How Employers Can Prevent Burnout at Work

Mental health in the workplace continues to be stigmatized and people often feel like they will come across as weak and attention-seeking if they discuss their emotional health in the workplace.
Person Burned Out and Stressed

Mental health in the workplace continues to be stigmatized and people often feel like they will come across as weak and attention-seeking if they discuss their emotional health in the workplace. According to an article published on the Government of Canada website regarding Psychological Health in the Workplace, only 23% of Canadian workers feel comfortable talking to their employer about a psychological health issue. Due to the fear of losing their jobs, workers often brush aside their mental and physical health. The truth is that not talking about mental health in the workplace worsens the situation and makes our workplaces a breeding ground for burnout.

Burnout is characterized by a host of physical and psychological symptoms caused by work-related stressors. Most people who feel burnt out say they feel overworked and undervalued. During its initial stages, burnout can feel like a normal reaction to a stressful work environment and people report feeling exhausted and lethargic. However, as burnout progresses and remains untreated, people report cynicism towards life, inability to build and maintain relationships, lack of trust in one’s coworkers, constant fatigue, anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure or lack of enjoyment in activities people once found enjoyable), and trouble sleeping. The severe psychological symptoms related to burnout may also trigger a host of physical conditions such as hypertension, and diabetes.

To effectively combat burnout in the workplace we need to take the following steps:

Provide Effective Support

life preserver ring

Employees that report feeling burnt out are twice as likely to make mistakes, show up late, call in sick, and be less productive. Workplaces need to recognize that mental health is just like physical health, it requires treatment, intervention, and rehabilitation.  There are a variety of programs like Employee Assistance Program, benefits coverage for registered psychologists and therapists, and mental health sensitivity training for management to detect and help employees suffering from burnout. Being proactive in addressing mental health concerns in the workplace can help equip employees with the resources they need to manage stress at work.

Promote Work-Life Balance

Balancing Stones

Working long hours often leads employees to neglect their wellbeing. Sitting long hours at a desk in front of a computer is not exactly a mood booster. Research suggests that encouraging employees to take much-needed breaks during and after their workday can enhance employee morale, productivity, and collaboration. Hence, it’s important to ensure that your employees are taking breaks during their workday and are also using their vacation days.

Raise Awareness

Business presentation. Grateful audience clapping hands to speaker

Unfortunately, employees may be more likely to take burnout lightly if they’re unaware of the risks associated with it. Employers need to take charge and educate employees on how they can effectively manage burnout symptoms by implementing a comprehensive mental health in the workplace program that focuses on raising awareness, providing useful resources to employees, and encouraging employees to address their mental health concerns.

Diet and Exercise

Photo of fruits and vegetables

There is a growing link between mental and physical health. Physical activity is linked to the release of feel-good hormones like endorphins which elevate mood and increase energy. As our lifestyles are becoming more and more sedentary, wellness programs like discounted gym memberships can encourage employees to get moving and elevate their mood. Also, we cannot talk about health and neglect the topic of diet. Workplaces that provide employees with healthy snacks and drinks report higher productivity and lower levels of burnout. So employers: stock up on fruits and vegetables to energize your workforce!

Employee Recognition Program

Employees who report feeling burnt out often comment that their efforts are not being recognized and the effort they are putting in at work is disproportionate to rewards they receive. It is highly important to ensure that employees feel valued and they understand how their work impacts the organization. A formal employee recognition program allows employers to recognize employees’ contributions effectively and prevents employees from feeling undervalued. Recognition programs that focus on delivering fair monetary incentives, public recognition, and choice rewards often yield positive employee experience and motivates employees to strive for excellence.

Written by Niyati Dhandhukia
Architech Talent and Operations Specialist

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