The first in our series of three blogs on burnout…
It’s no secret that UK workers are vulnerable to burnout – exhaustion and stress that can cause mental and physical health problems, leading to inability to work. Everyone has a different level of how much pressure they can cope with, so it can sometimes be difficult to identify when things are going wrong for any one particular individual.
So how do we stop getting to the point of burnout? Pressure at work, home or in education is never going to stop, so the answer lies in learning how to deal with it. The term ‘resilience’ is a hot topic at the moment in HR departments throughout the City and in the wider workforce. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from setbacks or illness. It’s the ability to ‘bounce back’, no matter how difficult the challenge.
Some people are more naturally resilient than others, but resilience is a skill that can – and should – be learnt by everyone to prevent burnout and to create more engaged, productive and happier people. In our fast paced lives change is the new norm and resilience is the new skill!
Signs and symptoms
The signs of burnout are many and may differ from person to person. However, if you or someone in your workforce, family or team is suffering any of the symptoms below, now is the time to act.
- Maintaining a fast pace at work and at home!
- Disrupted sleep and/or a reduced ability to relax
- Loss of clear thinking and ability to focus
- Depleted confidence in social situations
- Expressing negative emotions such as anger and frustration
- More prone to distractions and mistakes
- Contracting more colds and infections (reduced immunity!)
- Making lifestyle choices that are unhelpful in the long run in order to feel better in the short term
- Believing there is little time in your schedule for enjoyable activities
- Feeling tired and a lack of energy
- Difficulty in remaining calm or focused under pressure
- Diminished capacity to bounce back after a pressurised or challenging situation
- Knowing that if nothing changes 2 years from now that would not be good!
The costs if we don’t stop
If we don’t stop burnout, the human and business costs are high. Not only do we put people’s health at risk, damaging social and family life, we also have enormous business costs in terms of absenteeism, loss of production and recruitment.
There is also the matter of ‘presenteeism’ to factor in – the practice of being at work when sick and therefore being unproductive, which can sometimes continue over a long period of time. Many workers are scared of admitting they are feeling stressed or having mental health problems and therefore turn up to work as usual, even if they can’t cope with their day-to-day tasks.
The business costs in all of this are a reportedly £26 billion per year across the UK as a whole, and the costs escalate especially when dealing with high-achieving and senior staff! It is becoming very clear that a more resilient workforce is beneficial to all – individuals, families and corporations. However, what action are we seeing by companies to tackle this need?
The £26 billion annual cost to UK industry equates to an average of £1,000 per working employee.
One question for organisations is: -
Do we need to build a more resilient workforce or do we actually need braver leaders to recognise and accept that depression, burnout and employee wellbeing are topics that need action?
Look out for the next two parts of our blog on burnout:
BURNOUT PART 2: Beyond Burnout – authentic and powerful stories breaking the stigma on stress
BURNOUT PART 3: The Resilience Formula – A whole body approach