Updated: May 15, 2020
Today, more than ever before people are capable of working from nearly anywhere. With advances in technology, communication and connectivity we are capable of working where ever we are nearly 24/7. So, it isn't surprising that we have seen a rise in burnout across the board.
In May, 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized "Burnout" as a syndrome stemming from "chronic workplace stress." The Deloitte Workplace Burnout Survey for 2019 is out and the findings are significant for everyone.
The findings indicate that 77 percent of respondents say they have experienced employee burnout at their current job, with more than half citing more than one occurrence.
Burnout, according the WHO is characterized by three key factors: “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”
Highlights From Deloitte’s 2019 Marketplace Survey on Burnout:
"Professionals today are undoubtedly feeling the pressure of an ‘always on’ work culture, causing stress and sometimes leading to burnout.
Deloitte’s external marketplace survey explores the drivers and impact of employee burnout, while also providing insight into the benefits and programs employees feel can help prevent or alleviate burnout versus those their companies are currently offering."
The survey found that:
"Employee burnout has no boundaries:
91 percent of respondents say having an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration negatively impacts the quality of their work.
While, 83 percent of respondents say burnout from work can negatively impact their personal relationships.
Passion may not prevent workplace stress:
87 percent of professionals surveyed say they have passion for their current job -
but 64 percent say they are frequently stressed, dispelling the myth that passionate employees are immune to stress or burnout.
Many companies may not be doing enough to minimize burnout:
Nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization.
21 percent of respondents say their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout.
Companies should consider workplace culture, not just well-being programs:
One in four professionals say they never or rarely take all of their vacation days.
The top driver of burnout cited in the survey is lack of support or recognition from leadership, indicating the important role that leaders play in setting the tone.
Burnout affects millennial retention:
84 percent of millennials say they have experienced burnout at their current job, compared to 77 percent of all respondents.
Nearly half of millennials say they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out, compared to 42 percent of all respondents."
When we look at the overall picture, it paints a disturbing scene. Burnout is hurting both employees and employers simultaneously. Researchers at Harvard, addressing mental health problems in the workplace, analyzed results from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey and found:
"The most costly health conditions for employers (including direct and indirect costs), depression ranked first, and anxiety ranked fifth — with obesity, arthritis, and back and neck pain in between.
Many of the studies in this field have concluded that the indirect costs of mental health disorders — particularly lost productivity — exceed companies' spending on direct costs, such as health insurance contributions and pharmacy expenses. Given the generally low rates of treatment, the researchers suggest that companies should invest in the mental health of workers — not only for the sake of the employees but to improve their own bottom line.
But the stigma attached to having a mental health issue or expressing burnout is such that employees may be reluctant to seek treatment — especially in the current economic climate — out of fear that they might jeopardize their jobs. At the same time, managers may want to help but aren't sure how to do so. And clinicians may find themselves in unfamiliar territory, simultaneously trying to treat a patient while providing advice about dealing with these issues at work."
Low mood symptoms may be present before during or after burnout, which is more likely to manifest behaviors — such as nervousness, restlessness, or even irritability — and in some cases more physical complaints, such as a preoccupation with generalized aches and pains. In addition, employees may become passive, withdrawn, aimless, and less productive. They also may be more fatigued at work, partly as a result of the burnout or partly because they are having trouble sleeping at night due to the chronic stress. Burnout due to chronic stress may also begin to cloud decision making, which is why lose of focus is such a common issue. When putting a face to the problem of burnout - we are currently defining it by its symptoms. What needs further study-- the underlying causes of burnout in modern business models.
With burnout in the spotlight, companies have an opportunity to step up and look for new solutions to improve their business models and the lives of their employees. A loud office doesn't necessarily mean a productive office and stress does not come in the same shape and size for every person. What causes one person a lot of stress may only minimally bother another person. This is why one-size fits all models and blanket solutions simply fail to address the problem entirely. When we attempt to mold an entire workforce into one standard model it is bound to cause more friction for some than for others- we are still individuals after all.
Employees need more opportunities to take part in defining their own plan for work/life balance to reduce burnout and to maintain their peak productivity. They need some control in the process. When employees feel powerless to change the circumstances they are struggling with in their job- they are more likely to leave than continue to try to make it work where they are.
Companies need to realistically examine how flexible their current culture is and how well leadership is engaging with employees on work/life balance issues.
Companies need to continually check the pulse of their employees to prevent and alleviate burnout. This can be done through employee surveys, through one on one conversations with leadership, through business burnout clinics or with many other methods. The point is companies need to have these conversations and continue to follow up with actionable advice for their employees.
When examining burnout triggers from a top-down point of view it is crucial to allow anonymity for employees who fear retaliation from leadership for expressing potential problems or dissatisfaction. Fear is the number one factor preventing employees from speaking out when they are unhappy at work.
The biggest drivers for employee burnout come from pressures from the top down -- so this may be an uncomfortable look in the mirror for some leaders. But the sooner you address this problem the faster you will be able to bring your company culture and productivity back on track.
According to Mental Health First Aid at Work, these are four things employers can do to help manage anxiety in the workplace:
"Educate: Teach employees and managers about mental health conditions and challenges at work.
Promote: Empower your employees with an environment that acknowledges mental health issues without a stigma, and that supports employees who may be experiencing burnout or other mental health conditions.
Encourage: Share well-being resources and employee assistance programs information with your employees and management team.
Hope: Foster realistic hope and optimism about options, treatments and recovery to overcome burnout and other mental health concerns."
If you truly want to optimize your workforce with a quality work/life balance, focus on the individual experience to find and reduce burnout triggers with a personalized plan for each employee.
Help us make work better for us all. Take part in our comprehensive study to uncover the causes of burnout in modern businesses and get the free assessment to see if you or your employees are at risk for burnout. Connect with us to learn more.