Here's what I know: workplace burnout is a serious business

Peter Done: Managing Director and Founder

July 01 2019

Imagine an illness of epidemic levels swept through the workplaces of the UK. This epidemic was so enormous that it caused 45 million working days to be taken off in just one year by the nation’s workforce. Its symptoms were broad, ranging from poor sleep, an unsettled stomach and high blood pressure, to irritability and poor concentration. And the effects were emotional exhaustion, reduced efficiency in the workplace, depersonalisation, cynicism and absenteeism. 

Your employees and your business are at risk

You’d panic, wouldn’t you? You’d naturally worry that your employees would suffer. And you’d be concerned about the impact it would have on your business. You’d take any measures you could to stop it getting into your workplace and affecting the fantastic people who work for you. I know that you’ve already guessed what I’m about to say... But this epidemic is real and it’s happening now, in the UK. And just because it isn’t a physical illness you can cure with antibiotics doesn’t make it any less profound, debilitating or important.  This is workplace burnout.

It’s now a classified medical condition

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now added it to its International Classification of Diseases, meaning that it will become a globally recognised occupational phenomenon as of 2020.  Burnout is defined as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successful managed,” and the WHO predicts that work-related stress, burnout and depression will top the list of the world’s most prevalent medical conditions by 2020. This is not something that is “all in someone’s head” or that someone can “just snap out of”. This is real. And it’s having a massive impact on our employees’ wellbeing, and on our businesses, too. The statistics prove it.

How do you handle workplace burnout?

For me, one of the key phrases in the WHO report is “not been successfully managed.” What does that mean? What can you as an employer do to “manage” workplace burnout and help those employees who may be struggling—and underperforming as a consequence? One route is to offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). And before you, quite rightly, ask—it only costs pennies per month per employee. An EAP allows employees to access a confidential 24/7 helpline and, should they need it, have face-to-face counselling. The counsellors assist with any problems that the employees may have without them having to face long healthcare waiting lists. And the evidence is undeniable—fast intervention is the key to helping with these problems. 

Employer interventions make all the difference

Most importantly, these kinds of interventions work. In 2018, we received more than 35,000 calls on work-related issues (11% of all the calls we received overall in the year). 80% of these were about stress in the workplace. Of those who engaged with therapy, we saw nearly a 40% improvement in terms of getting them back to productive work. This is a massive number of people who would not otherwise be working and getting back to leading an engaged life in the workplace.

Get in touch

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees. So give us a call on 0800 028 2420 and we’ll be happy to talk you through how an EAP works, the benefits, and where it might fit into your business. You can also find out more about workplace burnout in our article here, so do click through if you want to read a little more about this incredibly important issue.

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