Burnout is coming to get us — and WHO has taken note

THE WORLD Health Organisation has officially recognised burnout as a major health risk, and not a moment too soon for some stressed workers.

While furloughed or sacked staff have it worse, those carrying on remotely are feeling the weight of working from home, or as someone recently put it, living at work.

A recent Gallup poll found that 76 percent of employees experience burnout on the job — 28 percent of them “very often” or “always”. Another survey revealed that 41 percent of companies don’t address burnout, and 36 percent of staff canvassed had no idea whether their company had any kind of support programme in place.

Some common burnout symptoms to look out for include staff becoming easily angered or upset, lacking concentration, being overly critical or cynical, and being tired.

Employee benefits firm Sodexo Engage has pulled together five main factors that contribute to the problem.

  1. Unfair treatment at work

It is important to create a workplace culture where staff are encouraged to ask for help. Healthy habits must be set in place and regular “check-in” meetings should be diarised. This presents staff with a platform to address any issues or concerns about mistreatment. It’s not about the number of hours worked, it’s about how people are treated in those hours.

  1. Unmanageable workload

It’s a misconception that to solve burnout, employees simply need to be encouraged to work fewer hours. Access to software and equipment may hinder their ability to produce work on time. Employers can solve this by ensuring the team has the resources needed to deliver work without becoming frustrated with processes, lack of training or technology. Employers can proactively prevent burnout at the same time and reduce risk of mistakes.

  1. Unclear communication from managers

Consistent and clear communication from managers is vital. Keep staff in the loop about company direction, hold frequent catch-up meetings and offer support and information about how the business is adapting to the government advice.

  1. Lack of manager support

Managers are responsible for keeping tabs on the wellbeing of staff. They should guide staff to support programmes and any make clear any benefits or company initiatives that exist. By having an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in place, employees can reach out for professional support for physical, mental and financial health, as well as relationship worries. An EAP can offer external support and advice where HR may not be able to assist.

  1. Unreasonable time pressure

Working around the clock to get work finished is something that must be addressed. Staff probably feel as though they’re drowning under a mountain of work but don’t feel entitled to ask for help. When this goes unnoticed, burnout follows. Make it clear that employees can speak out if they feel they have too much on, or need extra support.