Data from the latest survey revealed nearly half of UK employees have suffered from excessive stress over the past year, leading to 10% leaving their jobs.
Experts are signalling that we’re seeing a “burnout build-up” for employees, which is likely to grow as we move into the winter months. The last three months have seen a 221% spike in searches for “signs of burnout,” according to Google Search data.
Further, a recent mental health and employee stress study of employees from over 500 companies in the UK found that almost half of employees in the country (47%) had experienced excessive stress at work in the past year.
Managing employee burnout is becoming a big challenge for employers trying to retain their employees, since one in eight have considered leaving their current job due to excessive work-related stress. In fact, one in 10 have actually quit in the last 12 months for this reason.
What is burnout?
Richard Holmes, Director of Well-being at Westfield Health, said: “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Pressure at work is usually the main culprit and when budgets are tight and teams are small, people often find themselves with multiple roles and heavy workloads, piling on the stress."
How can you curb workplace burnout?
Richard suggested that policies like turning off email servers outside of working hours helps ring-fence valuable recovery time. Additionally, mental health first-aid training can also help managers spot the signs or triggers and put preventions in place.
How can HR teams tackle excessive stress at work?
In the survey, when employees were asked about the support received from their workplace, one in every eight employees felt they didn’t receive the required support.
In terms of the factors affecting stress levels, 26% of employees reported that the greatest cause of excessive stress in their role was an unmanageable workload.
This was followed by financial concerns, with 24% saying the excessive stress was a result of inadequate pay, which left them struggling to keep up with their bills.
Dissatisfaction with employers and managers was also a significant contributing factor, with 18% of employees saying that management was poor or lacking, and 17% describing a lack of support from their company.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review, workplace expert and best-selling author of Unlocking Happiness at Work Jennifer Moss believes "burnout Is about your workplace, not your people."
The reasons for workplace burnout clearly indicate that the organisational policies, distribution of work, and culture are the key drivers that talent leaders need to revisit.
Social psychologist Christina Maslach shared an example: "Picture a canary in a coal mine. They are healthy birds, singing away as they make their way into the cave. But, when they come out full of soot and disease, no longer singing, can you imagine us asking why the canaries made themselves sick? No, because the answer would be obvious: the coal mine is making the birds sick."
It is time for leaders to look within the culture of the company and ask the employees what may be causing stress.
Claire Brown, a qualified life and career coach, said: “Companies should look to encourage employees to have input into the organisation of tasks, duty and priorities, and be invited to engage at every possible level in devising an in-house stress management policy."
Having conversations and identifying the stressors is just the starting point. If necessary steps to curb the rise in burnout levels are not taken, mass exodus may follow.