Arianna Huffington Addresses Business Leaders on Changing the Narrative Around Burnout

Burnout isn’t a badge of honor — it’s a sign that serious changes are in order.

Thrive Global Founder and CEO Arianna Huffington spoke in Washington D.C. Wednesday at the Health Means Business National Summit, the culmination of a two year collaboration between the Chamber of Commerce and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on pivoting the United States to a more health-focused culture.

Speakers ranging from Dr. Viveth H. Murthy, the U.S Surgeon General, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of KIND, touched on the importance of bringing this idea to the forefront.

In her address, Arianna spoke about the profound shift that’s happening in how we view the intersection between our work and personal lives.

“It’s time to end the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must all pay for success,” Arianna said. She shared her personal experience with burnout in 2007 when she collapsed from exhaustion in her office. “Now I’m deeply grateful for because it started my journey of studying all the science,” she said. “We claim to be a data driven society but we’re ignoring the data. The science is unequivocal.”

Seventy-five percent of healthcare problems in the U.S are caused by stress-related and preventable chronic diseases, Arianna said. It’s a result of a culture that doesn’t prioritize well being. When it comes to the effect on business, the numbers are staggering. Stress and burnout cost the U.S economy $300 billion a year, while disengagement among employees is estimated to cost $450 billion a year.

Arianna emphasized that well-rested workers are also more productive, creative, and resilient. That resiliency factor could have huge implications in our lives outside of work. Calling the resiliency we build from being well-rested our “internal infrastructure,” Arianna said that “there is extreme weather coming and that requires strengthening our own internal infrastructure and reconnecting with our own wisdom, peace and inner strength.” That’s hard to do when you’re running on empty.

Taking society from a place of work now, sleep later to one that emphasizes the importance of well-being is a challenge, but one that Arianna firmly believes that Thrive Global and other businesses and their leaders are more than up for. “I profoundly believe the people in this room have the power to accelerate the culture shift,” Arianna said.

Read more about the summit here.