Burnout climbs its way to boards

Board members are a professional group less often linked to the chronic exhaustion and emotional fatigue of burnout. But governing bodies are now increasingly feeling the strain, Fortune reports. 

Board members are noting longer meetings, more rigorous prep work, and more frequent calls between meetings, according to Fortune, which spoke with a Korn Ferry partner who is hearing talk of board-level exhaustion "everywhere." 

One contributing factor to boards' burnout is C-level turnover. As CEOs and C-suite leaders exit organizations, boards are forced to step up and take on a wider range of issues, Fortune reports. In healthcare, CEO changes have ticked upward. U.S. hospitals saw 126 CEO exits through the first 10 months of the year, a 62 percent increase from the same time period in 2022. 

Increased rigor that board members now face in their responsibilities could also signal a change is due in how professionals think about board service. 

The founder and CEO of a membership organization for executive women told Fortune that the traditional model of boards being a "last hurrah" before an executive's retirement is not fit for the current demands and changes, such as the addition of more board members or limiting the number of board seats that someone can hold, may be needed.

Experts told Fortune that board leaders ought to check in with individual members to clarify the workload of serving on the body and acknowledge how the job has changed. This may be particularly crucial in healthcare, where fewer than 15% of board members overseeing the nation's top hospitals have a professional background in the industry. 

Before the growing issue of burnout, boards have long grappled with passive and disengaged members. Here are 10 signs of a board member who is effectively governing and adding value. 

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