Job Burnout? It’s Time to Embrace Gen Z
Post COVID, our practice experienced a period of high turnover due to the uncertainty of the virus, unemployment paying more than the hourly rate, and dental burnout, among other factors. I call this PVT (post-virus trauma). Other than governmental views or COVID scares, many of my employees were going through extreme life-changing experiences. I saw my team adjusting to job placements, new marriages, failing marriages, babies on the way, uprooting their lives, moving away, etc. No one had it easy during this time.
I felt like I was treading water in the unknown, trying to get ahead of the game. No matter how hard I would tread, I would get nowhere. I had never felt such complete tiredness before, and I didn’t believe that the world would ever return to normal as it had been before COVID.
A few months back, I was having dinner with a friend I had not seen in more than two years. With COVID and long distance, we could only see each other’s lives through social media posts. It was an understatement to say that it was nice to see her finally, let our kiddos hang out, and catch up on changes we’ve gone through in the last two years. While eating dinner, my friend expressed to me:
“I’m burnt out! I’ve wanted to be a teacher my whole life. Here I am. But now what? I have nothing to satisfy my will and further my career. I feel stuck! If I moved, I would lose so much money and status that I fought so hard to get. I would be starting over again.”
These words were all too familiar. I had said these same words to my husband just days before. What else would I do? It’s what I went to school for and thought I had wanted to do my whole life. Now what? Where’s the satisfaction guarantee? Is this it? Is this all there is in life?
It has been more than a decade since I graduated from college. I’ve had the same job and the same career throughout this time. I have won awards, built up a status, received job promotions, built a great staff, and what do I have to show for it now? This person I had always dreamed of being has turned into a washed-up, overweight, unhappy mom who genuinely believes she can’t find her purpose anymore. It felt like this PVT had depleted me of the last living will in my body to get up and repeat the same brutal role daily.
Society has convinced us that we must fulfill this illusion of the “perfect life.” We MUST graduate from a university, get a job immediately, work hard, be in good standing, obtain a high status, receive high pay, start a family, and be the perfect wife/mom/career woman. Following each step perfectly, never missing a beat.
I followed the rules; I did everything by the book. But now what? This play-by-play book on achieving the “perfect life” must have forgotten the chapter on how to stay afloat amid a global pandemic. I was drowning in my thoughts, “Is this really it for the rest of my life? Has this become my new normal? What do I do now?”
The reoccurring question of “What’s next for me” never goes away. No matter who you are or your journey, this question will follow you too. The answer will certainly look different for each person. I am here to share a few suggestions that I found helpful in reclaiming my joy for my work in this post-COVID world.
Embrace the younger generation.
Yes, we should embrace their hip new sayings that make absolutely no sense (to you). Embrace their eagerness to learn. Embrace them and all of their greatness!
Embrace their education.
Do you have a friend who decided to go back to school to finish their degree finally? Give them the support and encouragement they need. We don’t do that enough! Your words might be just the inspiration they need to complete something they see as impossible. Hype up the people around you! Trust me; they need it.
Encourage your younger counterparts to further their education, be there for them through life lessons, and motivate them. Am I saying to eclipse me? Yes, without a doubt! Because at the end of the day, I contributed to the betterment of my peers, bridged a gap, and shared my knowledge generously.
Embrace their skills.
Find out what they are good at and look for opportunities to utilize their gifts. Ask yourself if they are in the right position for the right job. Identify experts (leads) and help delegate tasks at which this person can succeed. You don’t want to set anyone up for failure as a leader. If you have someone well educated that can explain an implant process like the back of their hand, you need this person over your implant procedures. If you have someone quiet but well organized, this isn’t your implant salesperson, but maybe they are the person you need to be in charge of ordering supplies. If you have someone in the office with the “gift of gab” and a people pleaser, they may be the right person to help when front desk conflicts arrive. They can help address the patient’s concerns over the phone before anything escalates in the office.
As a leader, we are pulled in many directions, and the stress of it can easily cause burnout in our position. Embracing your team’s skills will allow you to take a deep breath so you don’t feel like you are drowning. Taking time to know your employees and providing leadership opportunities will keep them engaged and feeling appreciated.
Embrace their success.
My last advice, but not any less important, is to help the younger generation find their passion and succeed in living it out. It’s not a competition. It’s not about job security. Let me put this simply: if I am teaching you to do your job and you have mastered and become the best employee months down the road, it makes me the best at my job! Your work doesn’t succeed by what you do; your work succeeds by those you empower.
Through my post-virus trauma (PVT,) I have re-evaluated my life at home, become a more supportive friend, and found a deeper and more meaningful purpose in my job by embracing this younger generation.
When I first started in the dental field, I had very few mentors show me the ropes or have faith in me because they feared losing their job security. By embracing the younger generation, I can help them learn to be their best through their education, sharpening their skill set, and being a cheerleader to their success. Seeing the success in others has brought a more substantial value and purpose to my life.
About the Author
Jenny Brown, MAADOM received her bachelor of science in public health from East Tennessee State University in 2019. She began working with East Brainerd Oral Surgery in Chattanooga shortly after graduation. Today, Jenny manages two offices and 25 employees. She is the founding president of the Tennessee Valley AADOM Chapter and earned her AADOM Mastership (MAADOM) designation in 2020. Jenny is a member of the ADAA, TDAA, and several other professional organizations. During her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, blogging, traveling, and spending time with her family.