Burnout; the workplace epidemic. Part 3: Stress management at work

We will explore management tools for both prevention and cure of this chronic stress-induced condition.

Welcome to the third and final part of our blog series on burnout.

Today we will explore management tools for both prevention and cure of this chronic stress-induced condition.

Protective and motivational resources

Workers have an expectation of what they are going to get from the workplace.  A strong driver of burnout is when there is a big disconnect in certain areas, for example workload, financial reward, collegial relationships and working conditions.  It is far less likely to occur in people who really enjoy what they do, have a good work-life balance and healthy relationships with their colleagues/boss.

Protective features of the work environment include;

• Having a supportive leader and high quality relationships with colleagues

• Organisational fairness

• Getting feedback on a regular basis

• Taking time to interact with people at work who you like

• Value systems that align with the individual

• Opportunities for wellness initiatives at work

• Feeling valued and significant in the workplace

Employee Responsibilty

It now falls on the employer as a duty of care to take due precautions to avoid burnout in their employees, as it is a recognised workplace hazard. Workplaces need to look at how they are contributing to the problem of burnout from a culture perspective and a values standpoint.

They can do this with the following key principles in mind;

  1. Mission and value statements in alignment with employee belief systems
  2. Providing a supportive environment where employees feel able to work effectively
  3. Having a culture of caring for one another
  4. Ensuring positive and productive interpersonal dynamics between colleagues
  5. Having protocols in place and appropriate guidance for problem - solving
  6. Hiring employees for appropriate roles
  7. Ensuring appropriate rewards - both financial and emotional - for staff
  8. Strict policies on fairness and discrimination
  9. Social events
  10. Providing medical and psychological support schemes to employees

Here at Edison, we run corporate Mindfulness courses to improve mental resilience and precision medicine protocols to target individual employee and executive health and wellbeing, therefore reducing absenteeism from stress and sickness, increasing workforce satisfaction, productivity, longevity and overall happiness and good mental health.

Treatment options

There is no set treatment course for burnout. Many people find it helpful to leave their workplace either temporarily or permanently. However, others find it possible – through proactive decision making and/or with therapeutic support – to alter their work environment and their attitudes to it, in ways that remove or reduce the factors responsible for causing burnout.

Rest and recovery are paramount to restore the balance lost.

They can also manage their symptoms by doing an ‘energy audit’.

Eg how do you feel when you undertake certain activities?

How do you feel when you interact with certain people?

Then cut back on the actions that drain you and leave you feeling depleted

Another good method is to train your brain and reframe your thoughts.

The punitive voice is the one that tells you “you’re not good enough, you can’t handle this, it’s too much for you”.

Ask yourself what’s the factual evidence for and against this thought?

Is it true? Is it REALLY true?

This is a great technique for all unproductive/self - critical thoughts that are disempowering and self - limiting in nature.

What are the signs of recovery from burnout?

People will be able to approach their work with less aversion and anxiety when they have developed new coping strategies for ensuring that their work does not impact negatively on their quality of life. They may appear happier and more relaxed at home and at work, have renewed creativity and feel able to take on new projects again, instead of feeling overwhelmed and over burdened. They can work with their employer, therapist or doctor to make a collaborative plan for recovery from their burnout, and slowly reverse their symptoms of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.

When this happens, they will develop a more positive attitude to their job and working environment again; - the situation becomes reframed.

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