Tackling Stress and Preventing Burnout

Stress in the workplace is a prevalent and multifaceted challenge that impacts employees at various levels. It arises from a combination of factors, including demanding workloads, tight deadlines, interpersonal conflicts, and uncertainties about job security. The effects of workplace stress extend beyond mere emotional strain, often manifesting physically and cognitively, potentially leading to burnout if left unaddressed.

High levels of stress can negatively influence job performance, employee morale, and overall organisational effectiveness. Recognising the importance of mitigating workplace stress, many organisations are now prioritising strategies such as flexible work arrangements, mental health initiatives, and stress management programs to foster a healthier and more supportive work environment.

Workplace burnout refers specifically to burnout that is caused by work-related stressors, it occurs when the demands of work exceed an individual’s ability to cope, leading to a state of chronic stress and exhaustion. Burnout is not just about feeling tired or stressed though – it is a more severe condition that can result in a range of negative outcomes, including reduced work performance, absenteeism, interpersonal conflicts, and even physical and mental health problems.

Burnout can affect individuals in any profession, from entry-level employees to senior executives, and can be particularly prevalent in high-stress industries such as healthcare, law enforcement, and finance. The causes of workplace burnout can vary, they can often include factors such as high workloads, long hours, a lack of control over one’s work, unclear job expectations, poor relationships with co-workers or management, and a lack of social support at work.

How to Spot the Signs of Workplace Burnout

Recognising employee burnout signs and analysing their frequency in the workplace can help you assess the stress levels of your staff. To keep high employee productivity and enthusiasm at work, you must spot workplace burnout early. A common burnout symptom is when an employee no longer feels valuable to the company and detaches themselves from it as a defence mechanism, those who feel burnt out often feel as though they can’t provide much to their company. According to Deloitte 50% of all absenteeism at work relates to mental health challenges. Due to high levels of stress, employees may take extra leave or more than one unnecessary sick day to escape the workplace environment.

Impact of Workplace Burnout on Employees

Often when burnout is present in the workplace it usually creeps in subtly over time, impacting workers in a way they almost don’t notice. It is characterized by feelings of overwhelmed exhaustion, cynicism or detachment from work, and a sense of decreased effectiveness and accomplishment. Workplace burnout can manifest in a variety of ways, including physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach-aches, emotional symptoms such as anxiety or depression, and behavioural symptoms such as decreased productivity or increased absenteeism.

While working from home has become the new norm for many, studies show that remote workers are 14% more likely to burnout than hybrid workers. Employees may feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities at work and forget to take time off or disconnect from their computers at the end of the day. Across Europe 4 out of 10 employees check work-related emails or answer work-related phone calls out of hours. Many have suggested that they feel pressured by supervisors to devote more hours to their duties, resulting in employees going into what has been coined as ‘professional burnout’. A survey by Indeed revealed that 53% of participant who were remote workers found themselves spending more time on the job despite being at home.

Tackling Stress in the Workplace

Implementing an adaptable work schedule and providing remote work options can significantly contribute to tackling stress and preventing burnout within the workplace. By acknowledging and accommodating individual needs, organisations demonstrate a commitment to employee wellbeing and work-life balance. This approach recognises that each employee may have unique circumstances and preferences allowing them to tailor their work hours or location to better suit their personal and professional lives. Offering remote work options not only caters to those who may benefit from a more flexible work arrangement but also minimises commuting-related stress and promotes a sense of autonomy.

Establishing a workplace culture that fosters open dialogue about workload concerns and mental wellbeing is pivotal for effectively addressing stress and promoting a healthy work environment. Encouraging employees to openly communicate about their workload allows for a better understanding of individual capacities and challenges, enabling managers and teams to collaboratively find solutions that prevent burnout. Similarly, creating an atmosphere where mental wellbeing is a central focus normalises discussions around stress, anxiety, and overall mental health. This transparency breaks down the stigma often associated with these topics, fostering a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable seeking help or sharing their struggles.

Developing robust support systems for managers is crucial in creating a positive work environment and effectively addressing psychosocial risks within an organisation. Managers play a pivotal role in shaping the workplace culture and influencing employee wellbeing. Providing comprehensive training and resources for managers equips them with the skills to recognise and mitigate psychosocial risks, such as stress and burnout, among their teams. Support systems may include regular check-ins, mentorship programs, and access to mental health resources.

Preventing Burnout in the Workplace

Dealing with burnout isn’t something an individual employee can do independently. They’ll need support to deal with the stressors of a full-time job. A strong management support system and an understanding of what causes workplace burnout, allows employers to effectively prevent their organisation from burning out. Employers can take steps to reduce workplace stress and support employee wellbeing, such as providing resources for stress management and access to an employee assistance programme. They can also offer flexible work arrangement for staff, promoting a positive work-culture that prioritises work-life balance.

Defining realistic expectations and actively encouraging employees to establish boundaries is paramount in preventing burnout and workplace stress. By setting clear, achievable goals and expectations, organisations create a framework that allows employees to manage their workloads effectively. Encouraging employees to communicate their limitations and establish reasonable limits on working hours fosters a healthier and more sustainable work environment. This approach not only mitigates the risk of burnout but also promotes productivity and job satisfaction. When employees feel supported in maintaining a balance between their professional and personal lives, they are more likely to thrive both in their roles and overall wellbeing, contributing to a positive and sustainable workplace culture.

How Can Wellity Support You?

Implementing ongoing training for both staff and managers is essential in cultivating a workplace that recognises, manages, and prevents psychological risks and burnout. Regular training sessions provide employees with the knowledge and tools needed to identify stressors, manage work-related pressures, and adopt coping mechanisms.

Here at Wellity we offer IIRSM accredited burnout prevention training. This program not only meets international standards but also emphasises practical strategies to mitigate burnout risk.

Our comprehensive programme ‘The B.O.I.L.I.N.G. Point Programme’ has been designed to equip managers and leaders with the insight to understand burnout and learn how to adopt an action-based approach to making change. The modules emphasise the role of every manager in promoting a positive message around healthy pressure management, respecting the unique needs of every individual, and helping their teams adopt an empowered approach to tackling and preventing burnout.

Burnout – The Fundamentals:

The goal of this module is to help managers to truly understand the concept of burnout.

  • Learn what burnout is and how to recognise it.
  • Discover the three dimensions of burnout.
  • Understand how to distinguish burnout.
  • Explore the managers role in preventing burnout.

Occupational Risk & Protective Factors:

The goal of this module is to recognise and manage the work-related risk and protective factors.

  • Recognise work-related stressors.
  • Learn how to empower employees to utilise protective factors.
  • Establish the importance of psychological safety.
  • Understand organisational cultural influencers.

Individual Risk & Protective Factors:

The goal of this module is to identify the factors that make an employee more at risk of burnout, and how to mitigate these risks.

  • Learning the impact of risk factors, including imposter syndrome.
  • Discovering the power of personal burnout prevention.
  • Engaging in healthy and empowering conversations.
  • Shifting the focus to balance and boundaries.

Leading the Way – Being a Role Model:

The goal of this module is to discover the importance of personal burnout prevention.

  • Establishing the importance of being a role model.
  • Overcoming personal barriers to energy management.
  • Acknowledging own unhealthy habits.
  • Cultivating a positive message to the team.
  • Understand organisational cultural influencers.

Identifying. New. Goals:

The goal of this module is to establish a working plan and set goals for learning application.

  • Sharing individual commitments to making a change.
  • Discussing and setting accountability goals.
  • Exploring ways to overcome potential barriers to success.
  • Final reflections and peer discussion.

For any further information on this session, contact us at hello@wellityglobal.com.

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