Everyone experiences stress at some point in their professional lives, but with heightened rates of workplace burnout affecting employees across countless professions, increased pressure is being put on organizations and leaders to combat long-term job stress and exhaustion.

Technological advancements and the rise of remote work have increasingly blurred the line between employees’ work and personal lives. This, coupled with the external stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, has created a perfect storm for burnout, with many leaders coming to the stark realization that workplace habits and culture must change.

A recent survey report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that 75% of human resources (HR) professionals believe senior leaders have employee well-being on their agenda, up from 61% in 2020. Preventing chronic workplace stress is becoming a key focus for organizations, but many business leaders remain unsure where to focus their efforts for the best results.

Leaders Are Suffering from Burnout, Too

The challenge of combatting burnout is compounded by a decline in leaders’ well-being, with new research indicating that leader fatigue is threatening workplace stability and compromising post-pandemic recovery: In a study by LifeWorks and Deloitte Canada, 82% of senior leaders reported feeling exhausted, and nearly one-quarter are considering quitting.

The study, conducted among private and public sector organizations, also reported that increased pressure leads to behavioral change among leaders. This trickles down to employees and ultimately causes workplace burnout at lower levels, which is why addressing leadership techniques and operating more consciously is crucial to building a resilient workforce.

What Is Conscious Leadership?

Conscious leadership arms leaders with the resources they need to take care of their own well-being. This helps them realize their potential and operate more effectively, equipping them with the required knowledge and skills to meet their teams’ needs. Conscious leaders are self-aware, resilient, intentional in their actions, committed to continuous improvement and are dedicated to creating a safe and healthy working environment for everyone.

Leaders play a critical role in shaping organizational culture and well-being, so it’s vital that they too are supported to maintain engagement and productivity. Conscious leaders sustain performance alongside wellbeing, benefitting all employees and boosting organizational success.

How Do Conscious Leaders Prevent Burnout?

Conscious leaders are engaged, satisfied and able to successfully fulfill their responsibilities. By ensuring their own needs are met, they’re equipped to protect their mental well-being and that of others. Conscious leaders prevent burnout through the following five qualities:

  1. Awareness

The conscious leadership approach promotes self-awareness, helping leaders recognize their needs and take care of themselves. Conscious leaders have a heightened ability to observe their thoughts, emotions and limitations and can use this awareness to protect themselves against stress and exhaustion.

  1. Resilience

Conscious leaders are able to meet challenging demands and deal successfully with difficult situations. They do this by preserving energy, maintaining a positive mindset and learning the best ways for them to work sustainably.

  1. Self-care

The most successful leaders practice self-care: They can switch off and know when to prioritize well-being. Leaders that commit time and energy to self-care are more satisfied in their roles and less likely to experience emotional fatigue. They also lead by healthy example and encourage employees to look after themselves, creating more satisfied and productive teams.

  1. Purpose

Conscious leaders bring a sense of purpose to their role, which boosts well-being and helps them stay motivated. By acting with purpose, successful leaders can successfully focus their energy on tasks and areas that will have the greatest impact.

  1. Empathy

As well as recognizing signs of burnout within themselves, conscious leaders’ empathetic qualities help them intuit signs of stress and exhaustion in their teams. Conscious leadership can prevent burnout across organizations, with a culture of self-care and well-being fostered from the top.

When leaders look after their health, stay in tune with their emotions and use effective methods to find work-life balance, they embody the message that it’s okay (and encouraged!) for employees to prioritize their own needs. This promotes a positive response across organizations and results in a happy and healthy work environment for everyone.

To Prevent Burnout, Start at the Top

Burnout is intrinsically linked to company culture, and to prevent it, leaders must create a space where employees feel inspired, motivated, energized and supported as individuals. For this to happen, leaders must first commit to becoming more conscious, nurturing self-awareness and resilience that will help them meet their own needs as well as their teams’.

For leaders to learn more about themselves and determine their level of consciousness, they may find psychometric testing to be a helpful tool. This could provide 19% more information about burnout, helping leaders notice their triggers and predict low mental well-being before it happens.