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Facing employee burnout? Here's what you need to do

Shot of a young businessman experiencing stress during late night at work
A new report reveals that over half of Australians are feeling burnt out at work. (Source: Getty)

Feeling stressed, overwhelmed or burnt out by work commitments is not a new phenomenon.

However, as with many things in the last two years, the pandemic has heightened these feelings for many, with the challenges of working from home, endless video meetings and managing staff remotely all contributing to the feeling of unease.

A new survey on “Wellness at Work” conducted recently by leading HR software platform Employment Hero, found that a whopping 53 per cent of respondents felt “burnt-out” by their current role.

The report goes on to add that 52 per cent rated their work/life balance as average or poor, up from 46 per cent the previous year.

Do we admit there’s a problem?

Yahoo Finance Australia spoke with Alex Hattingh, chief people officer at Employment Hero, to get her thoughts on the data.

“Unfortunately, it seems many Australians are feeling the pressure from two years of upheaval in their work and personal life due to the pandemic. However, if they are overwhelmed, it should hopefully be of comfort that they are not alone in this, as our data shows,” she said.

Hattingh goes on to explain that the survey, which was completed by 1,700 working Australians, may even underestimate the extent of the issue.

“We actually think 53 per cent of people admitting burnt out at work may slightly lower than the real number, as Australians tend to not want to disclose when they want help as much as they perhaps should.”

Working on this assumption, well over half of the working population may be struggling to cope with their current work commitments.

If that really is the case, what should employers be doing to combat this?

How to combat employee burnout

It’s a subject that Hattingh is keen to highlight, particularly as she’s noticed an increase in enquiries from clients on this subject in recent months.

“More organisations are approaching us to advise them on how to best accommodate these concerns, which indicates not only that the problem exists, but also an increasing awareness from employers,” she said.

Hattingh goes on to suggest that one of the solutions could be designating a wellness budget for each employee, with the individual being responsible for how this is spent rather than the company.

That may be counter to how most organisations operate at present, with companies tending to stipulate what they think employees need, rather than allowing them to choose what works for them.

“Our data suggests that the employee value proposition (EVP) is even more important as we exit the pandemic. Wellness at work needs to be a key component of this, and putting the individual at the centre of the solution is a trend we starting to see,” she said.

A shift in thinking towards employee driven wellness programs is likely to get more buy-in from the individuals they are intended to serve, with additional benefits to the employer.

Young woman practicing yoga in the office
Employee led wellness programs could help with engagement and staff loyalty. (Source: Getty)

Wellness and loyalty are linked

Another key finding from the research is that staff who value their employers’ commitment to wellness at work are more inclined to stay in their role, as Hattingh pointed out.

“Workers who rated their employer’s commitment to wellness were 63 per cent more likely to be loyal, which is extremely valuable information given the discussions around the Great Resignation recently,” she said.

Given the demand for key skills in the current job market, along with the increasing frequency with which workers are changing jobs in the current climate, it’s a statistic that warrants attention.

Organisations looking engage and retain their key performers can utilise an employee wellness program as part of their strategy to achieve these goals.

As for those workers that may be struggling with burn out, it’s worth considering checking in on how you rate yourself on each of the seven dimensions of wellness listed in the report:

  • Physical

  • Mental

  • Financial

  • Occupational

  • Relational

  • Spiritual

  • Recreational

Not all of the above will relate directly to work. However, finding a balance between earning a living and looking after your health is something we all need to thrive and be productive, both at work and home.

The good news is that, as Hattingh concluded, employers are more receptive in assisting with the wellbeing of their staff, with the pandemic accelerating a shift in attitude on the subject.

“Don’t be afraid to approach your employer with wellness concerns,” she said.

As we move into the post pandemic stage, being open and honest with your employer on how they can support you could be the difference between arresting the slide into burnout or not. Prevention rather than a cure should be the message for many.

With most companies now recognising the link between happy, health employees and increased productivity, your employer may well even thank you for it.

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