Research from our Burnout Report highlights how stress and burnout can affect each of us differently, and in different areas of our lives, from at home to at work. The modern world and ways of life have thrown up huge social and technological changes for society, which in turn presents both employers and employees with challenges in protecting their wellbeing. Burnout is not just a workplace phenomenon but also exists outside of work. Times of stress at work, and outside of work, are inevitable, but knowing what our triggers are, and understanding how they impact us and recognising when the responsibility lies with the employee or employer to take action to support themselves or others, can help prevent challenging times escalating that can induce challenges at work from burnout.
Recommendations for employers:
As our report demonstrates, no two individuals will react the same to stressors in the workplace, so workplaces must take an individualist approach to preventing burnout. Workplaces encompass a complex blend of different needs, personalities, and cultures. The role of the employer is to adapt their knowledge and understanding of their workforce to create opportunities for recognising stress triggers, the impact of poor mental health at work, and introducing practical changes that can encourage better mental health, psychological safety and reduce the risk of stress and burnout.
There will be no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to recommendations for workplaces as all workforces have unique needs, and the onus will never be solely on employers as employees obtaining self-awareness in identifying their stressors is fundamental when it comes to early identification of burnout and promoting resilience. Some highly effective tools and interventions that can support workplaces to manage employee mental health, do however, include:
- A strategy, policy or plan for employee mental health that is proactively implemented, and regularly reviewed, to understand common anxieties in the workplace, prevent chronic stress and burnout, as well as to treat it.
- Having managers that understand the importance of good mental health and how to maintain it, achieved through mental health training to support modelling mentally healthy behaviours at work.
- Regular check-ins with employees to discuss workload and challenges. Wellbeing Plans can help to identify what good wellbeing looks like for each employee, as well as what it looks like when things aren’t so good.
- Have robust and clearly communicated policies and procedures in place to address workplace bullying and harassment. Promote a zero-tolerance policy for such behaviours.
- Conduct regular assessments of workplace stressors and burnout risks. Adjust policies and practices based on employee feedback and changing work conditions. By implementing these strategies, employers can create a healthier work environment that reduces the risk of burnout.
Recommendations for employees:
While it’s encouraging that the majority of working adults (57%) told us that they feel comfortable letting their line manager or senior leader know if they were experiencing high or extreme levels of pressure and stress at work, over a third of workers (35%) said they did not feel comfortable raising these concerns.
We all cope with stress differently, and what causes one person stress at work might not cause another person the same reaction. Employees must take proactive steps to identify their own triggers, so in collaboration with managers and employers, an open dialogue about what a “good workplace” looks like can occur and steps can be taken by both employers and employees to take responsibility for wellbeing at work to help to prevent burnout.
It also goes without saying, that how we feel outside of work impacts how we feel at work. Our mental health is on a continuum, and with this in mind, we must identify what “good mental health” looks like for us as individuals in all areas of our lives and to practice the steps we know to take that help us to maintain better mental health, as feeling better in other areas of our lives can support us in dealing with stress at work, too. When it comes to looking after ourselves at work specifically, however, some recommendations can help to reduce the chance of chronic stress leading to burnout, including:
- Reflect on what good mental health looks like for you at this point in your life. Complete a Mental Health UK “Wellness Action Plan” and consider what steps need to be put into place if you or someone else recognises signs you are struggling.
- Champion mental health in the workplace. All of us experience stress at times, but positive role-modelling, encouraging openness, and being understanding and compassionate towards other people are powerful tools for creating healthy and productive workplaces.
- Set boundaries to promote a healthy work-life balance. Clearly define work hours and avoid regularly working beyond them. Turn off work phones and put devices out of sight outside of working hours and understand how to properly switch off during annual leave. When faced with excessive workload or unrealistic deadlines, ascertain if there is flexibility around delivery times, and what further support would be helpful to alleviate pressure and stress.
- Discuss workload and expectations with your manager. Be open about challenges you may be facing and seek support when needed. When possible, learn to delegate, ask for assistance, or share workload with colleagues.
Looking for more guidance around coping with stress outside of work? Our Burnout Report provides more advice and recommendations for employees.
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