Health and WellbeingBurnout – an “occupational phenomenon”

Burnout - an "occupational phenomenon"

The workplace has increasingly come under threat from ‘burnout'. Is there enough information out there for workforces to understand the true risks of employee burnout, and how it can be prevented?

The workplace has increasingly come under threat from ‘burnout ’. Is there enough information out there for workforces to understand the true risks, and how it can be prevented?


Research conducted by Perkbox has found that searches for “what is burnout?” increased by 55% on average from 2018 to 2019.

What’s more, The World Health Organisation (WHO) now officially recognises ‘burnout’ as an “occupational phenomenon”. Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. This definition has been modified based on existing research”, said a spokesperson from WHO.

Online searches indicate it’s not only linked to employment, as there were several kinds of burnouts widely searched across the web, such as ‘therapist burnout’, ‘university burnout’, and ‘compassionate burnout’. With such a high number of searches on the internet dedicated to this term, it’s troubling to think that numerous workers may not be aware that they could be struggling with burnout frequently.

“Regardless of what shape or form we want the definition of ‘burnout’ to take – be it as a “medical diagnosis” or just an “occupational phenomenon”, it’s important that we give it the attention it deserves,” said Hannah Sims, Product Manager, Perkbox Medical.

“If your mind is frazzled like it is when you’re experiencing burnout, you’re missing out on opportunities, might not be able to deliver at work, or might not feel like yourself when meeting friends.” Sims continued

“All this impacts your quality of life. You’re not in the state of being happy inside and outside of work regardless of what incentives you’re given. You need separate support to get back to full speed. That’s what I think we should focus on the most when thinking of ‘burnout’ – it’s a serious issue that needs dedicated attention”

Although ‘burnout’ is not yet recognised as a global medical condition, the WHO recently announced plans to ensure this is identified as a mental health issue by 2020, defining it as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

“It’s not acceptable to deal with workplace stress as if it were a minor downside of a demanding job or a mere excuse for “mental health time off”,said Guy Chiswick, Managing Director, UK & Ireland Speakap.

“Instead, businesses should actively be thinking about how they ensure employees have the power to switch-off and decompress.”

“Part of this comes down to how the communication channels that employees are contacted through are managed.”

Why is burnout a common issue in the workplace and what can HR professionals do to combat it?

“In particular I’d encourage HR to pay special attention to their frontline workershose main interaction with their colleagues and managers is via their smartphone.” said Guy.

“Many of these ‘deskless’ workers work long and tiring hours, dealing with customers in stores and restaurants, or constantly on their feet in hospitals or working as cleaners.”

“Through consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp, they’re typically bombarded with work-related messages on their personal phone at all hours – whether they are at work or not.”

“It’s one of the main reasons we introduced a dedicated platform for workplace communications, as well as a do not disturb feature that puts the individual in control of when they receive work-based communications.”

Being conscious of your workforce as well as having a wellbeing strategy in place could be crucial in reducing ‘burnout’. AXA PP healthcare found that 82% of SME business leaders don’t have a health and wellbeing strategy in place, as many companies fail to make this a priority.

If companies fail to implement this structure, it could not only increase the possibility of whole workforces suffering from this chronic stress, but could also limit their employees’ knowledge of health and wellbeing.

“Burnout is now recognised by the World Health Organisation as an occupational phenomenon. It’s becoming a workplace epidemic that poses significant risks for small businesses. “said Tracy Garrad, CEO, AXA PP Healthcare.

“While it’s encouraging that 41% of small business leaders polled said they’d like to have a health and wellbeing strategy, more needs to be done to move the dial and more needs to be done to change perceptions and convince larger organisations of the importance of health and wellbeing measures.”

The reality is that small businesses make up more than half the UK’s total workforce and their employees are crying out for greater support. To reduce burnout, businesses both large and small must prioritise their wellbeing strategies by investing resources and time to further improve workforce mental health. If not, then we could continue to see a rise in burnout in businesses across the country.

 

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