How real is employee burnout?
The charity Mental Health UK defines ‘burnout’ as “a state of physical and emotional exhaustion which can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.”
According to a study conducted by AXA UK and the Centre for Business and Economic Research (Cebr), UK businesses incurred an astonishing £28 billion in expenses last year due to workplace stress and burnout. In one study, it was found that almost half (46%) of the participants reported experiencing emotions of being overwhelmed and uncertain about their future, with the cost-of-living crisis in the UK intensifying this problem. This is supported by Google search data showing that the number of searches for ‘signs of burnout’ has increased by an average of 41% year-on-year since 2017. As a result, financial stress and concerns among employees are causing UK businesses to lose up to £6.2 billion in sick days and decreased productivity, according to a CEBR report.
Recognised as it may be, few are equipped to appropriately manage burnout when it arises, meaning many public and not-for-profit organisations are facing something of a mental wellbeing crisis that’s set to have a significant knock-on effect on culture, retention and overall performance.
What are the warning signs that your employees are facing burnout?
Burnout usually manifests (on an individual or group level) as reduced productivity, an increase in general negativity and in the number of sick days taken. At a higher level it will also be reflected in increased staff turnover.
What are the impacts of burnout on organisations?
Companies who do not address these challenges are at risk of losing their best talent and may struggle to attract other candidates. For example, employees who are experiencing burnout are at a higher risk of taking sick leave or seeking alternative employment, leading to increased employee turnover and additional expenses such as lost revenue or hiring and training.
Furthermore, these employees may be valuable team members who cannot be easily replaced, or they could hold managerial positions responsible for overseeing entire teams, meaning their burnout could impact multiple levels of the organisation.
How can you prevent staff burnout?
Here are 10 ways you can protect your employees from burnout:
- Lead by example: The leadership team needs role models who normalise prioritising their own mental wellbeing. Being candid about the reasons for being unavailable at a given time when they may need to regroup or recharge, creates a safe space for employees to follow suit.
- Maintain close relationships with your employees: Communication can help prevent those initial feelings of pressure, anxiety or demotivation from becoming mental health problems such as burnout. The sooner a manager is aware of a problem through regular 1-2-1s, the sooner they can act.
- Consider mental health first aid training: Having dedicated mental health ‘first aiders’ within your organisation can help to equip managers with the tools to spot the signs or triggers of burnout and put preventative measures in place.
- Ringfence recovery time: Consider introducing policies such as turning off email servers outside of working hours, or agreeing not to book meetings between 12pm and 2pm to help safeguard valuable recovery time.
- Promote the use of annual leave: Encourage employees to take all their annual leave allowance each year and have regular time off. A refreshed workforce fosters a healthier work environment.
- Encourage regular exercise: Even a brisk 10-minute walk can have a real impact on mood and motivation. Getting away from your desk to exercise in the fresh air has a direct link to increased productivity.
- Encourage quitting unhealthy habits: Poor diet, smoking and excessive drinking all have a major impact on stress levels. In fact, a recent study found that quitting smoking made immediate positive improvements to mental health after four weeks.
- Promote time away from desks: A five-minute desk break every hour can reduce the risk of injury, refocus the mind and break the monotony of both home and office working.
- Promote mental health days: Fostering a workplace culture where people don’t feel guilty for occasionally asking for a mental health day will help alleviate longer-term stress and ensure employees feel supported.
- Set up routine catch-ups with the team: With a large number of employees now working from home, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open to maintain the social element of being at work. This reduces the feeling of isolation and has a positive impact on well-being.
In building a happy, healthy and productive workforce, consider the ways that your operations will need to change as restrictions ease, ensuring that employee wellbeing is at the forefront of these conversations.
How can Morgan Law help you with your recruitment and retention strategy?
In today’s volatile economic climate, leaders need to find the right recruiting partner to navigate potential staff shortages.
At Morgan Law, our team of experienced consultants are well-versed in helping public-sector and not-for-profit organisations create bespoke recruitment strategies and improve their existing practices to ensure they can access the talent they need, when they need it. Specialists in their field, they are committed to delivering high levels of service, and acting with honesty and integrity throughout the process.
Get in touch with one of our specialists to find out how we could help you.