Tackling burnout – especially for dads



Rob Bravo is Talking Talent’s Director of Wellbeing and through a coaching career spanning over 25 years, he has coached hundreds of mums and dads going through various work/life issues.

When Rob joined Talking Talent he saw a pattern was emerging: “We were finding more and more themes that were pointing to real issues of balance and wellbeing. There was a gut instinct that many people were approaching burnout and we wanted to really test that assumption.”

He wanted to look at how burnout was affecting different groups of people, using the knowledge around the Maslach Burnout inventory that lists Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalisation and Reduced Personal Accomplishment as the signs of real burnout.

Talking Talent has just published the results of a survey on burnout which provided some eye-opening results:

  • More than half (57%) of all professionals feel worn out by work;
  • This number rises to over two-thirds (67%) for working parents; and 72% of working dads;
  • And rises further to 70% of senior managers who feel the same way;
  • 58% of senior managers report that they often lose focus at work;
  • More than half (57%) of graduates feel worn out by work;
  • Two-thirds of graduates (66%) feel they give a lot but get little in return;
  • And three-quarters (75%) of professionals aged 25-34 already feel worn out by work.

Selling a marathon, but expecting a sprint

At the heart of these results lies a core mindset that Rob believes is increasing the speed with which people are arriving at burnout.
“Organisations tend to say they have a long-term view. They sell that as their vision and yet they expect people to perform for the short term,” he says.

For many parents, this sense of being ‘always on’ means work feels like a sprint every day. That intensity is happening across all parts of our day so it increasingly feels less like we’re living life, and more like we are ‘living work’. Is it thus a wonder then that more mental health issues are arising

Time to give parents, and dads in particular, a more genuine voice

While the results surprised even Rob, he says that they need to be the very start of the conversation, especially for dads.

“Many dads have never given themselves permission to even think about how they’re going to be as a working dad,” he says. Yet they want to be more hands on and that is creating ever more pressure in the workplace for dads. Rob says he knows of some dads who have even invented fictional meetings at 17:00 just so they could leave on time – without fear of being judged. In the age of the modern day dad<, this just cannot continue.

But who is responsible for tackling burnout?

It’s a tricky issue to assign to any one particular group at a company. “It isn’t just HR’s responsibility. It needs to be a larger part of leadership’s responsibility to put mental health awareness on the agenda throughout the organisation,” says Rob.

And what about those dads who are going through this right now? Well, here’s what Rob suggests:

It’s time for dads to be more courageous and to have those slightly more difficult conversations with their line managers.

Dads need to go into those conversations saying: ‘It’s important for me to be that part of myself. And this is what I need from you. I may need more flexibility, but I need it without fear that my performance will be judged.’

Line managers need to recognise that they need to give the same level of support to new fathers as they do to new mothers.

It’s all about being in tune with what’s important to us as people. Isn’t it about time we get to know the human being, not the human-doing?

*Han-Son Lee is founder of Daddilife, a blogging site for dads. He says so much has changed about fatherhood, which is why DaddiLife is there to help modern-day dads throughout their journey with tips, advice, community and much more. Picture credit: Wiki Commons.

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