What is burnout and what effect is it having on our places of work

The definition of challenging work in the modem environment has changed, fewer people are involved in manual labour and more workers are taking on more mentally demanding jobs that put more of a strain on their inner self as opposed to their body. This has put forward different challenges for health and safety professionals who are now having to change the way they safeguard the safety of their workers. Here we will discuss the phenomenon of employee burnout and the negative effect it can have on your workplace.

What is workplace burnout?

Burnout has become something of a buzzword in recent years but what exactly does the term mean? Burn out is defined by many as a state of emotional and mental exhaustion which is usually brought about periods of intense work and stress. The symptoms include feelings of being overwhelmed and mentally drained. A recent study found that of 7,500 full-time employees found themselves operating in ‘burnout mode’.

Many confuse the phenomenon of workplace stress and burnout. The fundamental difference is that stress can be good for your employees. Good stress can increase a person’s motivation and lead to increased workplace performance. Burnout, however, has no positives. If long term stress develops into burnout it can lead to chronic stress and fatigue which can seriously impair our cognitive skills. From a health and safety perspective, employers should take all the necessary steps to ensure stress does not develop into burnout for employees.

What causes burnout in employees?

Many studies into the health and safety of employees found that key contributors to burnout included a fundamental lack of role clarity and understanding of the time constraints around particular tasks.  Contributing factors to burnout include a lack of proper health and wellbeing support services in workplaces designed to deal with the mental and emotional demands of employment.

How can burnout negatively impact my business and my employees?

Whilst many focus on the impact burnout can have on the individual this inevitably has further impacts on the organization as a whole. Many recorded negatives include a drop in productivity, a drop in employee morale and also decreased employee retention. All these factors can have a serious impact on the bottom line of your business.

Steps to mitigate employee burnout

When it comes to managing the mental health and safety of your employees having the right support systems in place is crucial. Make sure you have designated time to catch up with people and attempt to provide rewarding and autonomous work where possible. Additionally seeking expert health and safety advice will also assist you in getting the best out of your employees.