How to reduce the risk of burnout

Published 30 May 2023 | 2 min read

Overcoming Workload Expectations

Imagine feeling constantly exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally drained. Each day feels like a never-ending cycle of work responsibilities and the pressure to always remain connected. This was the reality for many New Zealanders who have experienced burnout. The impact of workload expectations and the need to be online at all times has taken a toll on the mental health of employees across the country.

According to a report by Unispace, the expectation to always be online, even outside of normal working hours, is driving burnout for 39% of respondents. This pressure is closely followed by the demands of workload expectations, which have caused burnout for 50% of individuals surveyed. Alarmingly, a staggering 70% of Kiwis have experienced burnout, surpassing the global average of 59%. The struggle to adapt to hybrid working arrangements has intensified the challenges faced by both employers and employees.

Apart from the burden of workload and after-hours connectivity, research suggests that financial stress has also had a detrimental impact on mental health. The quarterly ELMO Employee Sentiment Index revealed that financial stress affects the mental health of 57% of workers, physical health of 46%, and productivity of 34%. This sheds light on the multifaceted nature of burnout, highlighting the need for a holistic approach to address its underlying causes.

Recognizing the urgency of addressing burnout, it becomes clear that implementing effective strategies can lead to numerous benefits for both employers and employees. By prioritizing work-life balance and reducing burnout, companies can enhance employee well-being, engagement, and overall productivity. Additionally, a healthier work environment can foster creativity, innovation, and employee retention, ultimately contributing to long-term organisational success.

Navigating Toward a Positive Future

  1. Establish Clear Policies: Employers should develop clear policies and guidelines around after-hours work, such as limiting emails and phone calls during non-working hours. By setting boundaries, employees can disconnect and recharge, promoting a healthier work-life balance.
  2. Cultivate a Culture of Boundaries: Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable setting boundaries and prioritising personal time. Lead by example and demonstrate healthy work boundaries, encouraging employees to do the same.
  3. Encourage Time Off: Employees should be encouraged to unplug from work when they are off the clock. It is essential for employers to promote the utilization of annual leave entitlements, allowing individuals to recharge and rejuvenate.
  4. Provide Workload Management Training: Offer training programs that educate employees on the importance of work-life balance and effective workload management. Equipping individuals with the necessary skills to manage their responsibilities can alleviate stress and prevent burnout.
  5. Support Mental Health: Implement employee assistance programs and mental health initiatives to support individuals struggling with burnout. Encourage open communication, destigmatise mental health issues, and provide resources for seeking professional help when needed.

As employers and employees work together to reduce the risk of burnout, the path toward a healthier and more fulfilling work experience can be paved. By prioritising well-being and establishing a supportive work environment, New Zealand can reclaim a better work-life balance for its workforce. Remember, addressing burnout is not just a responsibility; it is an investment in the success and happiness of everyone involved.

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