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Employee Burnout: The Causes, Risks & Solutions

Matches on yellow background, first 5 having been burned

Did you know that according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), work-related stress is the leading cause of long-term sickness absence in the UK, with 37% of employers reporting an increase in stress-related absences in the past year.

Or that a study by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of work-related ill health and 54% of working days lost in the UK in 2019/20.

As a leading provider of employee health and wellbeing solutions, ToHealth Ltd. understands the importance of addressing the issue of employee burnout in UK businesses. Burnout can have serious consequences for both the employee and the business, and it is essential to identify the causes, risks and solutions to prevent it from happening.

What is employee burnout?

Employee burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that occurs when an individual feels overwhelmed, overworked, and emotionally drained by their job. Burnout is not just a temporary feeling of tiredness or stress; it is a chronic condition that can have serious consequences for both the employee and the organisation they work for.

Burnout can manifest in several ways, including feeling emotionally drained, experiencing reduced job satisfaction and productivity, feeling cynical or detached from work, and having a negative attitude towards colleagues or customers. Burnout can also lead to physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension.

Causes of employee burnout

Man sitting at desk with book over his head and crumpled papers surrounding him

Employee burnout is a complex phenomenon that can be caused by several factors, including work-related stressors and personal factors. Here are some common causes of burnout:

  1. Excessive workload: One of the most common causes of burnout is an excessive workload. When employees are given more work than they can handle, they may feel overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed. This can lead to burnout over time, especially if the workload is sustained and there is no relief in sight.
  2. Lack of support: Employees who do not feel supported by their colleagues or management may experience burnout. Lack of support can take many forms, such as lack of feedback or recognition, insufficient resources, or poor communication. Employees who feel unsupported may feel isolated, undervalued, and unappreciated, which can lead to burnout.
  3. Poor work-life balance: Employees who struggle to balance their work and personal life may experience burnout. Poor work-life balance can occur when employees work long hours, have inflexible schedules or have to deal with work-related stress outside of work hours. When employees feel like they don’t have enough time for their personal lives, they may become burnt out.
  4. Job insecurity: Employees who are uncertain about their job security may experience burnout. Job insecurity can be caused by several factors, such as company restructuring, downsizing, or financial difficulties. When employees feel like their jobs are at risk, they may become anxious, stressed and demotivated, which can lead to burnout.
  5. Unrealistic expectations: Employees who are expected to achieve unrealistic goals or targets may experience burnout. Unrealistic expectations can be set by management or by the employees themselves. When employees feel like they are unable to meet the expectations set for them, they may become stressed, anxious and demotivated, which can lead to burnout.

It is important to note that burnout can also be caused by personal factors, such as a lack of coping skills, poor health, or difficulties in personal relationships. These factors can interact with work-related stressors to increase the risk of burnout. Employers should be aware of these factors and provide support to employees to prevent burnout from occurring.

Risks of employee burnout

Burnout can have serious consequences for both the employee and the business. Some of the risks of employee burnout include:

  1. Decreased productivity: Employees suffering from burnout are less productive, which can affect the business’s overall performance.
  2. Increased absenteeism: Often, these employees are more likely to take time off work, which can affect the business’s operations.
  3. High turnover: Burnt-out employees are more likely to leave their jobs, which can lead to high turnover rates and increased recruitment costs.
  4. Health problems: Those with high levels of burnout are at higher risk of developing physical and mental health problems, which can lead to increased healthcare costs for the business.

Solutions to employee burnout

Two colleagues smiling at each other in a workshop

Preventing employee burnout requires proactive measures from employers to promote a positive work environment and support their employees. Here are some solutions to employee burnout:

  1. Manage workload: Employers should ensure that employees have a manageable workload that allows them to complete their tasks without feeling overwhelmed. This can involve prioritising tasks, delegating responsibilities, and providing resources and support to help employees manage their workload effectively.
  2. Support employees: Employers should provide support to employees to help them cope with work-related stressors. This can include mentoring, coaching, counselling, or other support services that address the employee’s specific needs. Providing a supportive work environment can help employees feel valued, respected and motivated, which can reduce the risk of burnout.
  3. Promote work-life balance: Employers should encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This can include flexible working arrangements, paid time off, and wellness programs. Promoting work-life balance can help employees manage stress, maintain good physical and mental health, and achieve greater job satisfaction.
  4. Provide job security: Employers should provide employees with job security by communicating clearly about the company’s goals and plans. This can help reduce uncertainty and anxiety about job security, which can contribute to burnout.
  5. Set realistic expectations: Employers should set realistic goals and targets for employees, taking into account their skills and abilities. Unrealistic expectations can contribute to burnout, as employees may feel overwhelmed and demotivated when they are unable to meet expectations. By setting realistic goals, employers can help employees feel motivated, engaged, and productive.

Overall, preventing employee burnout requires a proactive approach from employers to create a supportive work environment, manage workload, promote work-life balance, provide job security, and set realistic expectations. By prioritising employee well-being and taking steps to prevent burnout, employers can improve the health, productivity, and engagement of their employees.

At ToHealth Ltd, we provide comprehensive employee health and wellbeing solutions to help businesses address the issue of burnout and improve the health and productivity of their employees.

Looking for more from ToHealth?

Looking to find out more about how we can support your workforce to be more neuroinclusive? Or interested in our huge variety of webinars and workshops on offer? ToHealth can support you with all of this and more.