Episode 103: Cults, Corporates, and Breaking the Burnout Cycle

Ever felt your workplace is overly dogmatic about behavior and tasks? Or maybe you think burnout is just an individual failing? Petra Velzeboer, a psychotherapist, CEO, and author of "Begin With You," who was born into a notorious cult, brings clarity to the gray areas of workplace dynamics, exploring the fine line between a demanding job and a toxic work culture.

This episode examines both organizational and individual sources of workplace toxicity. It includes discussions on hard-hitting topics such as the role of leadership in employee burnout, the importance of setting explicit boundaries in hybrid work environments, and the need for open dialogues about mental health to prevent larger issues down the line. This episode is not just a discussion but a call to action, offering practical steps for individual and organizational change.

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Episode Highlights

  • The uncanny similarities between cult dynamics and toxic workplace cultures.
  • The role of leadership in either preventing or fueling employee burnout.
  • Exploring the complexities of "burnout" beyond just workload, including its ties to personal history and societal norms.
  • Unpacking the psychological toll of conforming to toxic workplace cultures, and how to break free.
  • Why focusing solely on mental health symptoms is a missed opportunity, and what conversations we should be having instead.
  • The nuanced approach to setting boundaries in a world increasingly blending work and home.
  • What it really means to be "fully present" for your colleagues, and why it's more critical than ever.
  • Tips for fostering mental well-being in hybrid and remote work environments, and why it's not just an HR issue.
  • How a leader's openness about personal struggles can pave the way for a more supportive work environment.
  • The hidden pitfalls of following society's blueprint for success, and what you could consider doing differently.

Petra's view on the greatest unmet wellbeing need at work today

"True belonging. I think that might just cover it. It's that feeling of, "I'm part of something and this matters like and feeling seen, heard and valued" to use Brene Brown's terminology. That's what people are missing."


“It means so many things, but for me, it's its connection and empathy. And it's knowing that if someone's not their best selves, it's not judging them or talking about them behind their back. It's thinking, 'I wonder what kind of day they're having.' And having this thread of, 'I wonder what they're going through that may be impacting their behavior in this place.' When we can ask that question, we can connect and have empathy, and it's just a better place to work and be.”


Follow: Petra on LinkedIn
Visit: PVL website
Read: Begin With You: Invest in Your Mental Well-being and Satisfaction at Work

Michael Glazer is the creator and host of Humans At Work. His purpose in life is to make well-being at work a globally-accepted, basic human right. Learn more about Michael here.