Employee burnout costs the global economy US$300 billion annually. Jo Surkitt and Fiona Elliott show you how to solve the problem and ensure the long-term success of your business.
Beating Burnout: Solving Australia’s $12million Problem
Australia remains one of the few countries where employees prioritise their work-life balance over career progression and earning potential¹. In short, quality of life is important to us; and pushing employees too hard will result in high turnover, low productivity, poor engagement and – yep, you guessed it – burnout. Whether you have your own small business or work in a large organization.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a recognised psychological condition caused by chronic stress. People experiencing burnout typically feel helpless, disillusioned, and unhappy². The longer it continues, the less motivated, engaged, and productive employees become³.
The Impact of Burnout
Burnout costs the global economy US$300 billion a year⁴. That’s a substantial sum, and here in Australia, we contribute significantly towards it.
In 2015, absenteeism and low work engagement – both common symptoms of burnout – cost the Australian economy an estimated $12 million. Which means, if your business employs between 100 and 1,000 people, burnout could be costing you as much as $100,000 a year⁵.
What Causes Burnout?
We all have different tolerances and, as with many health disorders, burnout affects individuals differently. A highly sensitive person (HSPs), for instance, might suffer burnout in an environment others can manage easily. Broadly speaking, there are a number of situations which have been shown to regularly result in burnout⁶. They include:
- Misaligned Values: Individuals who are pursuing a career at odds with their personal beliefs or values.
- Overload: Employees who are pressured to compensate for understaffing or poor performance by colleagues.
- No Control: Staff who lack autonomy in their work, are micromanaged, or who recognise but have no authority to correct procedural inefficiencies.
- Social Breakdowns: Corporate cultures that lack team spirit, where employees are unable to relate to one another or forced to compete.
Don’t confuse burnout with stress. Individuals under stress know that it is temporary; they still have control and are committed to meeting their targets. By contrast, those suffering from burnout are beyond caring. They are exhausted both mentally and emotionally, disengaged from their work, and often struggle to think creatively and identify solutions².
Performance is one of the biggest indicators of burnout, and there are four tell-tale signs⁶ that an individual is suffering:
1. Reduced Productivity
Increased absenteeism is common in burned out employees, but you are more likely to see presentissim, where individuals are at work but fail to function properly.
2. Reduced Work Quality
Individuals who are not invested in the outcome of a project simply won’t perform at their best.
If you’ve recently joined the team or are managing a new hire, then recognising a burned out, disengaged employee from a bog-standard, disengaged employee is all but impossible. Those suffering from burnout will be uncharacteristically quiet. They usually stop participating in meetings and often exclude themselves from team activities.
4. Poor Attitude
Again, spotting the naturally cynical employee from the burned out cynicist requires judgement and some knowledge of the individual. If ordinarily positive workers start to complain openly and voice unwarranted negative opinions, then it might be time to consider they may be heading towards burnout.
Preventing and Treating Employee Burnout
Burnout is a recognised mental health condition; it takes more than a week on the beach or a good night’s sleep to address it. Employers and employees need coping mechanisms, individual coaching, and stress management techniques to regain their positive outlook, manage their workload, and recover productivity. The same is true for those heading for burnout, many of whom can avoid it altogether by recognising unhealthy patterns of behaviour and adjusting their lifestyle accordingly.
A great answer to Burn Out and it’s new and exclusive to Victoria.
That’s where Sustain Vitality Retreats come in. Offering executives at all levels a 48-hour haven from the pressures of the corporate world, these luxury 4* wellness and inspirational retreats are designed to provide individuals with the tools they need to achieve a fulfilling work-life balance. Guests get a wonderful balance of rest, relaxation and learn a range of innovative and beneficial tools and techniques to assist in rejuvenating yourself as well as maintaining an ongoing healthy work/life integration. The weekend showcases a range of programs and sessions around Wellness, Yoga, Meditation, Qi Gong, Healthy Mind & Body and so much more, along with free time to swim, walk, exercise, reflect and relax.
These relaxing breaks in the Geelong region are guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on anything the working week can throw at you. Reward your team, grab a friend or colleague, or book in alone and discover a healthier way to excel at work and home. Don’t miss your chance to take a well earned break, head to www.sustainvitality.com.au for full details.
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¹The Global Recruiter, 2015. Burnout Warning: discretionary effort falls among Australian workers. GR.
²Smith et al., 2016. Burnout prevention and recovery. HelpGuide.org
³Kwang and Kim, 2009. The study on the effect of organisational member’s job burnout. Journal of Business and Economics Research. 7 (7).
⁴Bretland and Thorenstien, 2015. Reducing workplace burnout, the relative benefits of cardiovascular and resistance exercise. (Abstract). PeerJ.
⁵Lang, 2015. Opinion: the hidden cost of emotional burnout in the workplace.The Courier Mail.
⁶Pillay, 2015. How to protect your employees from burnout. Fast Company.