HomeEmployee ExperienceHR StrategyPromoting ‘self-care’ won’t cure burnout

Promoting ‘self-care’ won’t cure burnout

  • 4 Min Read

Encouraging employees to take a break isn’t enough to prevent burnout The most effective ‘perks’ to help support mental health in the workplace are the compulsory collective ones.

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Julia Green
Head of Corporate Events at Center Parcs Conferences & Events

When it comes to burnout, it’s time we questioned the efficacy of trying to resolve what can often be a widespread internal issue by encouraging employees to ‘self-care’. Reminding staff to take breaks from their screens and take regular annual leave is important, but its effectiveness is equally dependent on individual implementation – and ultimately, does not attack the root cause of rising workplace stress.

In equal measure, offering staff perks like wellness vouchers or subscriptions to wellness apps is a nice touch, but puts the onus on the employee to look after their own wellbeing. Yet, employers do have some duty of care to look after staff needs.

The harsh reality is that the employees who would most benefit from attending the office-based yoga class or meditation session, are so often the self-same ones who struggle to find the time or headspace to take advantage of these workplace perks. Burnout can be a true catch-22 issue.

Making time to look after mental health and fitness can be challenging at the best of times, but we know that employees suffering from burnout find it particularly difficult to break free from an endless cycle of emails and switch off.

I can already hear the nay-sayers – and I can’t deny that their counterargument is valid. We are all adults, and in an ideal world – we would all be happy, healthy and able to look after ourselves.

But against a backdrop of record long-term sickness levels, research from Mental Health UK finds that a fifth of Brits have suffered with burnout with one in five taking time off work due to workplace stress, so this is an issue that businesses cannot afford to ignore.

Rather than attempting quick fix, tick box solutions, businesses who are genuinely driven to break this vicious cycle are those who recognise that it can be addressed as a collective problem. After all, no employee is an island.

Like it or not, the most effective ‘perks’ to help support mental health in the workplace are the compulsory collective ones. Incentive trips and company-wide team building activities are a practical alternative for businesses seeking to ensure employees who are struggling to look after themselves are being well-looked after. It also provides a great platform for any employees suffering in silence, who will be less likely to feel singled out by a collective initiative. Crucially, if done regularly, away-days act as a preventative remedy, staving off burnout before it makes an appearance.

And thankfully, we’re seeing a huge increase in companies recognising the benefits of taking the team away for a ‘gratitude getaway’ – rewarding staff for hard work with a restorative break. The employee benefits provider YuLife host an annual ‘Festival of Yu’ – a great example of corporate retreats done right – bringing together its remote-first employees for an overnight escape from the humdrum of office life to nurture corporate wellbeing and connect with nature.

What’s more, businesses are increasingly opting to weave down-time for employees into their event itineraries, so that staff come away not only with a renewed sense of belonging to the company and strengthened workplace relations, but also feeling refreshed and rejuvenated – ready to tackle another work week. When planning their corporate ‘digital retreat’, gaming companies Space Ape Games and FuturLab expressly told us they wanted their team to treat the event as their own personal break, so opted for a relaxed itinerary that allowed delegates the chance to enjoy the great outdoors at their own leisure.

In a culture that celebrates productivity and being busy, encouraging people to take a break isn’t enough. Safety measures need to be put into place to ensure that we don’t reward hard work with more work and burnout, but instead with dedicated time to rest and recharge as a team without the worry of falling behind on work.

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