Too much pressure at work can often lead to burnout. So, what is the link between work stress and health? Read on to find out more about how to cope.
Workplace burn out has been a hot topic in recent years. As more and more of the workforce feels pressured to perform on all the time, there is a growing concern about how this affects employees. With over 60% of all workers reporting to be in burnout mode at least some of the time, it is important for employers to understand how work stress and health affect each other.
But what is workplace burn out and how can employers combat it? Thankfully, the WHO (The World Health Organization) and a growing number of researchers have come up with some key identifiers and ways employers can lower the levels of burnout at work. So, let’s take a look at how to recognize workplace burnout and ways to counteract it.
What Is Burnout
While there may be no universal consensus on the symptoms of burnout, there are a few key indicators that can help managers and employees spot it before it becomes too serious.
- Loss of Interest in Work and Work Relates Activities
Have once engaged employees become cynical about their work and colleagues? Have you heard them complain about increasing stress and frustration about their job? This person may be experiencing burnout.
- Physical Symptoms
Because people with burnout are under a lot of stress, they tend to experience several different physical ailments. These are typically headaches and intestinal issues like stomach aches and intestinal issues. There can also be a decrease in the immune system leading them to get colds and the flu more often.
- Emotional Exhaustion
Burnout causes people to feel drained and lethargic. So, if a co-worker or employee regularly complains of feeling tired and unable to cope, look for other signs from this list of work stress and health issues.
- Poor Performance
Has a previous superstar on your team seemed to switch to autopilot and are unable to concentrate on even their most basic work tasks? Have they lost that creative spark they once had when it came to projects? This is actually one of the biggest signs they are burning out.
While there may be other symptoms as well, these are the four most common ones to be on the lookout for.
What Leads to Burnout
Interestingly, it isn’t just having a high-stress job that leads to burnout. In fact, if workplace-related stress is managed well, there can be little to no ill effects at all. So, what are some of the leading factors in workplace stress?
- Unreasonable Time Requirements
People who claim to have enough time to finish their work reported to feel far less stress and had lower rates of burnout than those working in time-sensitive jobs like EMTs and firefighters.
- Lack of Managerial Support
Managers are supposed to help act as a buffer against stress. When they do a good job, there is less dissatisfaction from employees; when they don’t employees feel burnt-out. There is a reason why we have the saying “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”.
- Lack of Role Clarity
With more than 40% of workers claiming to have no clear idea of what is expected of them, it is no wonder there is so much work-related stress. If you are constantly having to guess what they are supposed to be doing and how performance is rated, it can be exhausting.
- Unmanageable Workload
This one ties in with #1. If workers have too much work and not enough time to do it in, even the most enthusiastic worker will get overwhelmed and stressed out.
How to Combat Burnout
Even though the term burnout seems to imply a permanent condition, it can be reversible. Here are a few ways to counteract the effects and create a healthier work environment. The first and most important step in combating workplace burnout is to recognize it is happening. This can be difficult because a lot of time extreme workplace stress feels normal. However, if you have been feeling any of the above symptoms for more than a few weeks and feel like it is never going to get better, that is probably burnout.
Once you have identified the problem, go to a supervisor, as long as you feel like they are supportive and open, or to HR. As workplace burnout becomes a more widely recognized issue facing employers, more and more are looking for ways to encourage mental wellness in the workplace. This can be anything from allowing more work from home days to after-hours get-togethers meant to create a sense of community.
Also, sometimes a change in position or a decrease in responsibilities can help too. If that isn’t possible, see if there is a way to more evenly distribute the workload across team members or even possibly to recruit a few more.
There are also things you can do as part of your self-care routine to keep your work stress and health in check. Getting enough sleep, eating right, taking regular vacations and mental health days, and getting enough physical exercise can all be great ways to keep you from burning out.
Since we spend so much of our lives at work, it is important to learn how to manage any work stress and health concerns before they become serious. While it simply isn’t realistic to expect to have a completely stress free work environment, after all, there will always be those days, it is important to talk to someone if you are starting to feel overwhelmed by work. For more insights on how to make sure you have a healthy work/life balance for your startup or scaleup, check out the rest of our blog. It is chalked full of ideas to help you keep your employee’s burnout free.