How to prevent burnout before it starts, with Alyssa Klenotich and Julie Olson Rand
I first got interested in the idea of burnout for faculty and staff through the work of Rebecca Pope-Ruark, author of Unraveling Faculty Burnout: Pathways to Reckoning & Renewal. So I’ve been attuned to conversations about it — not just among colleagues who are experiencing it, but also among women who are eager to help each other prevent, avoid, and extinguish it. The work of Julie Olson Rand and Alyssa Klenotich caught my eye: it’s grounded in lived experiences, draws on research, and suggests paths forward for women — for all of us — to support each other by building a community of care.
the episode at a glance:
>>1:09. Alyssa Klenotich and Julie Olson Rand join the show today! Alyssa (she/her) is the Assistant Director for Student Accessibility and Accommodations at St. Catherine University, and Julie (she/they) is the Associate Director for Access Programs at the University of Minnesota. She most recently served as Director for Student Accessibility and Accommodations at St. Kate’s, which is where she worked with Alyssa.
>>05:25. Alyssa explains how stress functions in our bodies, and how burnout results when we aren’t able to close the stress-loop because the things that are stressing us out never come to an end. (So real!) Obviously this has become so much worse with the Covid-19 pandemic, and is especially exacerbated for folks who have underlying mental health challenges.
>>07:43. Julie’s research shows that students returning to campus after the shutdown found it very difficult to “return to normal,” which possibly accelerated the rate of stress turning to burnout. This is made worse by the economic fallout, the disproportionate impact on people of color, and the political and racial tensions of the summer of 2020. In addition, folks in helping professions are more prone to burnout anyway. So the last few years have been kind of a perfect storm for leading to burnout.
>>12:41. We talk about how important is to understand what “typical” behavior looks like, so that when our colleagues and students are exhibiting signs of stress and burnout, we can recognize it early enough to be able to offer support.
>>15:22. “Why are you telling me to pay it forward? How is that going to help me?” Alyssa tells the story of being at a self-care workshop that recommended “paying it forward” as a self-care strategy. A community of care is setting up an environment that promotes, encourages, and supports self-care. Alyssa links this to the white supremacy values that pervade our work culture.
>>21:00. We talk about why telling women who need help feel better by helping others is problematic, and the problems with how self-care is defined in today’s culture in the US. Julie links this to the value of community: having a circle around you, and knowing you can turn to them for help. Building a community of care requires being able to trust the people around you.
>>27:15. Julie talks about why community is important and how people can start building a community even before crisis starts. This idea started with two particular books: Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski, and In it for the Long Haul, by Kathy Obear.
>>40:48. We discuss how remote work really benefits folks from historically excluded identities — it can reduce racial microaggressions, increase access and support for folks with disabilities, and even build trust and comfort for folks who need occasional flexibility. Hybrid and remote work environments hold the possibility for reducing all kinds of barriers.
>>44:49. Alyssa shares ideas for building community of care, and how to be part of someone else’s community.
>>49:00. Julies shares why, and why, preventing burnout is a long game, including some strategies for leaders to ensure their teams are surrounded by a caring community.
readings and recommendations:
In It For The Long Haul, by Kathy Obear.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
The Resilient Practitioner: Burnout and Compassion Fatigue Prevention and Self-Care Strategies for the Helping Professions, by Thomas M. Skovholt and Michelle Trotter-Mathison.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. By Vessl van der Kolk.
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael Singer.
Rebecca Pope Ruark, Unraveling Faculty Burnout: Pathways to Reckoning and Renewal.
A link again to Tema Okun’s foundational piece on White Supremacy Culture.
The Better Good Life: An Essay on Personal Sustainability, by Pilar Gerasimo, Experience Life
Pay Raises, Massages, and Free Food: Can Colleges Lift Employees’ Morale? By Eric Kelelman, Chronicle of Higher Education
Toxic Culture is Driving the Great Resignation, by Donald Sull, Charles Sull and Ben Zweig, MIT Sloan Management Review
Self Care isn’t Enough. We Need Community Care to Thrive, by Heather Dockray
You’ve Burned Out. Now What? By Rebecca Pope-Ruark, The Chronicle of Higher Education
When Passion Leads to Burnout, by Jennifer Moss, Harvard Business Review
Employee Self-Care: 10 Ways Organizations Can Be Supportive, by Sharlyn Lauby, Workforce Institute
White Supremacy Culture From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun
How to set clear work boundaries–and stick to them, by Jayne Hardy
Women in the Workplace 2022 by McKinsey & Company
5 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask Their Direct Reports, by Susan Peppercorn, Harvard Business Review
Students Vote for Remote (Employees), by Melissa Ezarik, Inside Higher Ed
The cure for burnout (hint: it isn’t self-care) interview with Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
How to Manage Compassion Fatigue, by Patricia Smith, Tedx San Juan Island
The Case for a 4-day Workweek, by Juliet Schnor, Ted2022
Unlocking Us with Brene Brown
Self-Tests for Awareness (Quality of Life Tests, Life Stress Test, Empath Test)
Maslach Burnout Inventory ™ (MBI)
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