“I don’t know if it’s burnout, but I’ve set
off the smoke alarm six times today.”
If you read my post last week, you will know where I ended up last Sunday
In the A&E of a Dublin hospital.
But the story didn’t end there.
On Tuesday I had to return to the hospital for scans which showed a complete rupture of my right Achilles tendon. Cue surgery on Wednesday morning, and my foot is now in a cast for the next few weeks.
What was interesting while at the hospital is we met many good people, many of which seemed over-worked and very tired.
One of the people assessing me had been working 14 hours by the time he got to see me.
It was clear he was smart and a good guy but in the space of 15 minutes he made several errors that both myself and my wife noticed. He caught some of them himself and corrected them, but others he didn’t.
When I asked him how long he’d been working this kind of shift, he just smiled and said ‘It’s just the way it is. I’ll be fine.’
He was missing the point, I was asking about his potential impact on me, because he was a key point in the recovery process!
Burnout has become a hot topic over the last week as the WHO recently classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon – but many are wondering if it’s really as widespread as claimed. (See NY Times article here)
Whatever your viewpoint, the reality is that fatigued people make more mistakes. And often, the systems that people work in allows fatigue to build up. Or perhaps it normalises ‘the way it is’.
As leaders, we have to ask ourselves, what systems are we enabling or indeed, creating? And to what ends?
And how well are we looking after the people that look after our customers?
Thankfully, the surgeon who operated on my leg seemed with it – he had good energy and was very present when we spoke.
But I wouldn’t have let that other guy operate on my leg.