Running on empty | Insight Insider | insightonbusiness.com
For Kristina Spang, the disappearance of jokes was the first sign.
Spang, who serves as vice president of aftermarket product and support at Pierce Manufacturing, is known for her jokes and sense of humor at work, but putting in long hours at a fast-paced job while caring for her aging father left her with little energy for anything else.
When her team members started commenting that they missed her workplace humor, Spang got the wakeup call she needed.
“It was like they were saying, in a good way, that I have a problem,” says Spang, who shared her experience during a panel discussion at last month’s Women’s Leadership Conference in Green Bay.
Unfortunately, Spang is hardly alone in her experience. Nearly half of female leaders in Northeast Wisconsin report feeling burned out, says a new survey from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL).
“The report underscored the extent to which women were exhausted to the point of stepping out of their careers. That’s significant when we think of the challenges we face from a talent perspective,” says Janet Bonkowski, IWL’s executive director. “[Employers] will lose access to a talent pool at a time when they can’t afford to.”
These days Spang is back to her jovial self, but it took a renewed commitment to intentional well-being that required buy-in from herself, her family and her employer.
“Even if you fall out of your ‘funk,’ you can get back into it,” she says, “but it’s being very deliberate with your plans and sharing them with others to hold yourself accountable.”
Leaning in, leaning out
If you want to see just how deeply the theme of burnout resonates, try attending a presentation on the topic at a professional women’s conference.
At the 2022 Women’s Leadership Conference, presented by New Sage Strategies, it was standing room only for the session led by Colleen Hauk, CEO of The Corporate Refinery, a California-based consulting and training firm. Hauk shared her own experience as a corporate executive struggling with burnout and how she successfully created a more balanced personal and professional life.
“I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad thing that so many of you want to be in this session,” Hauk joked as KI Convention Center staff rolled stacks of extra chairs into the conference room.
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