- Posted by Jon Harju
- On June 6, 2019
Leaders cannot escape the alarm bells and buzz surrounding burnout in the workplace, with many employees today saying they are feeling over-stressed and under-appreciated.
According to a recent study from Gallup, 23% of employees reported feeling burnout at work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling it sometimes. Alarmingly and not surprisingly, burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job.
The burnout blindfold needs to be removed — it’s time for employers to examine when does stress become burnout, how to detect burnout and most importantly, how to prevent it.
When does stress become burnout in the workplace?
A mental health milestone was realized recently when the World Health Organization (WHO), formally recognized burnout as a disease. According to WHO’s entry, burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
For the many people who have experienced burnout, this feels somewhat a relief to hear. The recognition and diagnosis of burnout are vital to our mental health awareness — particularly since burnout can be so negatively impactful on our lives and on those around us.
The WHO outlines burnout is characterized by three key factors:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
- Reduced professional efficacy
Interestingly, these symptoms of burnout have almost become embedded in our modern life work culture, one that applauds and glorifies the ‘hustle and grind’ in over-stressing and overworking.
The bottom line on employee burnout
The consequence of employee burnout on business comes with a hefty cost to companies.
- Burnout costs between $125 billion and $190 billion every year in healthcare spending in the U.S.
- Burnout is responsible for a significant amount of employee turnover, between 20% and 50% or more depending on the organization.
- Burnout often leads to disengaged employees, who cost their employers 34% of their annual salary as a result.
How can employers help manage workplace burnout?
This is the opportunity for great organizations to take the lead on efforts to banish burnout in the workplace by putting in place the right strategies to help manage and value employees’ mental health and wellbeing.
Arianna Huffington wrote in a recent Thrive article “The World Health Organization’s announcement represents a big opportunity for companies committed to fighting burnout within their ranks. If you’re a business leader looking to improve your employees’ health and performance, the World Health Organization just handed you a gift.”
8 workplace strategies to support and prevent your team from burning out.
- Bring in mental health experts to lead educational information sessions for employees about the signs and symptoms of burnout with tips and tools to ensure their mental health is a priority.
- Provide managers with training to lead conversations with their teams about what burnout looks and feels like to people individually. This helps employees identify possible symptoms early on while engaging them in a supportive conversation, minimizing fear and stigma in the workplace.
- Make a vacation the expectation. Support and applaud employees for taking regular vacations and days for much-needed rest or to attend family events.
- Leaders need to walk the talk and demonstrate and share their own self-care strategies for managing a work-life balance, successfully reducing their risk of burnout.
- Require each manager to assess the workload of each of their team members. Flag and create solutions for individuals who are overloaded yet feel pressured to work beyond their contracted hours, or beyond business hours.
- Create formal and informal strategies to recognize employees’ positive impact, value and contributions to the organization.
- Introduce opportunities for staff to take breaks throughout the day by facilitating physical activity — running club, outside walks, yoga class in the boardroom etc.
- Top up your benefit offerings to include additional mental health support and provide employees with the time to access professional mental health support and education.
The ROI of strategies to prevent employee burnout and enhancing employee mental health
Burnout cannot be compared to having a few days off work with stomach flu. It can take time for a person to recover, recuperate and gather the energy and strength to get back to working productively and achieving their tasks.
We know that when employees are healthier and happier, the company’s productivity rises with greater engagement, reduced absenteeism and employee resignations. Employees often demonstrate greater loyalty to the supportive organization, who ‘see’ them and support them as a human being.
Employers have a vital part to play in ensuring that employees’ health does not become compromised in the pursuit of greater company success. Burnout may not be a new phenomenon, but by reframing it as an occupational hazard, we have yet another compelling reason to fly the flag to promote mental health in the workplace. The organizations who recognize and get ahead of the burnout problem will gain an advantage over their competitors who choose to ignore it.
Learn how Snapclarity can help your team build or strengthen their mental health strategy.
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