After burn-out (being overworked) and bore-out (being bored at work), two researchers have explored the idea of another workplace anxiety: brown-out (loss of meaning). In exploring this phenomenon, Deloitte conducted a study in December 2017, which revealed that in France, more than one in two employees (55%) believe that, over time, less meaning is to be found at work.
Many companies are taking action to improve well-being at work, for instance, through the appointment of a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer), the possibility of bringing your pet to work, many after-work drinks and/or professional seminars. However, can these actions, on their own, sufficiently boost employee commitment?
The following section now provides you with an overview of the best practice to be adopted to ensure the commitment - individual and collective - of a company’s employees and their well-being in the company.
Identify the first signs of unhappiness
Flat battery, insomnia problems, inability to "switch off" from work in the evening or on weekends: burn-out. Watch the time go by, make coffee breaks last, browse the Internet without any specific purpose, etc. bore-out. Looking for meaning, absurdity of certain daily tasks, misunderstanding of corporate culture: brown-out.
It is very much in the company’s interest to listen to its team and quickly identify these signs of unhappiness. Why not ask them for regular feedback on the general company atmosphere?
Cultivating a corporate culture
Corporate culture can be defined in many ways and for good reason, as it encompasses many elements: the state of mind between employees, the way of interacting with customers, the company's values, etc. In short, corporate culture is the meaning given to all the actions we undertake in the workplace. This is what makes employees want to get up in the morning and customers trust in the company.
Brown-out, which literally means "power dip", is closely linked to the decline in employee engagement. These employees lack vision and have a lack of perspective on their tasks. To remedy this, the company must clearly define its corporate culture.
In order to establish this sense of belonging in the employee - and to make him or her feel proud to work within the company - clear, achievable and measurable objectives must be defined over time. Even if it is primarily the responsibility of Senior Management, corporate culture is influenced by the entire management structure, which is responsible for implementing the actions carried out to foster a feeling of belonging.
Displaying recognition for a job well done is also a valuable tool to help employees maintain their motivation. The manager must, therefore, value the efforts and investment of any employee.
Emphasise independence but establish a framework
To maximise their performance, employees need benchmarks, a pre-established framework that clarifies the company's values. These rules can take the form of internal rules, an internal newsletter or a guide to good practice.
While agency can be a factor of well-being and growth for many, for others it can quickly become a cause of stress and discomfort. Autonomy therefore depends on the degree of each person’s maturity in their profession and their ability to withstand pressure.
It is therefore essential for managers to identify and adapt to the needs of each of their employees, as to anticipate any signs of boredom(bore-out) or overwork (burn-out).
Individual support - through assessments or psychometric tests or interviews - must be put in place to create the ideal combination between employees' aspirations, personality, their job and corporate culture. Each individual aspires to his or her own quest for meaning: one will believe that altruism is an essential value in corporate culture, whilst another will focus more on a results culture.
All the studies lead to the same conclusion: workers are changing and want to give meaning to their work. To meet this challenge, the best solution remains the most obvious: create a climate of trust with teams, encourage employees to give warnings of workplace anxiety and support them in detecting initial symptoms of anxiety and improve well-being at work.