How Intelligent Financial Guidance Can Help Beat Burnout

Tom Levinson Life with Money

One of the values that Vic instilled in our PPA team is the importance of reading the news every day. This has become an important part of our respective daily routines – waking up, making a cup of coffee, and browsing a variety of news resources before beginning our workday.
an illustration of hands holding a newspaper, with a pair of glasses on the table nearby
Not too long ago, in the middle of this routine one morning, a New York Times headline popped out:

Jacinda Ardern Says No to Burnout

As you may already know, Ms. Ardern was, until her recent resignation, New Zealand’s Prime Minister. As the article reported, one particular quote from the resignation speech particularly resonated:

“We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.”

Each of us has heard burnout discussed in plenty of circles during our lives, but hearing it discussed so candidly on the world stage seemed monumental. We wanted to learn more.

“Burnout” is defined by the World Health Organization as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The Washington Post traces the term “burnout” to the 1970s, when it started being used to describe the condition of frazzled, discouraged American workers.
an illustration of a burned out female employee asleep with her head on her desk, her laptop still open
Now, new studies are showing how prevalent the burnout crisis is around the world, especially as people continue to feel the ripple effects from the Covid pandemic.

A 2022 study by Microsoft polled 20,000 people in eleven countries and found that almost 50% of employees and 53% of managers said they felt burned out at work.

Another study found that 48% of American small business owners had experienced burnout in the past month, with female business owners (53%) more likely to experience burnout than their male counterparts (41%).

In certain instances, working too much is one culprit. The 40-hour workweek is widely regarded as the standard for full-time employment; however, barely four in ten full-time workers in the U.S. indicate actually working 40 hours, according to a Gallup study. The actual average workweek is closer to 47 hours for hourly workers and 49 hours for salaried employees.

The blurred lines between professional time and personal time, amplified during Covid and the accompanying surge in “24/7, work from anywhere” culture, have also contributed significantly to burnout.
An illustration of a man working on a laptop while sitting under a tree
At a deeper level, a recent newsletter from Anglican priest and New York Times contributing essayist Tish Harrison Warren suggests that loneliness and isolation, especially in a post-pandemic world, may also be a cause of burnout.

Warren writes that what people really need to feel less burned out is connection and conversation with others. “We know that the brain can do a lot of really hard things for a long time, as long as it doesn’t have to do them by itself.”

To grapple with burnout, some people are moving to part-time work. The Wall Street Journal reports that 22.1 million Americans were working part-time voluntarily in January. That’s nearly six times higher than the number of people working part-time but seeking full-time employment.

At the same time, a number of businesses have been testing a four-day workweek and finding highly encouraging results thus far.

Okay, so what does burnout have to do with money? This is a Life with Money article, after all.

Our answer:  the process of developing overall well-being includes a healthy work-life balance. This balance can be bolstered and cultivated by the intelligent use of one’s financial resources.

Here’s another way to think about it.

Many people, as they start saving during the early phase of their professional lives, assume they are saving for a retirement that is decades away. And for some of them, that may be the case.

But many others move on a different timeline.

Burnout is frequently a factor. Others may have an itch to start a new business, while others take time off to care for little kids or aging parents. Still others want to use their money and time to travel or study or just to imagine new possibilities for themselves. Covid and its extended ripples surely have played a role.

In any of those scenarios, it’s important to consider one’s financial obligations and opportunities. Questions inevitably arise. For example:

Is it financially feasible to hit “pause” on a career? Without a regular income from working, how long might one’s money actually last?
an illustration of a couple meeting with a financial advisor about beating burnout; the advisor types on her laptop while the woman takes notes
These are important questions at the intersection of planning one’s financial future and leading a fulfilling life.

Park Piedmont has lots of experience helping clients navigate these types of transitions in a thoughtful and financially intelligent manner:

  • Preparing long-term planning illustrations that show how long money is projected to last using various assumptions
  • Presenting options to maximize long-term retirement saving as a newly independent entrepreneur
  • Tapping existing accounts tax-efficiently to fund ongoing expenses
  • Evaluating the potential gains and drawbacks of new work life arrangements

Our advisory team is well-equipped to help.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to burnout, especially since it is widespread in our country’s work culture.

But if you or someone you know is experiencing some burnout, or just changes in your life goals; or if you’re exploring different ways to spend your time and trying to figure out how possible a shift in work-life balance may be, we’re here to be a resource.

While we don’t have a silver bullet for burnout, we’re happy to play a part in finding ways through it.

Written in collaboration with Kathryn Baranoski.

Read this article in the Piedmont Exedra.