Preventing Burnout Before It Begins

Most of us have experienced workplace stress at some point in our careers, but when that stress becomes chronic it develops into burnout, which can create a toxic workplace culture, affect an employees’ ability to perform, and even impact the bottom line of the organization. It is no wonder that a significant amount of research is being conducted on the causes and effects of burnout, so that this information can be shared with employers and employees alike, who can look for ways to avoid workplace stress.

While there is nothing new about burnout in the workplace, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have made us all the more familiar with this phenomenon. The article from Ben, “Burnout In The Digital Age: How to Avoid Workplace Stress,” highlights the research from Indeed conducted in 2021, which found that 52% of employees were experiencing burnout following the pandemic and web users searched the phrase “signs of burnout” on online search engines 24% more in 2020 than they did the year previous.

Fortunately, there are strategies that both employers and employees can use to reduce the probability of workplace burnout. Techniques ranging from better self-care, promoting work-life balance, and evolving company culture can all work together to help prevent burnout before it begins.

But before we delve into these strategies, let’s take a look at what burnout looks and feels like so that you will know how to spot the signs.

What is burnout?

Burnout occurs when workplace stress reaches an extreme level and causes mental and emotional exhaustion. According to the World Health Organization, burnout can be characterized as:

  • Feelings of exhaustion or energy depletion.
  • Feeling negative toward or mentally distanced from your job.
  • Reduced professional efficacy.

When workers experience stress, they may feel overwhelmed, or have difficulty concentrating on tasks, but when stress turns into burnout, it directly impacts a worker’s ability to engage or care about their work.

Symptoms of burnout

The signs of burnout can be emotional, physical, and/or mental. Common symptoms include:

  • Doubting your ability to perform your job.
  • Feeling disconnected at work.
  • Negative feelings toward your job.
  • Wanting to quit.
  • Fatigue and tiredness.
  • Headaches and body aches.
  • Insomnia.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Anxiety or depression.
  • Loss of concentration.

What can employers do to help prevent burnout?

Employers have a duty to protect their workers from harm, and the way that they can best protect their employees from burnout is to create a positive work environment. According to Gallup research, the main causes of burnout are:

  • Unfair treatment in the workplace.
  • Unmanageable workloads.
  • Unclear roles.
  • Lack of support or communication from management.
  • Unreasonable deadlines.

When management takes steps to combat these factors, employees are more likely to feel cared for and protected by their company.  By taking a people-first approach to employee recognition and well-being programs, companies can help ensure that that workers don’t feel disengaged from work which can also lead to burnout.

How can workers help to prevent burnout?

There are also things employees themselves can do to help prevent burnout. When employers are aware of these strategies, they can encourage their employees to use them to look after their own well-being.

Strategies workers can use (and employers can encourage) are:

  • Setting boundaries – workers should set boundaries with their co-workers, management, and themselves in order to avoid stretching themselves too thin. This may include being able to say no to added responsibilities they feel uncomfortable with, or sticking to a regular work routine so they are able to make time for other aspects of life besides work.
  • Maintaining a health work-life balance – workers need to be mindful of not just how they spend their time at work, but also how they spend their time away from work. It is important to take time for self-care and engaging in activities that bring you joy and a balanced life.
  • Communication with management – in a healthy workplace environment, workers should feel comfortable communicating with their manager, especially when they require support in order to avoid burnout.
  • Limit screen time – in a digital world where you can always be connected to work, employees must take time to disconnect and switch off from their professional life.

Benefits of preventing burnout

Taking steps to protect employees from burnout isn’t just a moral and legal obligation – it’s also really good for business. Since employee burnout can lead to increased absenteeism and reduced productivity, it is smart business sense for companies to combat burnout. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, every $1 invested in mental health yields a $4 return in health and productivity.

Contact TeksMed today

While prevention should always be the first measure against burnout, there are times when employers will need to make use of a good disability management or return to work plan. To put this in place for your company, contact TeksMed today.

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