The World Health Authority now classes ‘burnout’ as a recognised, chronic health condition. This has highlighted a truth that many workers in the UK already know to be true. We are working ourselves far beyond our ability to cope, and it is taking a terrible toll on people’s lives.
Burnout is not about all forms of stress. It is about work related stress, a phenomenon that is rising to an alarming level in the 21st Century. Workplace stress affects all aspects of a person’s life. Health, relationships, resilience, finances and wellbeing are all adversely affected by burnout. And, in a cruel irony, this stress takes a toll on a person’s ability to perform well in their job. This, of course, compounds the stress.
The stress response exists to keep us safe from predators, and to enable us to escape from life threatening situations. It is a function of the most primitive, animal aspect of our being. It has no connection to the logical, more evolved human brain that we rely on for creative problem solving, empathy, effective communication and other skills we need in the workplace.
When the stress response, the flight or fight pattern of the nervous system is triggered, the logical, reasoning parts of the brain ‘switch off’ as the animal instincts kick in.
If you are faced with threat to your life, you don’t need to spend valuable seconds working out the pros and cons of your response. You need to either fight or run away.
The stress response is the reason we have survived this long as a species. While our technology and lives have evolved and changed at a very fast rate, our brains haven’t. They are still being run by the same nervous system that helped our ancestors survive sabre toothed tigers in their midst.
The stress response is designed to be a short-lived response to a given situation. The situation happens, you either defeat the threat or you are killed by it. If you escape, you will relax and your mind and body return to equilibrium not long after.
Sadly, while most of us don’t face real threats to our lives in our daily life, we are running at a dangerously high level of stress.
Much of this stress comes from the workplace. The pressures of work are placing workers under intolerable levels of stress for much if not all of their day. We are not meant to run on the flight or fight response, but many of us are. When you are that stressed for so long, it can lead to chronic health problems such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, stroke, to name but a few. Stress also takes a devastating toll on mental health.
Stress in the workplace takes an unsustainable toll on the business. Employee stress comes at a very real price for employers. Work-related stress accounts for around 49% of all sick days taken, with 59% of all employees reporting that work causes them stress. This is estimated to cost UK businesses between £33 and £44 billion each year. Presenteeism, being in work but not capable of working at one’s best, represents a significant portion of this.
Stressed people cannot function at their best. Vital work skills, including creativity, problem solving, empathy, team work, customer service and productivity more are all adversely affected by stress.
Even the most dedicated and loyal team member cannot work to their best if they are stressed to the point of burnout.
Fortunately, there are many things that can you can do to help your staff reduce and manage stress in their work. Doing so will help them and help your company. Research from Deloitte shows that investing in workplace wellbeing programmes can offer a ROI up to 9:1, with an average ROI of 4.2:1. So it is well worth looking at what you can do to improve wellbeing for your employees.
mental health and stress awareness training for line managers to spot and intervene when staff are experiencing mental health
- providing First Aid for Mental Health for managers and teams
working on the culture of the organisation as a whole
providing stress awareness and reduction training for staff
supporting staff to improve their health and wellbeing
ensuring that company leaders are effective role models for wellbeing
can all make a significant difference. With effective wellbeing strategies in place, you can reduce work related stress, improve productivity and increase morale across the company as a whole.
At Lotus Strength Consulting, we can help. We offer solutions to reduce, mitigate and manage the impact stress has on your staff and your company’s performance. We know that the health of your company as a whole depends on the health of your staff, and we want to help you improve both.
Take our PACER test, to see which area of your organisation could be improved for staff wellbeing. The test is totally free, and you will get a personalised report in your inbox along with an invitation to a complimentary consultation.