With a whopping 46% of UK workers feeling more prone to extreme stress compared with March 2020, it’s no wonder we’re seeing the term ‘burnout’ used more frequently at the moment, especially in relation to the workplace. But what exactly is this ‘occupational phenomenon’, and how can we as employers and employees deal with it?
According to Mental Health UK, the most commonly reported signs of burnout include feelings of being overwhelmed, trapped, cynical, and full of self-doubt, all of which build up during periods of prolonged stress and leave us physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted – or, quite simply, ‘burnt out’. Although the World Health Organisation specifically refers to burnout in the context of the workplace, it’s important to recognize that burnout doesn’t happen in a work bubble; these feelings often spill over into our home lives, and can also be influenced by personal pressures as well.
So, how do we tackle this slow-growing, all-consuming beast once it attacks and, perhaps more importantly, how can we stop it from taking hold in the first place?
The first key step in both prevention and recovery of burnout is identifying the factors which are contributing, or could contribute, to an individual’s stress levels increasing in the short and long term. Each person will, of course, deal with stressors differently, but the below examples are reported most commonly so are a good place to start:
- Relationship Changes: break-ups, new babies, different co-working dynamics and family developments are all part and parcel of life, but too many (or perhaps not enough) of these changes can trigger feelings of loneliness, confusion, or detachment for some, and this in turn can add to pre-existing stress levels and lead to burnout without a stable support system to combat it.
- Money Woes: we’ve all had them at some point, but the pressures caused by uncertainty regarding furlough and job security, increased bills, time off sick and existing debts, can mount up quickly, which is why a staggering 81% of people identify money troubles as a large factor.
- Physical Health: with NHS waitlists becoming longer and longer and common ailments such as headaches, colds and musculoskeletal problems impacting most of us at some point in our lives, it’s not surprising we worried about our physical wellbeing. It’s a vicious circle for some; the more we stress, the more run down we feel, and the more run down we are, the easier it is for stress to take hold.
- Pressures at Work: almost every industry has been impacted by the pandemic, leading to a lot of upheaval when it comes to working environments, staffing levels and job security (just to name a few). A lot of employees may feel increased pressure to perform perfectly or work more (unpaid) hours as a result, while at the same time suffering from decreases in motivation and job satisfaction, working in a different space, and feeling a general lack of recognition from their employers, whose priorities may seem to lie elsewhere.
It is often a combination of the above factors which can make burnout feel almost inevitable for some, and that is why it’s more important than ever to open a channel of communication between employees and their employers, allowing these issues to be spotted and dealt with in a safe space as soon as possible.
Our experienced team here at Employees Health are experts in bridging the void between staff and management, enabling us to help employees thrive and keep businesses alive through a variety of different tools, seminars, and programs which we have specifically developed to promote well-being and decrease stress in the workplace. We will tailor our solutions to suit your business’s needs and can even offer ongoing support for your workforce to help your employees adapt to any future changes or stressors both at home and at work, thus reducing their chances of burnout and improving their mental health on the whole.
If you’ve spotted any of the signs of burnout in yourself or your employees and want some advice on how to get off that slippery slope before it’s too late, get in touch with our team today and we will be happy to help!