Physical and mental exhaustion, cynicism, a lack of motivation, trouble sleeping, short-temperedness, depression. They’re all symptoms of burn-out and, unsurprisingly, they often effect staff with the most stressful jobs.
It’s unusual for a CEO or other high-profile executive to cite stress for leaving a job, though it doesn’t mean it’s not a big contributor. “Family reasons” appears to be the explanation of choice for unmotivated leaders and every now and then you do find one that admits their health is suffering. In 2011, Lloyds Banking Group CEO Antonio Horta Osorio took two months’ leave after suffering from “fatigue”. He remains CEO of the bank today.
The cost to companies of losing their best staff can be profound, particularly if they’re a top-performing CEO that’s helped add billions to their market value. That’s why Johnson & Johnson has this week launched an anti-burnout program for senior executives, according to Bloomberg.
The cost of the program is $100,000 per head, indicating it’s directed at the most senior of staff members. Johnson & Johnson apparently tested it on seven of its own executives, though it hasn’t said if CEO Alex Gorsky was involved, citing privacy reasons.
“Leaders aren’t a set of skills and tools,” the program’s developer, LowinnKibbey, told Bloomberg. “Many of these leaders arrive in these roles without being equipped with how to stay healthy and resilient.”
The program involves surrounding subjects with experts including doctors, dietitians, psychologists and executive coaches. After going through a series of medical tests at the Mayo Clinic, they are monitored for the next nine months and provided with tips from experts on how to stay in peak condition.
Executive coaching is nothing new and studies show that it appears to work. Research conducted in 2009 by academics at the University of Amsterdam, for instance, found that it had significant positive effects on performance and skills, well-being, coping and work attitudes.
Johnson & Johnson said it’s program is different because of its sophistication and “holistic” approach.