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#273 – Burnout

October 15th, 2021

Taking naps at Parabol

In my experience, talking about burnout at work has always been taboo. Burnout adjacent buzzwords get tossed around – work/life balance, flexible schedules, summer Fridays – but not burnout itself.

Until Parabol.

The Growth team held a retrospective last week where the main topic for discussion was burnout, or, as we playfully called it, “We need naps.” I love working at Parabol, but I have been learning that loving your job doesn’t disqualify you from burnout. We’re a group of people who actively try to help each other in our work and want to invest our energy in achieving the company’s purpose: to enable meaningful interactions at work. We’re a small team and there is always so much to do, making it easy for burnout to creep up without us noticing.

It was the second time burnout has been a hot topic for us in a retrospective. A few of the reflections included:

“Frustrated by my own pace of work this past two weeks. I just couldn’t get stuff over the line.”

“Burn out: Life has been particularly crazy these past few weeks. I may not be approaching my day-to-day with the same energy that I would normally have.”

Leadership didn’t shy away from the topic at all. After asking us to share one thing we wished could be taken off our plate, and noticing a theme of hiring being a burden, there was a quick decision to close a role that wasn’t an immediate hiring need. It was so encouraging to see action taken right away.

As a company, we shared other techniques we have to help keep burnout at a distance:

  • ⏱ “Theming” our time
  • 😴 Taking naps
  • 🐶 Playing and cuddling with pets
  • 🤪 Taking time off when personal life gets chaotic
  • 🌴 Taking vacation
  • 🎸 Playing music
  • ☕️ Walking to a favourite café
  • 🏋️ Mid-day workouts
  • 🧘‍♀️ Adding focus time to calendars, turning on Do Not Disturb
  • ☀️ Spending time outdoors
  • ⛑ And, as usual, we’re all looking for ways to chip in and help reduce the load of our teammates

We don’t have it completely figured out yet, but we’ll approach this the same way we approach our work — we’ll take incremental steps that are safe to try, and if we keep feeling this tension we’ll adapt and adjust.

What do you do to stay focused and energized at work?


Parabol metrics

User metrics continue their upward trend while web and meeting metrics dip slightly, possibly due to holidays in Canada and USA on Monday. Interestingly, while we see a small dip in weekly Retros, there’s also a small uptick in weekly check-ins and Sprint Poker meetings.

This week we…

Next week we’ll…

  • Conclude Sprint 89
  • Have the design team meet in person for their first design retreat!

Have feedback? See something that you like or something you think could be better? Leave a public response here, or write to us.

Alicia Cressall

Alicia Cressall

Alicia is a designer with a passion for systems design and accessibility. In previous roles, she has enjoyed building user research practices, tackling front-end systems, and mentoring junior designers. Alicia lives and works in Ontario, Canada.

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