WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSEQUENCES
Burnout has costs for organizations, as well as for society at large because it is related to employer/employee conflict, poorer job performance, higher absenteeism, poor morale, chronic work disability, physical health impediments, increased hospital admissions due to mental and medical disorders. Burnout is associated with a substantial excess risk of medically certified sickness absence among both men and women.
Results from a 2004/2005 survey showed that absenteeism caused by stress is estimated to cost the UK economy £ 3.7 billion per year. Poor work related mental health is associated with enormous economic costs. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work estimated that the annual economic cost of work-related stress disorders in the EU was about € 20 billion (about USD 25 billion) in 2002. Similar losses have been estimated for other western countries
PSYCHIATRIC, MEDICAL AND SOCIAL SEQUELAE
Burnout may lead to anger issues, substance abuse, depression or even suicide. Although defined as a psychological syndrome, it can also have physical manifestations. For example, individuals who experience burnout generally report headaches, gastrointestinal disorders and sleep disturbance. Poor work-life balance and sedentary lifestyle leads to poor diet and weight issues. The subsequent poor health maintenance may lead to diabetes, cardiac illnesses, etc.
There are definite personal, family and social consequences. Placing work aspirations over and above family may lead to work-home conflicts, and failed relationships with spouse and children.
All these create a series of negative feedbacks or a ‘vicious circle’, creating a seemingly endless downhill spiral.
SOLUTIONS TO BURNOUT
Work engagement is defined as “a positive, fulfilling state of mind characterized by vigour, dedication, energy, involvement, efficacy in opposition to exhaustion, cynicism, and lack of efficacy – the three constituting elements of burnout.” Engaged employees have an effective connection with their work activities.
Work engagement may reduce frequency of sickness absences, increase organizational commitment and work-family enrichment, and decrease the possibility of depression and anxiety. Thus, work engagement may have positive organizational, individual as well as family-related consequences.
Perhaps the most important component of job engagement is to accept the tenet that personal wellbeing, both physical and emotional, is as important as work-related success.
It is important to honestly define your own personal and professional values and goals, and then select a career path and work environment based on priorities.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, on accepting the role of Pramukh (President) of the BAPS Sanstha, pledged to guru Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and others that he would dedicate his body in the service of the Sanstha. He said, “Today, before you, Guruhari, and before this assembly I take an oath that I will fully carry out my duties to this Sanstha of yours, without caring for my body. I will remain sincere, and be fulfilled. You have cultivated this garden of the knowledge of Akshar-Purushottam; I will serve, daily persevere and take care that it flowers in every way. I wish for the blessings of the entire Fellowship; may you all grant me this. In all my duties for Satsang, Pujya Yogiji Maharaj, sadgurus, senior sadhus, parshads and all devotees I appeal with a pure heart that you all give me your full cooperation so that I may be strengthened to perform this tremendous service.”
With such commitment to duty throughout his entire life, Swamishri never suffered from burnout. He remained absolutely engaged all day, seven days a week, all the year round and throughout the year.
Emotional Intelligence (EI)
Emotional intelligence (EI) is an individual’s ability to perceive, process and regulate one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. It informs how an individual internally manages emotional and environmental stressors, as well as how one navigates relationships with others. Emotional intelligence has been associated with less mood deterioration and emotional reactivity following stressors. Those with higher EI are better equipped to handle the stressors associated with work. Individuals with higher EI are thought to perceive, process and regulate emotions more effectively, which can lead to enhanced well-being and less emotional disturbance. Interventions designed to increase EI can help lessen the prevalence and degree of burnout and depression.
Whereas EI describes five core personality traits, the Shrimad Bhagavat enumerates the 39 virtues of God and his holy Sadhu. These 39 qualities were exemplified in the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and demonstrate the skills with which Swamishri dealt with life’s trial and tribulations.
Work-life balance has been defined as being not only about families and children. Nor is it about working less. It’s about working smartly and being fresh enough to give whatever is necessary to both work and home, without jeopardizing one for the other. Personal strategies for the work-life balance:
Define personal and professional values
Select the appropriate job and specialty
Develop strategies to respond to stress
Maintain supportive relationships
Take care of personal needs: sleep, nutrition, exercise, health
Accept personal limitations
Be positive and thankful
Express gratitude and appreciation.
There are numerous strategies that help to reduce stress, including exercise, volunteer work, spirituality, social service, and others. Research suggests that spending more than 90 minutes a day with your spouse is a predictor of a happy relationship. In addition, it is important to remain positive and be thankful for whatever we have in life.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj read and replied to over 700,000 letters, devoting an average of two hours a day to counsel and console through his pen. And this he accomplished in the midst of constant travelling, attending assemblies, meeting devotees, attending administrative meetings and all his other activities.
IN THE JOY OF OTHERS
In 1977, Swamishri wrote a letter from abroad during his hectic Satsang tour which sums up the situation nicely: “There is no end to our travelling and no end to the mail I have to deal with at all times in the car, when sitting or even in bed. Only then am I able to manage. But with (Yogi) Bapa’s strength, I am able to cope.”
Once, C.M. Patel of London gave a friendly comment to Swamishri in Bhadra, “Bapa! You keep writing letters all day. These sadhus don’t let you stay free for even one minute!”
Swamishri spoke, “This is our service to Maharaj.”
Swamishri remained actively engaged throughout his life. There was never a moment where he demonstrated emotional fatigue, detachment or deficiency. Swamishri’s mindset remained permanently positive and divine in spite of the challenges of running a global socio-spiritual organization. Burnout remained foreign to Swamishri. As much as Western medicine is endeavouring to understand and come to grips with burnout, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life provides an insight into how to avoid burnout.
Today, Mahant Swami Maharaj remains equipoised and absorbed in divinity in all his daily activities. He gives his fullest attention to whatever he does: morning puja, Thakorji’s darshan, meeting the devotees and attending to letters. Thus, by having his darshan one becomes destressed and experiences inner tranquility.