Workplace stress is an inevitable aspect of busy work life for employees. While people manage stress in multiple ways successfully, work-related stressors can lead to burnout if poorly managed. Prolonged and excessive stress can drain the employees physically, emotionally, and mentally, leading to workplace burnout.
A Mckinsey report shows that 4 in 10 employees in India exhibit signs of burnout, anxiety, and depression. However, employers are not aware of spotting these signs. Burnout results in disengagement from work and makes them more cynical. As a result, it lowers employee productivity. So, employers must identify signs of burnout and create employee wellbeing programs to combat the adverse impacts of burnout on employees and organisations.
Stress Vs Burnout
Stress has a short-term effect on a person, commonly triggered by specific situations or people. People who are stressed can manage their mental health better when the triggers disappear.
On the other hand, burnout has a long-term adverse effect on physical and mental health. Chronic stress at work can also affect organisational outcomes. About 65% of the Indian workforce is considering changing jobs in 2023, mainly due to workplace burnout.
Burnout prevents employees from being fully functional at work. Some risk factors that cause workplace stress are:
- Heavy workload
- Lack of control for employees
- Inadequate support from management
- Interpersonal conflict
- Unclear job role
- Improper communication of change.
Pressure Causes Burnout
Work-related stressors such as unmanageable workload, lack of autonomy, and poor work-life balance will ultimately lead to burnout. High work pressure results in physical and mental exhaustion leading to employee burnout. It decreases job satisfaction and can cause absenteeism. Dissatisfied employees will result in higher employee turnover.
Burnout can alter employees' workplace behaviour as they lose their sense of personal identity. It can cause other negative outcomes, such as poor quality of work. While studying workplace fatigue, 38% of Indian employees showed clear signs of burnout. Managers and supervisors must learn how to recognise signs of burnout to ensure the emotional wellbeing of their employees. HR must design employee assistance programs that benefit employees and organisations.
Employers must provide evidence-based mental health benefits that are easily scalable to support mental health in the workplace. Digital-first solutions provide employees immediate access to mental health tools anytime, anywhere. Due to the stigma, employees are not comfortable discussing mental illness at work.
Supporting team mental health using independent, external, and non-judgemental services is crucial. This can be achieved with an employee wellbeing platform available 24/7 to offer discreet, timely support for effective stress management. In addition to the practical tools for supporting mental health in the workplace, the organisational culture also has to change. Employers must design innovative strategies to avoid long work hours and provide a good work-life balance for employees.
Addressing burnout is not ‘just’ about offering some office perks. It is about creating a focused plan for improving employee morale and increasing job satisfaction by designing employee wellbeing programs that include mental health support. A Towers Watson report shows that 54% of companies are moving towards an updated strategy for promoting employee wellness. Recognising the need for mental health benefits to address the mental illness of employees is the first step. Simple actions can help employers create a supportive environment for employees' mental wellbeing:
- Regular check-ins with employees – Regularly interacting with employees and asking how they cope with work will help build employee connections. Managers and supervisors must encourage employees and provide access to useful resources for employee support. When they sense that employees are struggling, simple questions like ‘How can I best support you?’ or ‘What help do you need at the moment?' will help uncover ways to address employee mental health issues.
- Accessible mental health resources – Digital platform for mental health benefits provides tools, programs, and resources for employees when needed. Leaders must prioritise the mental wellbeing of the workforce and communicate the availability of such resources.
- Illustrate healthy culture – Employers must foster behavioural changes to create a workplace wellbeing culture. Managers and supervisors must take care of their team members and provide opportunities for work breaks. This time offs and holidays will encourage them to take a break from work-related stressors and recover. Open and transparent communication will break the stigma of mental illness at work when the team shares their struggles on a common platform.
Organisations must make strategic efforts for preventing burnout. In a survey, 41% of Indians reported that poor work-life balance negatively impacts their well-being. When leaders check up on employees and ask about their problems, it will help in increasing employee engagement in the company. Organisations can offer flexible work schedules and autonomy to promote a good work-life balance. Employees also love time-offs and vacations that help them recover from work stress. HR must design employee assistance programs with flexible and accessible mental health benefits. Providing discreet, immediate, and 24/7 access to mental health tools and resources will ensure that employees get timely assistance whenever they need it.
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