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The five factors of burnout employers need to know

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Shot of a young woman suffering from stress while using a computer at her work desk
Some 41% of employees claim their companies do not address burnout. Photo: Getty

More than three quarters (76%) of employees experience burnout at work, according to a report by analytics and advisory company Gallup.

Over a quarter (28%) said they are burned out “very often” or “always” at work, the report found.

The World Health Organisation has officially recognised burnout as a major health risk, calling it an “occupational phenomenon.”

However, 41% of employees claim their companies do not address burnout and over a third (36%) do not even know whether their company has a programme to support workers suffering from burnout, according to a separate survey by Clockify.

As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on work, life and staff mental health has come to the fore for employers across the UK, employee benefits specialists Sodexo Engage have outlined what businesses need to know about burnout.

Jamie Mackenzie, director at Sodexo Engage, said: “During times of change and uncertainty it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and let anxieties takeover completely.

READ MORE: Fifth of businesses failing to offer drug and alcohol support to employees

“Employers have little control on the current crisis, but they do have control over how their business weathers the storm, and that includes how it helps and supports its staff.

“If staff feel like they are getting the support they need from their employer, they will feel happier and more engaged, especially right now when the working environment is so different and it can be so easy to feel isolated.”

Here is Sodexo Engage’s advice:

Unfair treatment at work

No employer wants to believe their staff are being mistreated, but it is important to create a workplace culture where staff are encouraged to ask for help if it is the case.

It’s a good idea to have regular meetings to check in with employees and present them with a platform to address any potential mistreatment within the company.

Employers should show staff that they care for their wellbeing and create a safe space for any issues to be raised.

Unmanageable workload

It’s a common misconception that in order to solve burnout employees simply need to be encouraged to work less hours, but this is not always the case.

READ MORE: Injury and illness from work twice as high for lower-earning workers

Ensuring staff have the resources needed to deliver their work without becoming frustrated with processes, lack of training or technology can make a big difference.

Employers can proactively prevent burnout by making sure staff have access to the software and equipment they need to get their job done quickly and effectively, whilst also reducing the risk of mistakes as employees find themselves more engaged in work.

Unclear communication from managers

"The Shard" is seen at dusk in central London January 2, 2012. The building, due to be completed later this year, will be the tallest building in the European Union. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: CITYSPACE BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION)
Managers need to ensure communication is clear and consistent, according to new advice. Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Consistent and clear communication from managers is vital, especially during times of uncertainty such as the current coronavirus crisis.

Ways to reduce unnecessary anxiety and stress include keeping workers updated about the direction the company is taking, what the business is doing to support employees, and how it is adapting to the latest government advice.

READ MORE: Bosses tell female employees to be ‘sexier’ for work video meetings

Arranging frequent catch up meetings, ideally ‘face-to-face’ through video calling for a more personal interaction, is also essential to keep employees in the know.

Lack of manager support

Managers are responsible for checking up on staff wellbeing and ensuring they have regular opportunities to voice concerns, whether they’re work-related or not.

Managers should be able to identify the signs of an employee on their way to burning out, and help prevent them reaching that point.

They should be there to guide employees in the direction of support programmes and any benefits or company initiatives that might not have been made clear previously.

Having an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) allows staff to access assistance with personal and work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional wellbeing. Employees can reach out for professional support for issues including physical, mental and financial health and any relationship worries — an EAP can offer external support and advice where HR may not be able to assist.

Unreasonable time pressure

If an employee is working around the clock to get work finished, they may be feeling as though they’re drowning under a mountain of work but aren’t confident enough to ask for help.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Staff mental health and wellbeing main challenge for employers

When this goes unnoticed, a chain reaction of things happen, inevitably leading to burnout.

Employers should make it clear that employees can flag if they feel they have too much on or need extra support.

Anxieties over workload could be tackled by helping employees spread out their workload, delegating work more evenly and re-evaluating workers’ commitments.

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