coming to the end of their career who tells me: ‘I wish I had spent more time in the office!’

Spring is upon us and it’s the perfect time to get a life! Do you really need to pay a coach to tell you to work less and go and breathe some fresh air?

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Mindfulnext by Alessandra Pigni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.