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Understanding How To Move From Burnout To Breakthrough

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

It seems like we cannot get away from the phenomena of employee stress 'burnout' which was not helped by the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) claims the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020/21 was 822,000; a prevalence rate of 2,480 per 100,000 workers.

Employees and business owners across all ages, occupations and sectors are experiencing the symptoms of stress 'burnout'; anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, mental and physical health challenges.

So, What’s Going On?

Research has shown that employee stress ‘burnout’ is a widespread reality and women are more likely than men to be locked in the following unequal demands that affect their personal and professional lives as follows:-

  • Additional stress of working outside traditional times due to transitory work demands, oftentimes without additional pay

  • The impact of increased caring, housework and home schooling responsibilities

  • Not setting healthy boundaries around the intensity and workload pressures, tight deadlines and lack of sufficient managerial suppor

  • Limited access to allies and role models to support their needs, which may lead to feelings of “unplugging”

Be careful of the narrative of the benefits of working from home (WFH) because women will find that they may find themselves: -

  • Victims of wage discrepancies

  • Overlooked for pay rises, rewards and promotion

  • Difficult to manage their professional ‘brand’ if out of the office, which can lead to them underselling themselves

  • Limited access to resources, networks and face to face business leaders, role models, mentorship and influencers to reach their potential

There is no getting away from bias for BAME women who experience greater levels of employee stress ‘burnout’ due to disproportionate discriminatory practices e.g. lower pay, lack of promotion, bullying or harassing behaviour from management.

Does This Matter?

The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee Workforce recently released its report 'Burnout and Resilience in the NHS and Social Care' (May 21/22).

According to the report the NHS employs around 1.3 million people in England and there are around 1.65 million jobs in adult social care. Together both services potentially account for around 8.6% of the working age population.

However, they found that ‘burnout’ was an issue in the NHS and social care workforce long before COVID-19 and it needed to be tackled now if they are to attract and retain skilled staff; keep them physically and mentally well whilst providing high quality care to patients and service users.

One of their key recommendations was that the NHS develop a full and comprehensive definition of 'workforce burnout' and set out how the wellbeing of all NHS staff is being monitored and assessed.

It was clear that there was the need for better workforce planning; adequate training and addressing the staff shortage crisis.

Next Steps

It has to be a long term approach to developing both a healthy and compassionate personal and leadership change if companies want to avoid employee stress ‘burnout’.

If organisations are serious about leveraging innovation, productivity and profits they will have to make a major (and uncomfortable) cultural shift as well as introducing policies, processes, systems and strategies that supports employee wellbeing, thus reducing stress ‘burnout’.

Finally, leaders should not only focus on professional and business productivity, but introduce and maintain new management styles and behaviours. The benefits are obvious.

You retain a motivated, engaged, productive talent pool and avoid expensive retention, sickness and training costs.

Ladies, if you are experiencing feelings of stress ‘burnout’ do not suffer in silence. Seek support from your organisation or seek a mentor, coach or counsellor who understands this area of anxiety. To your success.

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