DevOps Institute

[EP76] Battling Burnout with Colleen Verriest, LCSW


On this episode of the Humans of DevOps, Jason Baum is joined by Colleen Verriest, LCSW owner of Whole Heart Healing, LLC. They discuss:

  • What is burnout
  • What are the signs of burnout
  • Causes of burnout
  • How can business leaders combat employee burnout
  • How to combat burnout

A study by Haystack Analytics found that 81% of developers reported experiencing burnout due to the pandemic. The study found that the top reasons for burnout included higher workload, inefficient processes, and unclear goals and targets.

Read: Employee Burnout: What Organizations and Leaders Should Know

Colleen Verriest is the Founder of Whole Heart Healing and has been nurturing change in individuals and organizations for nearly 20 years as a licensed clinical social worker and nonprofit leader.

Colleen assumed several progressive leadership positions in the nonprofit sector, starting as a clinical director, moving on to a vice president role, and finally to CEO.

Colleen’s leadership is grounded in the question, “what is possible?”. Her focus has always been supporting the growth of agencies and programs, but most importantly the growth of people – those on her teams and those served. She has found that leading with compassion, flexibility and fairness has brought success throughout her career. What matters most to Colleen is leading with the heart, leading with intention, and a good dose of vulnerability.

Colleen is filled up by just “being” with her family. She loves attending sporting events and traveling with her fiancé and son, taking a run, and connecting with her ever-loving circle of friends and family.

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Please find a lightly edited transcript below:

Narrator 00:03
You’re listening to the humans of DevOps podcast, a podcast focused on advancing the humans of DevOps through skills, knowledge, ideas and learning, or the SKIL framework.

Colleen Verriest 00:16
Especially if now there’s extra work at a certain point in time, and we all live in workplaces where certain months are really crazy, or certain weeks are really crazy. And if we just take it all on, and we don’t compartmentalize and put certain things aside, then we’re sort of ramping up to beyond, you know, towards that burnout place.

Jason Baum 00:38
Hey, everyone, its Jason Baum, Director of Member experience at DevOps Institute. And this is the Humans of DevOps podcast. Welcome back. It’s been a couple of weeks. I hope you enjoyed our rerun episodes that we had planned for you. You might remember from the last Live episode that we did, I was taking a vacation. And I’m back now, obviously. But let me tell you just how wonderful it was to finally take an actual vacation. It’s the first one for my family since COVID. It was also the first one for me in nearly two years where I actually disconnected for a week. And by that I mean, no phone, no checking work, email, no work calls, no slack, nothing. I know shocking. It’s it’s hard to imagine these days. I found it to be incredibly rewarding, refreshing, and it allowed me to come back ready to take on whatever hurdles were coming my way. And as always seems to be the reality after vacation, those hurdles pretty much began immediately. I’m sharing all of this because today’s episode is all about burnout. I don’t think I need to go too in-depth. To set this up for you. We’ve most likely all experienced burnout at some point in our careers or lives for that matter. In fact, a study by haystack analytics found that 81% of developers reported experiencing burnout due to the pandemic. When I looked into this deeper, I found out that the phrase to burnout was actually used by Shakespeare in the 1600s. In 2019, the World Health Organization define burnout as a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. So according to that definition, individuals suffering from burnout are said to experience feelings of exhaustion, increased mental distanced motivation, and cynicism in relation to one job. It also is important to know that burnout as defined by the WHO is caused solely by stressors at the workplace. In 1981, Lance Morell wrote an essay in time that was entitled the burnout of almost everyone. And that talks about burnout as the disease of the thwarted a frustration so profound, that it exhausts body and morale. Burnout in advanced states imposes fatigue that seems at the time, a close relative of death. So and that here with those powerful words, and introduce my guest for today, Colleen veriest. Colleen is the founder of Whole Heart healing and has been nurturing change in individuals and organizations for nearly 20 years. As a licensed clinical social worker, and nonprofit leader. Coleen assumed several progressive leadership positions in the nonprofit sector in the nonprofit sector, starting as a clinical director and moving on to Vice President and then finally to CEO, Collins leadership is grounded in the question, what is possible. Her focus has always been supporting the growth of agencies and programs, but most importantly, the growth of people, those on her team and those served. She has found that leading with compassion, flexibility and fairness has brought success throughout her career. What matters most to Colleen is leading with the heart leading with intention and a good dose of vulnerability. Colleen is filled up by just being with her family. She loves attending sporting events, and traveling with her fiance and son, taking a run and connecting with her ever-loving circle of friends and family. Colleen, welcome to the humans of DevOps.

Colleen Verriest 04:35
Thank you, Jason. Thank you for having me. Absolutely. You’ve already defined burnout Well, I’ve got nothing left to do.

Jason Baum 04:42
I did my research but I’m not a professional by any stretch of the imagination. Although at times on this podcast, it certainly feels that way. I do not pretend to be a professional. So I’m really excited to get into this. I’ve been waiting to do this episode. load, mainly because who hasn’t had burnout? I mean, it’s law, much like when we did our imposter syndrome episode. I don’t think that anybody, like the stat was 87%. And as I said, with impostor syndrome, when it was something like 80% of people have experienced, I think that that means 10 or 20% of people are lying.

Colleen Verriest 05:26
Or you didn’t talk to the right people,

Jason Baum 05:27
or you didn’t ask everyone. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So Coleen, are you ready to get human?

Colleen Verriest 05:34
Yeah, absolutely. It’s my favorite thing to do.

Jason Baum 05:38
Yeah, as as a, as a licensed clinical social worker, I’m pretty much sure that all you do is, is get human.

Colleen Verriest 05:46
Yeah, one of the things I said actually, during the pandemic, to my team, in terms of the human services field is like, the reason most of us went into it is because we like humans. So when we couldn’t be together, for those of us who really thrived in that kind of environment. That was really challenging. Yeah. So I like humans. I like connecting. And I’m happy to get human with you.

Jason Baum 06:09
Awesome. I’m excited to do it. Yes, me too. And it is challenging, right? So I defined burnout from a few different people’s perspectives. And I think that’s the thing you could Google burnout, and you’ll get a million different answers to it. So what’s your definition of burnout,

Colleen Verriest 06:32
my sense of burnout, and I think you touched on core pieces to it. But from like, a nuanced perspective, I think for and again, you’re right, I think most of us wholeheartedly have felt this a different point in our career, and even in our lives, you know, work is one place, but life is another, like life holistically. So, and certainly, our personal lives can exacerbate the burnout, we feel we could talk a little bit more about that as well, in our time together today, but a big piece that I find is dread. You know, like having this sense of dread. When it comes to work, that Sunday evening bellyache, we get, you know, the that those butterflies, the heart palpitations, the dread, of going back to work. And that can be for a variety of reasons, but one reason could be burnout. You know, I think also just a sense of anxiety, worry, you know, can be a sign that something’s amiss. A lack of excitement, or enthusiasm, feeling detached, you know, like, starting to feel like it feel as though I just don’t care what’s going on anymore, you know, I’m doing the best I can. But this is all I got. Overall, not being able to concentrate in the workplace, feeling an effective, that’s a big piece of it as if, you know, what I’m doing is just not, I’m just not performing at the level that I’m accustomed to, and what I, how I would like to be performing, and not always feeling as though we know the answers as to why, you know, not being able to dig into that, and just a lack of satisfaction overall. You know, those are some pieces that to me, but I would say that feeling of dread is a big piece that I’ve heard from colleagues, you know, I’ve experienced myself. And it’s really, the critical piece is paying attention to that, like listening to that inner voice. You know,

Jason Baum 08:55
it’s interesting, and we did say, you know, in the reason why I had that, that quote, from time from Lance Morrow, because I thought he said such he made it the imagery that comes to your mind from his words. But he also went beyond just the workplace. He actually called out. Now this was also written in 1981. So he mentioned like, mothers and moms at home, I would say right now, any parent, especially in pandemic, there are elements of it, and I would just that just serve just normal life, right? That’s just dealing with life, in general, can cause burnout. But the way you just put it with that pit in your stomach on a site who has an eye, I mean, that is such a calm, and not just for work. I think that goes all the way I mean that can go all the way back to school and I I know I felt it.

Colleen Verriest 10:01
Yeah. Like I remember in college or grad school, or that break would end and oh my gosh, you know, yeah.

Jason Baum 10:09
Right. Yes. Even though you have elements of fun and things that you’d like to do, there’s still that pit in your stomach. Right that there’s that. Ever, Hank, whatever it is that stressor that you’re going to have to face.

Colleen Verriest 10:23
And I think exhaustion, you know, that you mentioned that just exhaustion. Over, you know, your day could be a typical day, maybe nothing extra is involved with feeling white. You know, I think that’s also something to pay attention to. And just an overall sense of negativity. I mean, we will all experience team members, colleagues who kind of think more negatively than others. But when someone who typically isn’t oriented in that way, begins to comment in a more negative fashion have more sort of negative things to say about the work that’s actually happening or the workplace or their colleagues, then that’s also a sign, you know, so I think it can be a number of things, but I, you know, you’re 100% correct in, in alluding to life outside of work, and yeah, now it’s just our teams, our organizations, corporate structures, you know, they have parents who also have kids, and at any given point, there’s a COVID outbreak in the daycare closes.

Jason Baum 11:33
Yeah, been there, okay. And I

Colleen Verriest 11:35
just had a, a team member that used to work with me telling me that, yeah, all of a sudden, someone, a baby in the room got COVID, or they didn’t have enough staff at the daycare, they shut it down, they shut that baby room down. So what are parents supposed to do? So just that compounded stress is really, you know, that’s powerful, really powerful.

Jason Baum 11:57
If your listener, you know, I have shared it many times, I constantly share about being a parent. I have a four year old daughter, she’s lovely. She is in preschool. And I can tell you just in the pandemic a lot we had her out of school, and then we put her back in, you know, for it just got to a point, right, where what’s what’s worse, being at home or going to, and, and just since being back, I mean, they’ve closed I don’t know how many times too many to count. She has joined me on conference calls. I mean, it’s there’s only so much bluey they can watch.

Colleen Verriest 12:35
So true. I would like to be watching blue instead of working. You know, it’s true. It’s true. Yeah, you’re one, you know, you’re not alone. That’s the truth. I mean, I’ve been, I mean, I was held holding board meetings. And my son would come in and say goodnight in his pajamas. You know, so everybody got to know each other’s families in new and exciting ways, that’s for sure.

Jason Baum 13:01
Yeah, in some ways, I think it sort of made it less. It wasn’t, there was like, no shame to it or anything. It wasn’t, yeah, not a taboo, like it would have been maybe early. But yeah, it is, we’re all on the same boat here. So it almost lessened it. So I don’t know if it necessarily cause burnout, but the fact that you are on as a parent, and as whatever you are in your career, whether you’re a developer or coder, whatever it is, oh, my gosh, you have all this going on.

Colleen Verriest 13:31
And you’re not turning it off, and you make that whole work from home. And I think most people I speak to feel the same as that. Work was home, there was no separation. So you know, that same table you were eating at, is now your desk. You know, if you didn’t have the workspace that, you know, that’s the luxury to have workspace in your house, you know, so that really, I know, for myself, I had to be really careful about that. Because I could you know, and you have these phones that have your email on it, and you know, those, they’re always there. You know, at one point when my son said, I want to throw that phone out the window. I want to break your phone. I was like, Okay, that’s a sign. Yeah, that’s enough. That’s enough. So there are things that we can do. Personally, you know, to combat I would say burnout that’s coming from our personal and, and work lives, you know, and I also believe that management and leadership have a role to play in all this as well. I think personally, some of us have characteristics that lead us more or less towards burnout, right. So if we are of the personality type that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves. Okay, we’re not good delegators that can, can contribute to burnout. Especially if now there’s extra work coming in at a certain point in time, and we all live in workplaces where certain months are really crazy, or certain weeks are really crazy. And if we just take it all on, and we don’t compartmentalize and put certain things aside, then we’re sort of ramping up to beyond, you know, towards that burnout place. If we, if we are the type of personality where we really need a tremendous amount of reassurance, or, you know, a pause now, not to say, that’s not positive and workplace to be giving sort of kudos out. But there are some times where the leadership is, is also swamped, and they just may not be thinking in that way at a certain time. So if we have staff, and team members who really need that constantly, and you’re not getting it constantly, you can start to feel as though you’re not getting recognized. Why am I doing this? Why do I bother, you know, and having more of a controlling a need to control in environments where things can kind of be unpredictable? Right? Those are things that also can contribute, I would say, the critical piece around our personality traits, and burnout is knowing who we are. Who am I being honest with ourselves? Okay, am I more or less like this? You know, and there’s no shame in that. It’s just knowing ourselves. And knowing that, what do we need to do to mitigate that part? In the workplace, like who we are in the workplace? And I, I would say in that, in that DevOps world from, like, in preparing for today and looking at that, you know, the burnout in this area 81%, you know, that was specifically DevOps. Right, what you were thinking?

Jason Baum 17:19
Yeah, I think it was sad developers. Yeah. Developers that work. Okay.

Colleen Verriest 17:23
So when you think about the pandemic, and then just having to take it and development and support to it to the scale that no one was anticipating prepare for, I mean, the whole world was working remotely. Right. So and not having the resources or the planning to prepare for that. I can’t imagine what that felt like for developers, you know,

Jason Baum 17:49
and it’s already an industry that I think is synonymous with burnout, because coders all you ever think about I think about the movie, The Social Network, and you look at they had like the like a glimpse of what it was in the early Facebook, and you’re thinking about the Silicon Valley startups. And you think about all these software companies, and they’re so cool, because they’ve got the ping pong tables, and this and that, but really, what they’re doing is creating an environment where it’s normal to be at work all the time. Yes. Right. And I don’t know if that’s very healthy.

Colleen Verriest 18:33
I would venture to say, it isn’t you, because there is no downtime, going back to what I was just saying, like, in terms of that downtime is almost a trick. You know, it’s like, it’s tricking you to think that it’s fun to be you know, those are like, and that became like a movement. Now, I don’t think organization should shy away from bringing in supportive things like, you know, downtime into the workplace, self-care days, you know, things that are nurturing. But the same thing happens on Wall Street and some of the like, I know, you know, hedge funds, and some of these offices where people are at the office when, you know, the markets open in Asia. And they’re there till whatever time of night and they’re having food brought in and they’re dry cleaning and massage all this stuff so that people are there and they’re there and they’re there and they’re working. You know, they’re at some point that takes a toll on most people. Now, some people really thrive and this doesn’t become an issue and that’s all they that they can manage and that feels good. But most people at some point in time, max out and burn out in those kinds of environments. You know, in terms of the internal peace, being something we have to pay attention to, and that knowing ourselves there’s also the external piece, you know, what kind of environment? Are we in? What is this office setting? What is this business setting organizational setting? Is it a toxic work environment? You know, am I in a place where I’m being supported? Or I can be heard?

Jason Baum 20:18
Or, you know, if you’re in a toxic workplace?

Colleen Verriest 20:23
Well, that’s a good question. And I think that depends on the person. Now, if it’s a person who can really put on blinders, and doesn’t pay attention to what’s happening, kind of goes and does their job leaves and goes home, some people can do that. And we’ve all known colleagues who are like, Yeah, I’m just here to do my job, and I’m going home, and none of this affects me, you know, then if you’re more of a, you know, a tuned in a different way. I mean, I think it really, it’s personal, because what’s toxic to one person may not feel toxic to another. And, you know, for most employees, you know, having I mean, being micromanaged can feel toxic to some people, not having a sense of professional sort of latitude where they can make some decisions and feeling a sense of being affected. Right. So that goes back to micromanaging. bullying in the workplace is certainly something that is part of or can be part of a toxic work environment. I think something that contributes to toxic work environments can be folks when there’s change leadership that don’t, don’t open themselves up to new things and kind of hold on to the old things, and then spew a lot of negativity against change, you know, in the, in the, how many times have we heard well, we never did that. We never did that before. That’s not how we used to do things, you know, well, you know, and that we’re not doing that anymore, here’s what we’re doing. And sometimes that train of progress needs to move, and you either have to get on or not. So when you have folks who kind of hold on to old ways of doing things and resent change that can create a toxic work environment. A lack of respect, you know, the inability to have honest communication for some, you know, that can feel like a toxic work environment. I think employees are coming to the table with higher expectations, and rightfully so about what work should feel like, you know, and what, what can be possible in the workplace. And, and I think that organizations have, it’s will be important for them to heed that call, because retention will get better turnover will, you know, you’ll see less turnover, less burnout, really. And if people feel heard, and if people feel supported, particularly when they’re starting to feel overwhelmed. And if they’re brave enough to speak up and feel like they have the safe space to do that. And then they get the support they need, then wow, that’s a win, because you have an employee who you feel is doing a great job, but he’s struggling right now because they’re human. Leadership responds, does what they can to support them, hopefully, that works out and they feel heard and seen. And then they’re going to show up in a new, even more, committed way. I’ve found that to be true. You know, when people feel supported, and they’re at their lowest or they need to they need that help. You know, it’s a win.

Jason Baum 23:51
Yeah, that’s a cultural thing, right? I mean, that’s culture is the culture. You know, something that you touched on earlier in the podcast. And you kind of just said it with retention, obviously makes me think of the great resignation that’s going on right now. We’d be remiss not to talk about it, because there is a movement right with people go, although I’ve said it on this podcast, I’m not sure if people are leaving their bad job going to another bad job. And then someone else is taking their bad job like is that what’s happening but because where are all these jobs coming from? But one of the things that I’ve read about it is interesting. There’s, there’s that piece of the great resignation, where people are actually leaving, right? It’s gotten to the point where whatever their workload, the culture, the toxic work, whatever the reason because it’s often not about the money anymore. It’s very much about the environment where you’re talking about. But there’s another piece of the great resignation where people are resigning without quitting. They’re kind of just not doing their work. They’re just gliding they’re just I sort of just existing without actually doing anything and kind of giving up. And that sounds like someone who’s went through some type of burnout to me.

Colleen Verriest 25:12
Okay, so you’re saying resigning without quitting? So another staying in the job? Yes. Not producing not actually filling the objectives of the role, just existing. But just showing

Jason Baum 25:25
up? Yes. Just showing up.

Colleen Verriest 25:29
Yeah, so that could be burnout. That could be please fire me. For me, do for me what I can do for myself, or pay attention? And I wonder you know, how, how is leadership responding to that? Organizations? You know, I find that to be really fascinating, because I, in multiple leadership roles could never just ignore that. Right, you know, and, and let’s be honest, not every employee of every organization, you’re not, this is the truth. Not everyone will be happy all the time. That is the truth. You wish it were not the case? Because you ultimately, want everyone to feel okay. But we’re humans? Well, we’re humans and normal. Yeah. So it’s not. However, if, you know, people are just gliding. I think there’s also, you know, there’s this piece where business folks that I’ve connected with recently have had real difficulty hiring and replacing. So I don’t know if people are afraid to confront that sort of gliding because they’re afraid they’re not going to get someone to fill that seat. And people have a sense of like, I’m just so tired of this. So I’m just going to do the bare minimum. If that I guess and see, don’t roll the dice. If they’re not going to get rid of you know, I’m not sure that’s a really dicey, tricky, dynamic. Because then how do you know, there has to be some level of accountability that that, you know, you still have to produce whatever it is that organization or entity is producing, whether it’s human services car dealership, who knows what, you know, you name it, I mean, you still need people show up and do their job, you know, right. If someone’s burnt out, then, you know, ideally, from a leadership perspective, you have to be able to confront that. And check in, you know, and create, ultimately create a sense of trust with your team members. And I know when I’ve noticed changes, and ideally, any leader that notices changes in a team member, it’s really incumbent upon them to check in. It’s, it’s, it’s a miss when we can and if you don’t feel comfortable doing it alone, do it with a colleague that’s nonthreatening. You know, like, Hey, call me and I’m noticing this is not like you, you know, are you okay? And that’s the first step I believe in, in someone feeling recognized, you know, if they’re sort of showing up in a way that’s different, that can be really, it can be a little scary, but can be very validating.

Jason Baum 28:19
Maybe that’s all they need to sometimes know. It feels like to me, right? Yeah, it opens the door, it allows them to be like, Look, and then they can unload. It’s like, I got this, I got this, I got this somehow I got this too. How can we don’t have more people doing it? You know, they’ll go off, right? When you give them the opportunity to and at times, that’s really what they need. And then yeah, you hear him? Right, the fact that you notice and can hear there’s a problem and acknowledge the problem is, is half the battle.

Colleen Verriest 28:48
Yeah, and I, I have seen that work in just the way you described. And I’ve had a staff member where I did notice, even in a meeting, if someone was just not presenting, you know, and then here we all are on, you know, Zoom now and so you’re not feeling like that body language, but you can sense you know, I think that body language and people’s energy can is can be a little bit harder to tap into. It’s not impossible. But I had a staff member who just wasn’t themselves in a meeting, I mean, just really not themselves. And I checked in and then I asked if they were, you know, something going on because you’re just Something’s off. And then I found out there was something totally unrelated to work going on, you know, whether these whether someone feels comfortable sharing that or not, sometimes it can just be you know, what, the tip of the iceberg, you know, and you’re letting them know in this and it has nothing to do with work. But yes, I have a lot going on. Then you know, as a leader, this person has a lot going on outside of work. How could Okay, and then the next question is, how can I support you? You know, is there anything we can do? Hear a shift here for the next week? Or a couple of days? You know, it doesn’t have to be forever, you’re not. I think sometimes people are afraid they’re going to make accommodations that they then have to, you know, hold on to forever. But that’s not the case.

Jason Baum 30:13
Or that there’s no one like that, that no one wants to help or that there’s no, I don’t think and maybe I don’t want to speak for every manager that’s out there. But I don’t think there is any manager who is actively like, I’m going to overload this person to the point where they’re going to go quit. No, no, I don’t think that’s I don’t think that it should be not the mentality of any manager that is out there. I’m sure there’s probably some some some bad managers there. Of course, there are. But I don’t even think for them that the mission is to get someone to quit because why now you’re down in a, someone to help with I mean, now you have the workload on your back to write. So I think maybe it is just hearing it and understanding what is on their plate under and then working towards how you can divvy up the work past it, maybe some things aren’t necessarily as high priority as as, as they thought, you know, there’s so many

Colleen Verriest 31:12
things, right, helping someone prioritize, I think can be really effective. And sometimes, in the midst of being overwhelmed and burnt out, in a sense, it can be about looking at something, reframing something, you know, taking whatever those items are within someone’s work life, let’s say, and being able to look at it with a fresh set of eyes. And I think sometimes we’re just in it, and we don’t see it clearly. And sometimes just having that conversation with a peer sometimes who’s not maybe you’re not so threatened by can be helpful, like, Hey, am I looking at this correctly, maybe you don’t have to go to your supervisor, if you’re feeling less comfortable doing that initially. And sometimes appear a colleague can say, you know, can give you a suggestion. And it can kind of open up a new paths, a possible way of handling something or prioritizing something and I think, you know, monotony at work can attribute to burnout, you know, certainly, I would imagine, in the developing world, that monotony, you know, and, and this sense of like, is having a feeling of impact like is what I’m doing really having an impact. Feeling that sense of, again, it goes to efficacy, you know, and, and, depending on what it is, that fills us up as individuals like what energizes us, what satisfies us in the workplace, and if you can find those things in your day, day to day, where you can kind of get to those sooner and know that you can maybe prioritize those things that energize you. And then realize that the other things may be necessary parts of your job. But you know, if you can shift them to like a later part of your day, or knock them out in the beginning, but kind of looking at your, your work life, your workday in a way where you can recognize the things that actually you do enjoy, I think that’s important. And then realizing I’m not going to love every part of my job, you know. And then being able to kind of carve out those times, so that maybe you bookend your days with two energizing parts of your work if you have the luxury of like scheduling your own time.

Jason Baum 33:38
Yeah. And I do want to there’s this word that just keeps coming to my mind constantly as we’re talking. And it is. Boundaries. But before you before we get into that, I do want to ask, before we get into that as part of this, it’s hard. Part of the same question is, you know, how do you avoid burnout? And is it even avoidable? Because it sounds pretty normal. But then the other piece for me because I’ll just speak about myself. I set it in the beginning when I went on my vacation, I shut everything off. For really the first time in two years I did that I’ve really been working on boundaries. And I think for myself, I have seen improvement in my own sense of when I am feeling burned out regardless of where it is in life. I have the ability to say no. And not like impolitely like nope, not doing it. But you know, but thinking of alternatives, but also saying no. or delegating like you said earlier trying to figure out how I was a bad delegator before took too long and too much on you have heroes right? You have the people who want to play hero you have people who are like, I’ll take it out. And then And then we talked about that. So is burnout avoidable? And, you know, how do we combat it?

Colleen Verriest 35:09
Yeah. I think burnout is something we can mitigate. I don’t know that we can avoid it altogether. At certain times, you know, and maybe it’s elements of burnout. Maybe at one point in time, you may have the exhaustion piece, but you may not be so pessimistic about work, but you may have elements of it, right. So I don’t know that anyone feels burnout. 100%, for sure, but I think we have elements of it that we can mitigate. And boundaries are a key piece. Pausing, taking breaks, are critical. So just let’s speak about the boundary piece. And you mentioned it, Jason. So one of the things that I think can feel really uncomfortable is setting new boundaries, it can be uncomfortable for the person and uncomfortable for our colleagues because we’ve now sort of created a new pattern of behavior that those are those around us are accustomed to, say, responding to email after 6 pm. And they want an answer after 6 pm. So use an example of I’m going to stop checking email at 6 pm. Because it’s so easy on our phones, etc. So, a colleague of mine started doing that. And the response was, are you okay? Is everything okay? You haven’t been getting back to me? Are you sick? Are you going for treatments, you know, that kind of thing. And in reality, that person was really okay and actually doing something really healthy. So, when you do that, you have to be prepared for people being uncomfortable, and not all the people in your life, but some people because some people will never turn it off. However, once we do that, I think it gives permission to our colleagues, like, Oh, if that person does it, then maybe I can do that too, and create sort of a culture shift. So I love the idea of boundaries. And I’m a big proponent of that, you know, stop checking it six, or 530 or five, whatever your number is, you know, and then nothing is going to change that’s life-threatening. With between five and nine or five at 8:35 pm to 8:30 am. If you need to be contacted for an emergency, I’m sure someone would figure out how to get in touch with you. And most things can wait 24 hours, most things. So being able to sit with that. And in I think because we’re all really wired now, you know, anything, we want to look up any answer we want, we get it whenever we want. I see it in my son just Google that for me or ask Alexa, you know, so we have to like trick ourselves and start working with ourselves to take that break key. Because especially if we’re not happy in our jobs, why would we want to spend more time engaging in a job that we’re not happy in after hours, it’s just going to make that feeling of dread worse, and dissatisfaction worse, because you’re resenting all the time you’re spending working, when you don’t like your work, or you’re feeling disconnected. So it’s sort of a vicious cycle. I also think, oh, go ahead. Did you want to say something? Jason?

Jason Baum 38:29
No, please go ahead. I was just gonna add something. But yeah, please go ahead.

Colleen Verriest 38:33
You know, and I also think, in that when you take time off, you take time off, this is just another piece of the boundary that when you’re on vacation, and for some of us who’ve had different roles or leadership roles, you understand that you’re taking on certain things at certain times. How, however, if you’re on vacation, and this is quality time that you’ve now designated, and gosh, we need to unplug, we all need to unplug, you know, kudos to you for doing that. That was awesome to hear that, you know, and then the impact

Jason Baum 39:11
comes at a breaking point, though. It shouldn’t get to that but yeah, right.

Colleen Verriest 39:15
Right. You know, it also, and I’ve seen this, as I said before, it really does give permission to your staff. If my staff saw me answering emails my entire vacation, what did you think? What message are you sending? You know, I’m sending a terrible message. And it’s not it’s ideally not what I want my staff to do all you so you have to walk the walk. And I think as leaders we have to walk the walk and also don’t penalize anybody. If they actually do that, you know, on your team. It can’t be like, Oh, well, we’re calling goes on vacation. We never hear from her. No, you don’t, you know, no, you don’t, you know, let the people on your in your circle now. And really take advantage of that break, because that will help. It will you will feel refreshed, and you will feel a sense of separation from the workplace, which then can help with burnout. Ultimately,

Jason Baum 40:17
there are so many studies that have been done since the pandemic, even just specifically about what you just talked about this time, right? And the fact that we do need to have time to disconnect and that you’re, I mean, just I so many businesses are now implementing it. Not enough more need to but you know, mental health days or an extra day holiday a month or I’ve seen the four-day work week starting to really take off in many companies. I hope that’s the thing. I’m going to say out loud and proud. I know. Our CEO listens. I’ll say it now it’s public. No, I’ve cuz I’m a believer. And I’ve also read up on it’s not just oh, I want a four-day work week. There. There are proven studies on companies that actually have four-day work weeks, where productivity actually improves. Oh, for sure. And it’s because the weight load is not you know, they’re not people aren’t carrying all this for so long, and they get a breather and you come back refreshed, just like I did on my vacation and told my entire staff, you got to do it. Now you got to go on vacation, you need to do something for yourself and unplug. So, yeah, unfortunately, we’re running up against time. I would love to continue this conversation. Perhaps we should.

Colleen Verriest 41:32
I would love to. There’s more to be said there’s more to be said.

Jason Baum 41:36
Absolutely. Colleen, thank you so much for joining us today. This is an absolute pleasure to have you and talk on this subject.

Colleen Verriest 41:43
Oh yeah. Thank you so much, Jason.

Jason Baum 41:45
And thank you for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps Podcast. I’m going to end this episode The way I always do, encouraging you to become a member of DevOps Institute to get access to even more great resources just like this one. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and most of all, stay human. Live long and prosper.

Narrator 42:06
Thanks for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps podcast. Don’t forget to join our global community to get access to even more great resources like this. Until next time, remember, you are part of something bigger than yourself. You belong

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