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Take a break: HBR special themed edition

By Linda

It’s a topic we’ve covered before in these blogs but one that continues to remain topical – it’s burnout. Stress can take a toll on your health and wellbeing and that of those around you.

Photo of a person at a work desk with head in hands surrounded by flying papers.

It’s a topic we’ve covered before in these blogs but one that continues to remain topical – it’s burnout.  Whether manager or staff, business owner or employee, if you are overworked, under supported, struggling to balance work and life obligations, then stress can take a toll on your health and wellbeing and that of those around you.

Earlier this year, the Harvard Business Review did a themed special issue on topics covering “employee exhaustion, professional burnout, and how to cope. The issue includes articles related to these topics taken from the Harvard Business Review archives”.

Printed copies of the HBR are available on the magazine stands in our libraries; however easiest access is via our online database Business Source Premier.

To access these articles, full text, you will need WCL library registration and to log in using your library registration number and password.

Below are some of the articles that may be of interest.

Photo of a set of matches with all burnt out but one.

The Hidden Toll of Microstress. 
Cross, Rob and Dillon, Karen. Harvard Business Review. Spring 2024 Special issue, p10-18. 9p. 
Microstressors are small pressures that seem like mere bumps in the road—a vague, worrying text from your teen while you’re in a meeting, the sight of a colleague who always wants to vent to you, or having to tell your team that the project they’ve been grinding long hours on has been scrapped. But these microstressors aren’t as harmless as they seem. Because they’re so small and brief, they don’t trigger the normal stress response in our brains to help us cope; instead, microstress embeds itself in our minds and accrues over time. The long-term impact of this buildup is debilitating: It saps our energy, damages our physical and emotional health, and contributes to a decline in our overall well-being. Through hundreds of interviews with high performers from 30 global companies, authors Rob Cross and Karen Dillon have uncovered the science behind microstress, where it comes from, and how our bodies respond to it. They share the most common sources of microstress so that you can learn to recognize how they arise in your life, and include a downloadable diagnostic to help you identify which of the 14 sources of microstress have the greatest impact on you. Finally, they offer strategies to push back on microstress. These include everything from learning how to say no to small asks, to being aware of the microstress we could cause others, to keeping perspective so you can rise above. Most important, Cross and Dillon’s research suggests that people with more diverse connections with others have rich, multi dimensional lives that inoculate them to microstress’s effects. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Four Ways to Manage Your Energy More Effectively.
Saunders, Elizabeth Grace.  Harvard Business Review. Spring2024 Special issue, p41-42. 2p. 
The article presents the author’s recommendations on managing one’s energy for the purpose of sustained performance, personal health, and happiness, both inside and outside of work. Time management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders suggests several steps to achieve this, including: setting minimum and maximum daily goals, understanding one’s own tendencies in personal drive, making time to rest and recover, and maintaining a sustainable pace. The author offers various examples from their personal experience.

Leading an Exhausted Workforce.
Abrahams, Robin and Groysberg, Boris. Harvard Business Review. Spring2024 Special issue, p108-110. 
This article presents advice to company leaders to help their employees deal with emotional exhaustion and burnout. The article discusses four angles, including creating a cognitive safety net for employees and being a role model in self-care, with tips for each angle. Topics include mental flexibility, stress reduction, and learning from failures.

Communicating Effectively When You’re Running on Empty.
Bernstein, Amy; Gallo, Amy. Harvard Business Review. Spring2024 Special issue, p26-30.   Communicating clearly and persuasively sets you up to have impact and influence. But what if you’re running on empty? Expressing your ideas and giving direction when you’re sleep-deprived, burned out, grieving, or in perimenopausal brain fog can feel nearly impossible. So, what then? Leadership development coach Muriel Wilkins provides communication techniques that meet you where you’re at mentally and emotionally so that you can rise to the moment, even when you’re worried you can’t.  [Adapted ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]  

Five Ways to Focus Your Energy During a Work Crunch.
Su, Amy Jen. Harvard Business Review. Spring2024 Special issue, p47-48.  
This article describes the importance of being able to focus energy during work crunches, where unexpected setbacks or increased workload occur. According to the article, accepting the situation is the first step in order to avoid resistance which can drain energy. Observing and labeling underlying emotions, such as pressure or guilt, can help to reduce anxiety and activate executive functioning skills. Preserving a sense of choice and agency is essential, prompting a focus on priorities, trade-offs, and self-care. Effective communication with colleagues and loved ones, including renegotiating deadlines and setting boundaries, is also important. According to Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope, and Friendship practicing self-compassion is pivotal when dealing with stress related to a work crunch. It involves acknowledging and accepting the situation, observing emotions, maintaining a sense of choice, communicating openly, and asking for help when needed, ultimately facilitating a smoother navigation through work crunches.  

Photo of a person studying with head in hands.

How to Refuel When You’re Feeling Emotionally Drained.
Valcour, Monique. Harvard Business ReviewSpring2024 Special issue, p51-53.
This article discusses emotional exhaustion and how to recover from it. Topics include evaluating and then reducing exposure to emotional depleting circumstances, utilization of emotional regulation techniques, and boosting emotional reserves with proactive behavior, time away from work, and mindfulness practices.  

Help Your Overwhelmed, Stressed-Out Team.

Mosow, Julie. Harvard Business ReviewSpring2024 Special issue, p66-68. 
This article details ways to enable employees to accomplish their work and minimize distractions. Topics include removing work interruptions, fine-tuning individual employees’ workload, and incorporating these fixes into everyone’s workday from the top down. Two case studies are included emphasizing the lead by example angle and project prioritization.  

Within the Wellington City Libraries collection there is further material by some of the authors listed here.  You may be interested in the below booklist.