Do you feel “Burnt Out”?  What the year 2020 has been, and for many, there has been a significant lifestyle and workplace change.  You may be now working from home, have restrictions on where you can go, be homeschooling your children or you may have experienced all these changes.

It seems the “goalposts” keep changing as we try and navigate our daily lives, and often it feels there is no end in sight.  All these experiences are resulting in significant increases in stress and also “burnout”.  

So what is “burnout”

 “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

 It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • Reduced professional efficacy.

Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

(The World Health Organisation  – WHO)

Research has identified that over 77% of employees have experienced burnout in their current work and that well-being programs were not addressing the key issues.

Additionally, this research identified that:

  • Employee burnout has no boundaries: 91 percent of respondents say having an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration negatively impacts the quality of their work. 83 percent of respondents say burnout from work can negatively impact their personal relationships.
  • Passion may not prevent workplace stress: 87 percent of professionals surveyed say they have passion for their current job but 64 percent say they are frequently stressed, dispelling the myth that passionate employees are immune to stress or burnout.
  • Many companies may not be doing enough to minimize burnout: Nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization. 21 percent of respondents say their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout.
  • Companies should consider workplace culture, not just well-being programs: One in four professionals say they never or rarely take all of their vacation days. The top driver of burnout cited in the survey is lack of support or recognition from leadership, indicating the important role that leaders play in setting the tone.
  • Burnout affects millennial retention: 84 percent of millennials say they have experienced burnout at their current job, compared to 77 percent of all respondents. Nearly half of millennials say they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out, compared to 42 percent of all respondents.

The above information demonstrates burnout is a real issue for employees and employers as ultimately workers are unable to work at their potential and maximise their overall performance.  In another study of 7500 workers, the issues identified included:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Unmanageable workload
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Lack of communication and support from their manager
  • Unreasonable time pressure

To decrease the impact of burnout, there are several strategies that can be implemented by individuals including:

SELF-CARE

  1. Sleep: Sleep is the foundation of health and performance. It’s imperative to make sure you are getting between 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night.
  2. Exercise: Try to include exercise in your daily routine.  You don’t need to run a marathon, but something is better than nothing.  Just start with walking or any activity you enjoy
  3. Diet: When we have increased stress, our diet often suffers. There are many diets available but try to keep to simple, fresh food and avoid highly processed high sugar products.
  4.  Nature: As much as possible, get outside and enjoy nature. Nature has a positive impact on our stress levels and our overall levels of anxiety.

ORGANISATION-CARE

Employers and organisations must address the issue of workplace stress and burnout.  Implementing the following strategies will make a difference:

  1. Leadership: The most critical enhancement an organisation can make is positive recruitment and development of Leaders. Leaders that are focussed on service, authenticity and being interested in their staff will make all the difference.

Every other strategy will not work unless we have the leadership right. Leaders need to know how to maximise the performance of their staff, and when they can do this, there will be a reduction in burnout.  The problem of workplace stress and burnout is even more significant with the onset of Covid-19, and it is imperative organisations address this issue; otherwise, the health of workers and organisations will suffer.