Burnout....a workplace epidemic
At Untapped.ai we have noticed something drastic going on. Recently, our platform has seen an increase of up to 35% in pre burnout in workers. Whether people are WFH or in an office, pre-burnout is characterised as a consistent feeling of being overwhelmed.
Our experience has shown us that the most effective point of intervention, the time to offer help and support to those heading towards full burnout, is when they start talking about feeling anxious and being overwhelmed as a central part of their working experience. This is the time that organisations need to act.
In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified burnout as a workplace phenomenon, BUT they failed to recognise it as a medical condition. This meant that companies potentially had a get out clause for taking responsibility for the burnout suffered by their employees. Thankfully, at Untapped.ai, we do not believe this will remain the case, as changes wrought by global uncertainties - Covid-19, Black Lives Matter and Climate Change are making activists of us all and employee activism is on an upward trajectory.
Mental health at work is increasingly significant, and certain countries, like France, are pioneering laws for ‘the right to disconnect’. These legislations give employees (in companies with over 50 workers) the right to negotiate a disconnect time from tech and not to be penalised. There is a realisation that the need to not always ‘be online’ should be explicit and a commitment for workers to enjoy leisure and family time away from work is crucial. The aim is to establish better mental health and productivity at work.
After all, if the fundamental issues of burnout are not addressed, they will add to the continuing haemorrhaging of people in the Great Resignation. And yet, burnout is a price some companies are willing to literally pay! BBC Legalcheek But increased wages will never be enough to maintain the boundaries needed to prevent burnout and establish resilience. Yes, people want to work hard, yes, they want to be rewarded but they also want time for other aspects of life that help them feel valued and fulfilled. They want purpose and meaning in their life and work.
Can old dogs learn new tricks? Are individuals moving faster than their organisations?
Can we all learn something from the newer generation of workers?
GenZ are much clearer about their boundaries and how they want to run their lives - and they are less in awe of conventional structures. And the research shows they are feeling confident enough to ask for help. The public profiles of celebrities, such as Prince Harry, Lady Gaga, Russell Brand, Barack Obama, Simone Biles, helps destigmatize mental health issues - a game-changer for us all.
Hybrid Working Our Untapped AI programme privileges us to be alongside people and the many difficult experiences they have when returning to the office. We support and encourage them to tackle difficult conversations at the pre burnout stage with their organisations - if they don't engage in this process, the latest research shows that 40% become part of the 'great resignation’. After Burnout No less than 65% of people on our Untapped AI platform with full burnout go on to leave and change their careers. But one of the more empowering factors of going through burnout is that people are forced to be very realistic about their boundaries and capacities. That 'hard won' realism means they create their own boundaries and are okay with keeping to them. This emerges from the 'bone-deep confidence' and humility that comes from knowing what happens if they don't. To prevent burnout, companies should put their efforts into:
Giving people the flexibility to integrate their professional and personal lives post-pandemic. Unexpectedly, Covid-19 has given us all the time to recalibrate our values and decide what is important to us. Companies need to evolve new ways of working that take this into account or they risk a mass exodus of valued skilled workers through burnout and disenchantment. It is not enough to attempt to show empathy through a mass email, or a week off.
Growing, building and investing in ‘Self-aware Leaders’. These figureheads are a crucial means for mental health support to be truly integrated into the lifeblood of an organisation. The Self-aware Leader will create space and invite difficult conversations around mental health and its impact on people. It is a tough process and these Leaders need help. We know from our platform that when Leaders take on this responsibility and when it's done well, the levels of stress, anxiety and potential burnout dramatically decrease.