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Montana group offers neuroscience-based approach to curb worker burnout

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Posted at 1:17 PM, Mar 25, 2022

BILLINGS - Worker burnout is a problem that was only heightened during the pandemic.

Billings-based Elation is one company that is tackling that issue head-on, using a neuroscience-based approach to help workers understand how they’re feeling.

RiverStone Health CEO and President John Felton says that public health officials were especially susceptible to burnout.

“As we went through the pandemic, our staff were getting really tired. They worked really hard. They worked a lot of hours,” said Felton.

Felton says that 20% of public health officers in Montana left their jobs during the pandemic, largely because of the way they were being treated.

Many have endured confrontations about mandates, masks and overall COVID-19 care.

This is where Carlos Arce, chief engagement officer of Elation, comes in.

“We asked Carlos to come in and work with our team to really kind of help us understand how we’ve gotten to where we were, how burned out we were,” Felton said.

Elation offers coaching for businesses and employees dealing with burnout, helping them optimize their work performance.

“The idea in our work is to have people deconstruct what’s happening, and we start first by having them understand what optimizes human performance,” Arce said.

Elation does this using applied neuroscience, which means they use brain research to better understand human thought and action.

They help employees and businesses become more self-aware of how they think.

“Lot of times your brain is kind of moving almost unconsciously for you, doing things so you don’t have to think about them too intensely,” said Arce.

Arce says the brain often resorts to automatic thinking, which uses less energy. He helps people turn to reflective thinking, which takes more energy and focus.

“When you start to understand that dichotomy, you can actually structure your day, schedule your interactions in a way that says, hey I’m going to do, maybe I’m best doing that heavy thinking in the morning,” said Arce.

Felton says his team often resorted to automatic thinking during the height of the pandemic.

“We were just constantly reacting and responding to whatever was going on,” Felton said.

Felton says that Elation has given his team the ability to have a more forward-looking, optimistic view of the future. And Elation doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all program for the organizations they serve.

“They really are very individualized and did a lot of work with us to help understand us,” Felton said.