Long Cycles, Short Cycles: Implications for Burnout and Engagement

When the only constant is change, people become concerned with predicting the direction and intensity of change.

SineWave cropped

A specific concern regarding burnout/engagement is the changes in energy levels that people experience at work. Energy fluctuates to some degree. People begin a workday with a given amount of energy and use up some of their potential as the day progresses. The picture above gives a general idea of energy levels decreasing through sustained effort at work and recovering during restful recovery between workdays.

But it’s never that simple.

Daily cycles reside within weekly or yearly cycles. Within each day energy moves up or down in response to tedium on the downside and exhilaration on the positive side. The diagram below begins the capture the complexity.

Multi-wave cropped

But this picture represents only the beginning of that complexity. The cycles do not follow a regular time schedule. Energy varies with responses to events or physiological changes: catching a cold throws the pattern into a tizzy.

But this picture represents only the beginning of that complexity. The cycles do not follow a regular time schedule. Energy varies with responses to events or physiological changes: catching a cold throws the pattern into a tizzy.

Which way are you heading today?

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Over the years, Dr. Leiter has worked closely with a host of researchers, including Dr. Christine Maslach, creator of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), and most recently, with Dr. Arnold Bakker on work engagement. Now, through work with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) - the largest integrated health care system in the U.S. - Dr. Leiter has the CREW Solution.

What is your usual pattern

...when you wake up feeling ill?

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