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Are your employees stressed or experiencing burnout?

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By Leila Moss, Communications & Campaigns Manager at Ben

We wanted to raise awareness and offer general information to employers about stress and burnout in the workplace. As someone who has both experienced and witnessed burnout in the past, I’ve put together some guidance on how to spot the signs and offer support to your employees.

Signs of stress

Most of us will have experienced stress in the workplace, but, if it continues for prolonged periods without intervention, stress can become a bigger problem. So it’s important to be mindful of the key stress signs and then assess whether they become more acute, leading to burnout…

Signs of burnout

Burnout is a state of chronic stress (physical, emotional or mental exhaustion); it’s more than just ‘working too hard’. Burnout can lead to mental health conditions, so it’s important to spot the signs early. Researchers say burnout can be broken down into three parts:

  • Exhaustion or chronic fatigue, which can lead people to be more emotional and less resilient. This could take the form of:
    • Exhaustion
    • Insomnia
    • Becoming more easily upset or emotional
    • Forgetfulness or loss of concentration
    • Depression
    • Increased sickness due to lowered immunity
    • Change in appetite
  • Cynicism can mean that people feel alienated from their work and people they work with. They may:
    • Withdraw from their responsibilities
    • Isolate themselves from colleagues
    • Become pessimistic.
  • Inefficacy may mean that someone doesn’t believe in their ability to do their job properly. You may see:
    • An inability to ‘switch off’ from work
    • Lack of belief in ability and competence
    • Poor performance and lack of productivity
    • Increased irritability.

What causes workplace burnout?

APS Fellow and professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, Christina Maslach, has been studying burnout since the 1970s. Maslach and her collaborators came up with six components of the workplace environment that can contribute to burnout:

  1. Workload
  2. Control
  3. Reward
  4. Community
  5. Fairness
  6. Values

How can you help?

As a manager and / or employer, it’s part of your role to support employees during stressful times. Here are some suggestions on how to tackle stress and burnout in the workplace:

  • Assess the six areas above and evaluate whether there are any causes for concern within your organisation and team.
  • If the workload is too heavy, share the burden. Your employees will respect you if you get involved to help out. Is there anyone else in the team who can help during a particularly busy period or can you recruit some extra resource?
  • Make yourself available, listen and offer your help, advice and support if needed.
  • Be understanding and compassionate to the concerns and stresses of your employees.
  • Allow employees some time out from more stressful tasks and ensure they have time to do tasks they excel in and enjoy.
  • Encourage employees to have regular breaks to exercise or to just have some time away from their desks – and lead by example.
  • Stress and burnout has increased as we now work in an ‘always on’ environment, so let your employees know that they shouldn’t be replying to emails after a certain time of day or at weekends. Try to lead by example, because if you’re sending emails late at night or at weekends then your team may think they also need to.
  • Offer flexible working during stressful times, even if just for a short period of time. For example, if an employee has a long commute and a lot of work on, you could consider letting them work from home occasionally to give them more time back and reduce their daily stress.
  • Provide mental health tips and resources to your employees including articles on managing stress and burnout, what it is and how to recover.
  • If an employee’s situation seems serious, consult your HR team for advice and support on how to tackle it.
  • Contact us – we can support you as an employer, work with your HR team as well as directly supporting your employees. Additionally we can deliver mental health trainingto management and employees. If you need more information about how we can help you to support your people at ben.org.uk/ben4business. 

We’re here for your workforce

Ben exists to provide support for life to the people of the automotive industry and their family dependants. You can download our leaflet to print off and put on your noticeboard or leave in your staff room so colleagues are aware that we’re here to help them get back on track.

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