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Preventing Burnout – Good for Employees, Good for Business

Preventing Burnout - image of happy colleagues chatting on a staircase

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It can lead to significant mental and physical consequences that are concerning for employees and employers alike. According to a Gallup poll, employees who experience high levels of burnout are “63% more likely to take a sick day, 13% less confident in their performance, and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.” Thus, the consequences of burnout, while unpleasant and potentially harmful to individuals, can be quite costly to their employers as well. So, let’s explore effective strategies and resources for preventing burnout, fostering resilience, and achieving a healthy work-life balance.

All stress is not the same. Some stress can be good, exciting, and even motivating, like a job interview or competing in a sport. Other stress is bad, though short term, and relatively easy to bounce back from, like failing to receive a job promotion. But it is the gradual and repeated, chronic, negative stressors that, when left unchecked, can lead to a state of burnout marked by symptoms like feeling overwhelmed, worn out, drained, and eventually lacking motivation to perform. These feelings can lead to low self-esteem, isolation, withdrawal, and can attack immunity, and cause frequent illness. Though not a formal diagnosis, burnout can have a devastating impact on emotional well-being, physical health, and productivity and, thus, has become an issue deserving of serious attention both in the workplace and at home.

Given the variety of undesirable consequences of burnout, the most effective treatment is to prevent it before it starts. The good news is that burnout is indeed preventable.

Of course, it is essential that individuals take ownership of their own health and well-being and paying attention to their levels of stress is a good place to start. As part of a burnout prevention regimen, suggests the following tips:

  • Turn to other people for support
  • Reframe the way you look at work
  • Reevaluate your priorities
  • Make exercise a priority
  • Support your mood and energy levels with a healthy diet

In addition, Christina Maslach, a social psychologist and prominent worker burnout expert, says that burnout strategies will not “ever be successful if they place all the onus on the worker.” She suggests 6 key areas companies can focus on to help prevent burnout in their workforce:

  • Creating manageable workloads
  • Giving employees control over their jobs, to the extent possible
  • Rewarding and acknowledging good work, either financially or verbally
  • Fostering community
  • Treating workers fairly and equitably
  • Helping workers find value in their work

Whether the source of your stress is at work or home, Employee Assistance Programs can be a great resource for preventing and dealing with burnout. At CMG Associates, members can call toll-free 24/7 for an assessment and in-the-moment support and to develop a plan of action that addresses symptoms of stress and burnout. Additionally, managers and HR professionals can reach out for training on how to create an emotionally healthy workplace culture or for consultation about an employee who may be struggling.  

Whatever approach is right for you, employees and employers doing their part to prevent burnout can have a real impact both on the emotional and physical well-being of employees, and on the company’s bottom line. Contact us today to learn how we can help prevent burnout and foster a healthy work-life balance.

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