POSTED 17 Jun 2019 - 10:40

How do you, as a business leader, cope with burnout at work?

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How do you prevent it from occurring?

Top Response

Chris J Reed, Global CEO and Founder, Black Marketing

Burnout is a myth. Is Cristiano Ronaldo at 35 years old burnt out? Nope. He's still scoring hatricks and leading his team to titles while playing 60 games a season, never having a break for 20 years. As a leader you are in charge of how you deal with challenges, the ups and downs of business,...


Jayajyoti Sengupta, Head of Asia-Pacific and Japan, Cognizant
17 Jun 2019 - 10:58

Discipline is key to managing work-life balance. To me, preventing burnout is about everything from recognising triggers and determining priorities, to making room for downtime, recreation and hobbies by dropping off the grid. Stress is as much about work pressure as it is about one's ability to deal with that pressure.

The mantra is to enjoy work, but not let achievement and ambition become one's nemesis. My advice is to establish boundaries, stop looking at inhuman responsibilities as badges of honour, break work into smaller, more manageable tasks, and make self-care more proactive than reactive. Not being connected to what truly matters to you aggravates stress. Leaders must therefore create a culture of engagement, empowerment and learning.

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Chris J Reed, Global CEO and Founder, Black Marketing
17 Jun 2019 - 10:50

Burnout is a myth. Is Cristiano Ronaldo at 35 years old burnt out? Nope. He's still scoring hatricks and leading his team to titles while playing 60 games a season, never having a break for 20 years. As a leader you are in charge of how you deal with challenges, the ups and downs of business, people. Blaming burnout is lazy and an easy excuse.

When you have a passion for what you do and love what you do, funnily enough you never feel burnout. I've run Black Marketing for six years and never taken a proper holiday.

I never feel like I need to. I cycle and do weights daily, live life to the full, work hard and play harder seven days/nights a week. If you feel burnout you really need to look at changing your country, environment, company. . . entire outlook. Maybe become an entrepreneur and live your life how you want to; not how your bosses want you too . . .

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Motohiko Uno, President, Singapore, Fujitsu Asia Pte Ltd
17 Jun 2019 - 10:50

Each of us should be free to embrace infocom-tech solutions to make our lives and work easier, including to prevent burnout. Employees are one of our valued assets, and we respect diversity and support individual long-term growth as part of our corporate philosophy.

I am conscious to walk the talk by setting a corporate culture that improves the worklife balance and productivity of employees, such as tapping on mobile technology to cater to varied work styles and needs. In addition to participating in initiatives such as not scheduling meetings after working hours, I balance my work commitments with my personal pursuits. From taking part in marathons and playing golf, to making time to meet friends over a meal or drinks, it is a proactive commitment every day to take charge of me and my team's mental health.

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Tony Lombardo, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Lendlease
17 Jun 2019 - 10:49

What enables me to operate sustainably at a high level is having a team that I can trust and rely on for mutual support. My focus is on building a great culture in which my team can thrive and do their best work.

I believe that creating a culture of care in the workplace contributes to our sense of wellbeing. Our health & wellbeing framework helps colleagues find the support they need, improve stress management and inculcate mindfulness. At Lendlease, we also offer flexible work to better accommodate our employees' lifestyles. All these contribute towards a better quality of work life and enables all of us to manage work stress better to prevent burnout.

Mike Davie, CEO, Quadrant
17 Jun 2019 - 10:49

The best way to avoid burnout at work is to keep a fit body and mind. To ensure my body is able to handle the stress of running a startup, I compete in Xterra (off-road triathlon) and run races all over the region, including Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. In the past I have also run the DMZ Half Marathon along the border between North and South Korea.

Training for these races forces me to get out of the office and push myself mentally and physically. Most importantly, it allows me to step away from the phone and computer and think of the bigger picture and prioritise my tasks.

Furthermore, such intense physical exercise encourages me to eat properly and drink plenty of water. It also helps me sleep well and generally reduces my own stress levels. By staying mentally and physically fit, I can handle better what stresses our startup throws at me.

Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Managing Director, Robert Half Singapore
17 Jun 2019 - 10:48

Respecting work-life balance goes a long way towards preventing burnout. Leaders need to serve as a model by leaving work on time and disconnecting from work after business hours. Being fair and setting realistic goals and timelines are crucial as well.

During busy times, help employees understand the extra work is not the norm. Leaders should also recognise the signs that might indicate burnout and address those by - for example - assigning a mentor or hiring temporary support. Providing an employee helpline should they need to speak to someone to destress is also helpful to prevent burnout in the workplace.

Victor Mills, Chief Executive, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce
17 Jun 2019 - 10:48

Burnout at work is caused by one of two things: a toxic workplace usually, because of toxic bosses, or a feeling of inadequacy or a skills gap for the job.

The cure for the first is to move on if the company is unwilling or unable to help. If you like the job, the cure for the second is to ask for help from your colleagues and your boss. Most times you'll be supported. If you don't like the job, leave. In either case, never suffer in silence. Take action. You'll feel better and perform better.

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Cheong Hoe Wai, President, Oil and Gas Business, Black & Veatch Group
17 Jun 2019 - 10:47

Stress at work is not necessarily a bad thing. Most people function better under some amount of stress and pressure from deadlines - it often brings out the best in us.

But prolonged stress and long hours at work signal an undesirable situation that will have negative health effects on us. One very useful way to counter stress at work is to effectively delegate tasks to subordinates, allowing one to prioritise time towards higher-level strategic decision-making. Needless to say, the effectiveness of any delegation depends on the capability of subordinates and how much you trust them to make the right decisions with minimum intervention from you. Engaging in hobbies outside work is another effective means of relieving stress.

For example, I enjoy fishing, fresh and saltwater. I'm not your regular weekend angler but a fairly intense enthusiast who analyses fishing methods, water temperatures, feeding habits, different types and colour of bait/tackle, etc etc. I read widely and treat it as a challenging art form - how to locate and entice fish to take my bait. The point is, one has to totally engage and immerse oneself into a hobby for it to be effective as a stress reliever.

The ultimate goal is for the mind to be so totally immersed that you forget about work completely, for a short duration. It can even be something as fun as a family vacation, but the criteria must be total immersion - no emails, no texts/phones, no office contact.

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