John Conaghan: Occupational burnout is a hazard that can be fixed

The increasingly blurred lines between work and home have resulted in people burning out
John Conaghan

AS we reflect on another year of workplaces shifting, with many either still working from home or trying to find the rhythm on hybrid working, there are still clear challenges for both employees and employers. The issues posed by Covid-19 have impacted on us all including in the workplace which for many become kitchen tables and spare bedrooms.

The increasingly blurred lines between work and home have resulted in people burning out which the World Health Organisation has defined as ‘a syndrome conceptualised from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’ I have no doubt this description will resonate with many.

Burnouts occur when we become overwhelmed with stress, both in our working and personal lives, when we cannot seem to escape the all-consuming sense of burden and worry. It can be caused by a variety of reasons, including too many responsibilities or excessive workload. The pandemic has only exacerbated factors leading to burnout, and it is important that people are aware of this and act to reduce the effect.

To ensure the positive wellbeing of staff, Inspire Workplaces believe it is vital that employers and employees can spot the signs of a burnout, and act to ensure staff can take a break and feel supported within their workplace which ultimately diminishes the chances of further burnouts occurring.

Some helpful tips to prevent burnout include;

:: Root out the problem – take a moment and reflect on what is troubling you.

:: Take care of yourself – simple steps like exercise and a healthy diet can have a big impact on mental wellbeing and stress levels.

:: Reach out to other people – meaningful conversations work well to help us feel supported.

:: Change the way you view your job – seeing purposeful action in what you do can change your outlook on you job, and in turn create a positive mindset.

:: Remember to prioritise yourself – by taking time for yourself, and separating that work-life balance, you are giving your head space to breath and calm to set in.

At Inspire Workplaces, we look to champion those workplaces who value and look out for employee wellbeing. We provide online resources giving advice on how best to deal with workplace stress and guidance for employers on how to support employees wellbeing.

This week, we will celebrate employers through our Workplace Wellbeing Awards, as we mark those who go above and beyond for employee wellbeing and ensure that mental health is as importance as physical health in the workplace.

The awards are a further opportunity for Inspire to encourage other employers to look into how best to encourage workplace wellbeing. Through dedicated mental health and wellbeing programmes which include counselling and talking therapies, employers can help contribute towards the positive emotional wellbeing of their team, which in turn can help to nurture and develop employees and create happier and more productive workplaces.

This is not only possible but necessary. Organisations across Northern Ireland are already committed to the wellbeing of their staff and have been delivering excellent health and wellbeing programmes to deliver on this commitment rather than paying lip service to it. This is the embodiment of ‘we are all in this together’ and this must continue.

:: John Conaghan is group director of professional services at mental health charity Inspire Wellbeing.

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