The ways burnout manifests itself can range drastically – for some, its aggressive behaviour at work, for others, it’s downing a few extra wines at home. No matter what the signs, the results are the same. And as one expert warns, there can be a fine line between extreme stresses turning into clinical depression.
“It’s a fine line between stress and dropping into something that could be defined clinically as depression,” Stephanie Thompson of Insight Matters said. In addition, Hay Group’s Steve Ewin added that the result of ignoring employees’ needs as pretty clear: “As things start to pick up more generally, employees will exercise their right to vote,” he said. “In other words, they’ll leave.”
And the numbers don’t lie. Employees are burning out due to a lack of work-life balance, and many are looking to jump ship. Hay Group’s research shows more than one in four employees at organisations who are failing to allow work-life balances are planning to leave, finding the amount of work unacceptable.
Some remedies are more obvious than others. “There seems to be a big resistance to hiring people,” Ewin said, stressing this needs to change. “It’s been a while now where we’ve been expecting individuals and teams to do more for less, and people are reaching a breaking point.”
Ewin added that some businesses may also wish to offer greater remuneration, but just showing a bit of gratitude goes a long way. “It doesn’t cost anything to say thanks, especially when it’s genuine,” Ewin said, believing that just feeling appreciated can help an employee de-stress.
While an elementary way to achieve balance is giving employees more methods of working from home, the same technologies that allow this may be fostering an unhealthy attitude amongst managers who are blurring the line between work and life in the wrong direction.
“A lot of people carry their work with them 24/7. The culture has changed to where people think nothing of calling a person after-hours or whilst they are on leave,” Robyn McNeill of beatingburnout.com.au said. While shooting off a quick email is sometimes necessary, Ewin feels expecting your staff to answer them late at night needs to change.
It is no secret that the stress, anxiety and frustration of work can take its toll on even the most carefree of employees and lead to burnout. What is surprising however, is the negative impact new technologies may be having, and that the solution lies in getting back to nature.
Whilst allowing employees to work from home certainly isn’t a bad way to go, creating a homely environment at work might be a better alternative. “We have started planning to build more green spaces around our business,” Jessica Millard of Husqvarna told HC. She said recent reports have shown more than 50% of employees are finding more green spaces in or around work to be increasing their quality of life.
Allowing your employees to take their breaks is a no-brainer, but it goes further than a cup of coffee. Millard stated that while it is the employee’s responsibility to take themselves away from their desk – with or without a coffee in hand – managers need to create an environment where this is possible. Even just scattering a few plants around the place can help, but if you can encourage your staff to take a stroll in the nearby park on their break, or even invest in work-place gardens, then this is definitely the greater option. “It’s creating a space that’s away from the centre of activity. They actually have to step away and into a different place.”