Executive burnout

Executive burnout
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“I was doing a bonkers amount of work. The idea is to do less better,”was the headline from an article by Andrew Marr last year. Sadly, that month the other article that caught my attention this past week was a report that the CFO of Zurich Insurance had committed suicide.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world, yet in the workplace depression is still often perceived as a taboo subject. Executive burnout will continue to grow in industrialised countries until corporations decide to recognise this as an issue and commit to finding workable solutions. In lots of cases of burnout, the numbers will be disguised as resigning for personal reasons, extended sabbatical, early retirement or even dying way too young from a heart attack. However the fact remains that in the UK, 1 in 3 workers are at risk of burnout (Towers Watson) and we spend billions each year on sick pay alone – what is stopping UK corporations looking at the topic of burnout?


An article written by Barbara Wright-Avilitis says, “the problem is that those at the top of major corporations are generally not willing to change a system that has worked well for them in the past. The thing is that the winds of business can shift direction and one day that system might not work so well for them any longer. It’s time to bring experts together and find workable solutions together as a business community and then act on them.”

In my work as a resilience, stress management and performance coach, reflecting on the press coverage I would like to ask for an opinion on this topic:


  • What is stopping organisations in the UK proactively setting wellbeing strategies, processes and solutions to enable their workforce to improve their longer-term health and performance?


Despite sickness absence alone costing industry billions each year, most companies still have no budget for employee wellbeing. Dare I ask:


• Do we need to build a more resilient workforce or do we actually need braver leaders to recognise that depression, burnout and employee wellbeing are topics that need action?