Should one consider changing the job function to fight burnout?

Burnout at work can take different forms

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In the initial phase of his career, Rajeev was fortunate enough to join a media firm that was on a growth trajectory. Given his capability and hard work, he did very well in every project that came his way, developing each one single-handedly and ensuring success. He managed to win his CEO’s trust and was inundated with projects. In a span of about 14 years, Rajeev was able to build many new intellectual properties for the company and develop new revenue pipelines. With time, he became the head of digital and strategic alliances at the firm with several people working under him.

However, after spending so many years, Rajeev realised that the company was on an autopilot mode, in terms of driving revenue from new projects. While it was true that the Company was definitely doing well, Rajeev felt burnt out. His role ceased to interest him, as no more challenges came his way to relieve him of his boredom. He decided to quit. Many senior professionals today undergo a similar experience.

Burnout at work can happen in different ways or take different forms. Sometimes, the work is so overwhelming that the professional experiences a burnout. At other times, lack of challenges or the monotony of the work causes acute boredom, which is also a form of burnout. When work becomes dull, repetitive and uninteresting, people begin to consider a switch, but what happens if they do not find another job? Should they try a different role within the same company?

“If one is just looking for a stop-gap arrangement, then I would say that changing one’s domain will not help”

Uma Rao, CHRO, Granules India

While nobody would reject the idea, its success depends on a lot of factors. For one, the culture of the company is rather significant here. For instance, Supratik Bhattacharya, chief talent officer, RPG Group, shares that RPG’s culture and general mindset focus on the holistic development of its people. All the businesses of the Group — CEAT tyres, Zensar, KEC International, RPG Life Sciences and more —work in different domains, from manufacturing and pharma, to IT and tech services.

The Company believes in moving around its talent in different businesses, which helps build talent from within and also allows the employees to break monotony. For instance, Bhattacharya himself has witnessed people moving from an HR to a business-development role at RPG. In fact, he himself was never in an HR role before he assumed his position as the chief talent officer!

“I believe that every person should look beyond and try to rotate in different management roles,” says Bhattacharya.

Moving around in different functions not only helps professionals’ holistic development but also makes them better generalists. However, the choice has to be made by the individual. Those who wish to be specialists in a single domain will not benefit by changing their career trajectory.

Where does the problem lie?

First and foremost, it is important to understand why the person is looking to switch in the first place. How did the monotony set into the role? Did the problem lie in the culture?

“I believe that every person should look beyond and try to rotate in different management roles”

Supratik Bhattacharya, chief talent officer, RPG Group

As per Uma Rao, CHRO, Granules India, people looking for a switch are not actually looking to change their domain. They are most likely looking for a change in the same domain. Therefore, they should first analyse whether staying back in the same company but in a different role would really make a difference to them and only then decide to take that step. “If one is just looking for a stop-gap arrangement, then I would say that changing one’s domain will not help. It is better to keep looking outside for a new opportunity,” says Rao.

If people do not see any problem with the company’s culture, then they can consider talking to their managers and have a serious career discussion.

In fact, the HR leaders HRKatha spoke with had a very positive outlook towards companies optimising their internal talent market and moving around people in different roles.

“With attrition being a challenge for most companies today, progressive firms are very much open to moving around people in different roles,” says Manoj Kumar Sharma, CHRO, Aarti Industries.

Creating the right environment that allows people to move around in the organisation in different functions can be a challenge. “It is essential to create the right culture and environment that facilitate internal mobility and smooth transition of people,” shares Bhattacharya.

In the absence of such an enabling and conducive culture, it is better to move out of the company when the time comes.

It is quite easy for people in general management roles to move around in different functions, but not so much for specialists. Those in specialist roles, such as scientists who are part of the R&D team, do not have the luxury of moving around in different functions.

As per HR experts, the art of managing specialists is a little different from managing people in general management roles. “In India, the skill of managing specialists has not evolved much yet,” reveals Sharma. He goes on to explain that “specialists are domain experts, with expertise in a specific area. They have developed in that domain by virtue of interest”.

“With attrition being a challenge for most companies today, progressive firms are very much open to moving around people in different roles”

Manoj Kumar Sharma, CHRO, Aarti Industries

Such people should look to expand their knowledge and use the learning resources available within the organisation, which can benefit them.

Working in cross-functional teams also helps. “Specialists can look to work in cross-functional projects that are aimed at solving larger business problems,” suggests Rao.

“In most cases, specialists are paid handsomely for their work. It is a career path that they have chosen for themselves, and therefore, if the organisation keeps investing in their career, the chances of them sticking around longer are more,” explains Sharma.

Clearly, it in the absence of the appropriate culture, moving into a different role in the same company may not really help. However, if the culture is good and if one can afford to stay in the company and continue, then there is no harm in changing one’s function.

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