Burnout is the natural result of the disconnect between what we humans have to offer versus the unflagging demands of modern workplaces. But how can we deal with it? The article will answer these questions and point out how burnout can threaten to erode workplace mental health.
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What Is Burnout? How Does It Affect Mental Health at Work?
According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a condition that results from work stress that has not been managed effectively. It’s easy to see where the stress is coming from, given the stresses of working in a pandemic or the more hours workers put into their jobs. Although it isn’t a medical condition, burnout can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. It can cause anxiety, depression, a lack of sleep, fatigue, and other problems.
Burnout is a difficult problem to manage because it can affect even the most dedicated employees. These employees tend to take on more responsibility, work longer hours and experience greater job-related stress. Their dedication to work and lack of balance can lead to them becoming more stressed. As their supervisors acknowledge their abilities, they often end up with more responsibilities. Sometimes, however, wages, recognition, and advancement opportunities don’t keep up with the times.
People Who Are Dealing With Burnout Often Share Three Common Traits
- Physical exhaustion. The most common symptoms of burnout are chronic energy depletion, fatigue, and exhaustion. This is when employees feel exhausted and crash on the couch or go to bed at the end of the workday.
- Cynicism. People who experience burnout feel a greater mental distance from their jobs, and are often characterized by negative or cynicism. They question the value of their work and wonder what it really means.
- Personal efficacy. The third, and most concerning characteristic of burnout is a decreased sense of personal effectiveness. No matter how productive or successful a person may be at work, they eventually feel that it doesn’t have an impact on their lives and are unable to complete even the most basic tasks.
Burnout Is on the Rise
- 52% of workers reported feeling burnout
- 67% reported that burnout has increased since the outbreak of the pandemic
- 79% reported experiencing work-related stress
Burnout and workplace stress go hand-in-hand. The American Psychological Association reported that both problems were high in all fields of work. In late 2021, 79 percent of 1,501 U.S. workers had experienced work-related stress within the last month. 3 out of 5 of those surveyed said it had negatively affected their work life. 36% reported cognitive weariness, 22% reported emotional exhaustion and 44% reported physical fatigue, all signs of burnout. The sharp rise in burnout was evident in the increase in physical fatigue, which rose to 44 percent. This is a 38 percent increase from the last survey in 2019.
What Can Companies Do to Reduce Burnout?
Employers know that employees who are in good workplace mental health are essential to an organization’s success. However, few employers have made plans to address this complex issue. A survey of 322 U.S. employers was conducted by the management consulting firm Willis Towers Watson in October 2021. 86 percent of respondents stated that mental health, stress, and burnout are top priorities. However, 49 percent still hadn’t created a formal plan and only 25% had a well-being strategy.
There are a few strategies that have been developed by companies who are actively seeking ways to improve the workplace mental health of their employees and decrease burnout. These are two of them.
Encouraging Better Work-Life Balance
Employees are encouraged to take more time off to encourage work-life balance. Many companies are increasing the amount of paid time off (PTO), they offer to full-time employees.
Even if they offer unlimited or more PTO, companies have discovered that this doesn’t always alleviate the problem of burnout. Employees fear that work will build up, making it even harder to return. People who are the most vulnerable to burnout are more likely to take leave than those who are dedicated employees. Companies can grant employees permission to leave work without worrying by instituting a shutdown.
Mental Health Benefits
Employers are now including mental health services as part of their employee benefits. The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 1,686 private and non-federal employers in 2021. It found that 39% of them had made changes to their health plans in order to increase access to mental health care. Six percent of those surveyed increased the number of providers in their network for mental health services, 16 percent created new resources and programs for employees, and 31 percent increased access to telemedicine.
Many of us have been through a lot. Workplace stress is a major factor. Overwork and burnout can cause serious and long-lasting health problems for even the most dedicated employees. Many companies are now recognizing the seriousness of the problem. There are many ways to make your workplace more pleasant and healthier.
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