Have you addressed the rising risk of burnout?

Philip McKeever

January 29 2020

The Mater Private has released a report into the health and wellbeing of Irish employees.

The Healthy Working report identifies a number of occupational health issues affecting employees including physical and mental wellbeing, stress, and the rising concern of burnout.

What is burnout?

Last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified ‘burnout’ as an occupational phenomenon.

The WHO defined burnout as a ‘syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’

The WHO classification document also listed the following signs as primary indicators of burnout:

  • Exhaustion or a lack of energy.
  • Reduced professional efficacy.

Mater report findings

There are some startling parallels between last year’s WHO classification and the Mater Private research. The Irish healthcare group’s report uncovered various employee concerns, particularly around the areas of work-life balance and lack of exercise. The report set out figures including:

  • Nearly 70% of employees experience some form of stress at work.
  • Only 30% of employees believe they have a good work-life balance.
  • Half of employees report feeling too tired from work to exercise.
  • Four in 10 employees claim to have suffered from burnout.

Other notable statistics from the report pointing to burnout include:

  • Over half of employees reported thinking about work on days off.
  • Just under half of employees reported working outside of their normal hours.
  • Nearly a quarter of employees reported working on their days off.
  • Almost a fifth of employees do not use their full allocation of annual leave.
  • Nine out of 10 employees continue working while they are sick.

What is causing burnout?

Burnout develops in various ways. For instance, 21% of employees surveyed admitted to being ‘always on’. Mobile communication devices have prompted an ‘always on’ work culture. The lines between work and personal life are increasingly blurred and this is a modern employment challenge that employers and employees alike are learning to handle. What we do know is that being ‘always-on’ negatively affects employees’ lives outside of work, and in turn, leads to symptoms of burnout.

All the facts and figures are pointing towards a need for employers to take measures to ensure employees look after their occupational health.

Risks to employers

The risk of burnout is especially high in companies that demand a lot of their employees. This could be working long hours, staying in touch outside work, or forgoing breaks to complete tasks.

One possible fallout from burnout is an increased risk of compensation claims for work-related illnesses. As your duty of care to provide a safe and healthy workplace includes protecting both the physical and mental health of employees, you could face serious repercussions for pushing your employees too far.

How to reduce the risk of burnout

Now that you’re familiar with the signs of stress and burnout, what can you do to help your employees?

One route is to offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). An EAP is a cost-effective way of providing employees with access a confidential 24/7 helpline and, should they need it, have face-to-face counselling.

EAP counsellors assist the employee with any problems they may have without them having to approach either their employer or the health service. There is clear evidence to show that fast intervention is the key to resolving a lot of mental health problems including burnout.

Need our help?

If you would like further complimentary advice on burnout from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on 1890 252 923 or request a callback here.

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