Episode 122.5 – Green Apple Slice


1 in 5 Highly Engaged Employees Is at Risk of Burnout


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Harvard Business Review article, “1 in 5 Highly Engaged Employees Is at Risk of Burnout” by Emma Seppala and Julia Moeller


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    Good morning. Happy Monday. It’s John Garrett coming to you with another episode of Green Apple Slices. I’m on my way to the airport to fly to Los Angeles for a Sage Session. I’m going to be speaking there. And speaking of Sage, the Accountants Group Leader for Canada, Rachel Fisch.

    Rachel: Hey, John. How are you doing this morning?

    John: Every time I call you, I’m amazed that you pick up. I’m like, “Wow. She’s going to do it again. This is amazing.”

    Rachel: And this week, I’m home. I’m actually home, yeah, for the next couple of weeks, which is good, before I head out to Vancouver again the end of February. And then March is going to be a little busy. So I’m really excited about what we got going on in March. Yeah.

    John: Nice, very cool. Yeah, yeah. But every Monday, we talk through an article on employee engagement, corporate culture, things like that. I found a really cool article from the Harvard Business Review and it’s by Emma Seppala and Julia Moeller and it’s 1 in 5 Highly Engaged Employees Is at Risk of Burnout.

    Rachel: Yeah, that’s pretty high. That’s 20%. And so it starts talking about with anything there’s a bit of a pendulum, right, where there’s like the perfect sweet spot or as they call here kind of the optimized engagement. But I think in their studies, it was showing that only two of five — like for those who feel engaged, only two of them actually kind are falling in that optimized engaged, right, where they feel engaged, but not stressed. They have demands but have the resources to meet them. And its kind of the balance between all of these things that I thought was kind of fascinating in this article.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean the thing that’s really scary is, yeah, one in five, like you said, are highly stressed and highly engaged. So it’s like too much engagement now, which is crazy. Because we’ve always talked about in all the studies have always shown seven out of ten employees are unengaged and all this stuff. And so now all of a sudden, it’s like, wait a minute, for some of these people it’s too much.

    Rachel: Right. So then if we’re talking about the three out of ten that actually are engaged, that can’t be the end of the conversation. There’s still more to it if you’re kind of tipping them over, as I said, that scale or that pendulum. And it’s funny because I had a job long time ago.

    John: It was a lemonade’s day when I was a little girl.

    Rachel: Yeah. And she kept giving me these tasks that really weren’t my job, but she had permission from my manager and I certainly had the time. And so we were talking about it one time and she said, “You know, if I ever need to get anything done, I’d give it to the busiest person, not the person who is kind of slogging through their work and everything’s taking a while. If you want it done quickly, give it to somebody who’s already on that pace to get work done quickly.”

    But now reading this, I’m like, “That would be a great way to kind of push that person over the edge a little bit.” Sure, they’re busy. And it talks about that resource versus demand, right. So yes, it’s good to have demands on you, to have goals that you can be working towards. That’s great. Do you have the resource to back them up?

    So then it talks about not only the balance between stress and engagement, but also that balance between demand and resources. Do your demands exceed the resources that you’re able to get those demands accomplished and then vice versa? Way too many resources and then not a lot of demand so then they’re all kind of being put to waste a little bit.

    John: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. And it also talked about how — so many people use the word “flourish” when it comes to engagement. And you’re not able to do that when you’re just so stressed out. And I also thought it was cool how they brought up, something to think about, is the greater the stress levels, the greater work load then the more support people are going to need. The more acknowledgement people are going to need along the way. And also opportunities for recovery when that work is done to let people rebuild. You can’t just keep piling on one after the other.

    Rachel: Right. Yeah. Like going from one huge project to another huge project to another huge project without kind of some recovery time in between.

    John: Right, absolutely. I mean and it’s something that I don’t think a lot of people think about is when we’re done with that one, let’s just keep going on. And it’s like, well, sometimes people need a little bit of time to just regroup and settle in. And because that stress level just builds and then you build on top of that or you build on top of that. And before you know it, then yeah, people are completely burnout and they either quit or they’re calling in sick or whatever. Then it’s no good for anybody.

    Rachel: Yeah. And I think we even had an article a little while ago. I mean we’ve talked about — we’ve had a couple hundred I think by now or at least over a hundred where it talks about possibly being at risk of losing your highest engaged or highest performing people and it’s for exactly that reason. So having engaged staff doesn’t mean you’ve hit the summit. There are still things to watch out for. So I think it’s a good discussion there.

    John: Yeah, yeah. And they call it smart engagement which is the kind of engagement that leads to the enthusiasm and productivity and all that, but without the burnout.

    Rachel: Without the burnout, exactly.

    John: And so it goes on to managers to stay in touch with their people and make sure that the workload is appropriate.

    Rachel: For sure.

    John: So that’s it. There we go. Happy Monday. This is it. I got to go catch a flight or we can talk for hours. That’s all everyone needs. All right, everyone, check out greenapplepodcast.com for all the links and all that stuff. Great. So thanks so much, Rachel. Have a good rest of the week.

    Rachel: You too, John. Have fun in L.A.

    John: Got to go. See you. Bye.

    Rachel: Bye.

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