Burnout: a term we hear all too often in the modern workplace. Originating from the world of psychology in the 1970s, the term has since infiltrated our day-to-day vocabulary, especially in today’s fast-paced, ‘always-on’ work culture. For managers and employees in the UK, it’s more important than ever to understand burnout – both its signs and its solutions. So let’s look at the 5 warning signs of burnout.
1. Chronic Fatigue and Exhaustion
Sign: One of the most common symptoms of burnout is feeling tired all the time. This goes beyond the usual end-of-day fatigue. Employees might feel emotionally, mentally, and physically drained, finding it challenging to muster up the energy to start another day.
Solution: Encourage a culture of rest. This could be in the form of taking regular breaks during the workday, ensuring that staff do not work outside their contractual hours, and respecting annual leave without checking in. Managers could also offer flexible working arrangements or consider a temporary reduced workload.
2. Increased Cynicism and Detachment
Sign: The passionate employee who once took pride in their job might now display cynicism towards their work, colleagues, or the company. There may be a noticeable lack of enthusiasm or commitment.
Solution: Open communication is key. Create a safe environment where employees can voice their concerns without fear of retribution. Consider offering mentorship or peer support groups, where staff can discuss their feelings and find mutual support.
3. Decreased Performance
Sign: Tasks that were once straightforward may now seem insurmountable. Burnout can lead to a decline in concentration, creativity, and productivity.
Solution: Provide training and development opportunities. This not only equips employees with new skills but also reignites their passion and sense of purpose. Regular check-ins or appraisals can help identify any areas where an employee feels they are struggling.
4. Health Problems
Sign: Chronic stress, a significant contributor to burnout, can manifest in various physical symptoms like headaches, stomach issues, and increased illness. Additionally, mental health may deteriorate, leading to anxiety or depression.
Solution: Promote a holistic approach to well-being. This includes regular health check-ups, mental health resources, and perhaps introducing wellness activities like yoga or mindfulness sessions. Encourage employees to use their sick days when they genuinely feel unwell.
5. Increased Absenteeism
Sign: An uptick in the frequency of sick days or a pattern of taking days off can be indicative of burnout. The employee might be trying to cope by distancing themselves from the source of their stress.
Solution: Foster a culture of understanding and empathy. Rather than penalising frequent absences, engage in a conversation to understand the root cause. Consider offering counselling services or an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to support those in distress.
Burnout doesn’t discriminate; it can affect anyone, from the freshest recruit to the most seasoned manager. Recognising the early signs and taking proactive measures to address them is essential for the well-being of employees and the health of the business. In the end, by investing in the well-being of staff, companies are investing in their future success. Read more here about Anne-Laure’s experience of burnout.
If you would like to book a workshop for your team, then click here to find out more about the ‘Prevent Burnout & Fatigue’ workshop.