Employee burnout in 2020

2020 has been a difficult year for many employees due to continued COVID-19 restrictions, home working and concerns about job security. Now with the combined stress of the cold weather and another national lockdown, there is an increased risk of employee burnout.

In some cases, employees have simply not taken enough time off since the start of the pandemic to restore and recharge effectively. As many summer plans were cancelled, some have not taken time off since Christmas 2019. Of course, this is all going to have a tremendous impact on employee wellbeing and mental health. Ultimately leading to burnout. Fortunately, by taking appropriate actions, employees can reduce the risk of burnout and can stay productive and motivated at work.

What is employee burnout?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Employee burnout is a specific sort of stress related to a person's job. It can generate feelings of physical or emotional enervation that also leads to feelings of decreased ability and reduced personal identity.

Employees that are struggling with burnout will often feel out of sorts at work, often tired and disengaged. The consequences of employee burnout for a business can often be severe. Productivity decreases while absenteeism increases. However, for the individual work-related stress and burnout can often greatly impact mental and physical health. If employee burnout is left unaddressed it can lead to an individual also struggling to function in other aspects of their daily life.

The risk of employee burnout is particularly relevant during the pandemic as recent research shows that 87% of employees feel more pressured to keep productivity levels high in the hope to demonstrate to employers that the flexibility of home working is something that should continue post-COVID. This study also determined that 36% of employees felt that COVID-19 had negatively impacted their mental health as a result of working longer hours during lockdown.

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Symptoms of burnout

According to Verywell Mind, there are many common signs that an employee is heading towards burnout:

  • Detachment from work: Individuals suffering from burnout see their work as increasingly stressful and frustrating. Many begin to lack enthusiasm about their work and can grow cynical about the working environment. They may emotionally distance themselves and withdraw from interactions with their colleagues.
  • Physical symptoms: Severe stress can lead to employees becoming physically unwell and suffering from headaches and nausea or intestinal issues.
  • Emotional exhaustion: Burnout causes people to feel drained, incapable and tired. Often leaving people struggling to have the energy to complete work.
  • Reduced performance: Burnout mostly affects everyday tasks. Individuals battle to concentrate and often do not have the same creativity as normal. 

Tips for avoiding burnout

There are many things that employees can do to avoid burnout especially during COVID-19:

Perform a Job Analysis

When employees feel they are overworked, they can begin to feel as if they are on a treadmill and no matter how hard they try; they are unable to catch up. This feeling is often overwhelming and stressful. Ultimately, leading to burnout.

Performing a regular job analysis means you can clarify what is expected of you and what isn’t. This will help to identify priorities so you can easily cut out or delegate tasks that aren’t as essential.

If you feel that your employer is assigning more work than you can handle, schedule a meeting to express your concerns. Most of the time, your employer will be completely unaware of the issue and will prioritise your mental health.

Take Control

Speak to your employer about introducing more autonomy in your tasks, deadlines and projects. You’ll feel as if you have more control over your role and therefore be able to manage your time more effectively.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a great way to alleviate stress and create a sense of physical and mental wellbeing. Find a time that suits you and an activity that you enjoy, even something as simple of going for a walk on your lunch break.

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Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your wellbeing and is pivotal in avoiding burnout. Sleep allows our bodies to rest and reset.

The Doctors Clinic Group offers corporate sleep screens which improve the health & productivity of employees. Our medical experts monitor sleep patterns and provide advice on how to get a better night's sleep.

Eat a balanced diet

According to the NHS, eating a healthy and balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health and keeping you fit and happy.

Eat a wide variety of food groups in the right proportions. Make sure to include omega-3 fatty acids as these can act as a natural antidepressant. Adding foods like flaxseed oil, walnuts and fruit may help with giving that much-needed mood boost.

Ask for help

During stressful times, especially during COVID-19, It’s important to ask for help if you need it. Talk to your colleagues, family, friends or anyone you feel comfortable with. You’ll be surprised how this can help avoid burnout at work.

How can The Doctors Clinic Group help?

The Doctors Clinic Group offers many mental health supports and services for employees including:

  • Same-day GP appointments – all GPs have mental health training
  • Rapid referrals to our consultant psychiatrist and other specialists covered by all major PMI insurers
  • Mental health wellbeing questionnaire for a company-wide benchmarking exercise
  • Wellbeing workshops and webinars
  • Mental health first aid training

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