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Take care before burnout: keeping your staff healthy

Editorial feature

Implement self-care and wellness strategies to prevent your staff from accelerating towards exhaustion.

Buzzwords like ‘burnout’ and ‘self-care’ crept into the public consciousness pre-pandemic, and their importance and meaning have only intensified. Recognised by the World Health Organization as an ‘occupational phenomenon’, burnout refers to emotional and physical exhaustion brought on by work, busy parenting schedules, and the stresses of modern-day life. Feelings of tiredness, self-doubt and being overwhelmed are common in those experiencing burnout, which all have a detrimental impact on employee productivity. A recent survey by analytics site Visier found that 89% of employees experienced burnout over the past year. It also revealed that two-thirds of employees would leave their current role for one that offered comprehensive resources and benefits intended to reduce or prevent burnout. It’s wise for business owners to invest in support for staff to help them in their self-care, enabling them to avoid burnout and the feelings of hopelessness associated with it.

Implementing a culture of self-care in the workplace may seem daunting, but simple changes can make huge differences in the health and wellbeing of your staff. Valuing your employees’ ‘off’ time is an important place to start from. Discouraging them from eating their lunch at their desks, making sure they log off at the end of the working day and ensuring they don’t reply to emails out of office hours can make a huge difference to employee wellbeing. Businesses that work across multiple time zones will find that their employees work long into the night to communicate with colleagues in other regions, but this leads to employees never ‘switching off’ from their role, creating stress and building resentment towards their employer. 

Scheduling outdoor and movement time within the working day, perhaps by establishing and promoting a walking lunch, will also break up the working day and allow employees to escape the claustrophobia of the office. Changing the language used when approaching problems and situations can also be helpful in combating the toxic culture of immediacy that’s linked to burnout. Is a certain problem or request truly urgent? Does it need to be attended to instantly, or could your employee better manage their time and workday to prioritise each thing in turn? Expecting employees to drop their current task and attend to non-time sensitive requests from their superiors can be disruptive and contribute to increasing stress levels in the workforce.

Introducing wellness ‘check-in’s with staff can be a great way to monitor your employees’ mental wellbeing and to receive valuable feedback about what areas could be improved. Break-out sessions in mindfulness or yoga can also be helpful to keep staff engaged in self-care. Promoting the use of apps such as Headspace and 10% Happier will also encourage employees to take time out of work to look after themselves and their mental health. Allowing employees flexibility in their schedule to tend to their family, pets or attend to other important personal issues will also steer staff away from potential burnout.

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