Recent years have seen record highs of burnout among all professions. Naturally, healthcare workers are the most affected, with up to 72% of European physicians reporting symptoms of burnout, but over 60% of all workers in France report work-related health issues. Employers should be aware of the signs, symptoms, and solutions for stress.

What is Burnout?

The term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s, and was initially described as affecting those in the profession of helping others: doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare workers report extreme exhaustion, lethargy, and listlessness. Today, we notice the symptoms of burnout in almost every industry. Generally speaking, burnout is a state of emotional and mental exhaustion brought about by severe prolonged or repeated stress. It is most often associated with work-related stress, but people can experience burnout due to school stress, relationship stress, or other issues.

The most common symptoms of burnout include:

  • Exhaustion. People with burnout feel tired, listless, and low-energy, even when they have had sufficient sleep.
  • Physical discomfort. Stomach and digestive issues, headaches, dizziness, or other physical symptoms often accompany burnout 
  • Alienation. People with burnout typically feel isolated and alienated, as though they are facing these challenges alone. In severe cases, this can become depersonalization, where a person feels as though the world is dreamlike and unreal, and they move through it on “autopilot”.
  • Dread. People with burnout often experience extreme anxiety or dread related to work or work-related tasks
  • Reduced performance. Naturally, these symptoms increase absenteeism and reduce work performance. A worker who is tired is not in a position to perform at their best. 

It’s important to note that symptoms of burnout may be influenced by culture and background, and that they are often very similar to the symptoms of severe depression. As a rule, the difference between burnout and depression is that burnout symptoms are specifically associated with the source of stress: a worker with burnout may recover their energy and connectedness on the weekends or on vacation, for example. 

How Employers Can Reduce Burnout and Protect the Workforce

While some professions (like healthcare) are simply high-stress by nature, employers can take steps to prevent burnout. Even in the most stressful industries, company policies can help to prevent burnout and keep employees at high performance with healthy working. Here are the three best ways to prevent burnout in the workplace: 

  1. Protect work/life balance. Work/life balance isn’t just about vacation packages. Enacting policies that prevent employees from being contacted by work during their off hours, enabling frequent breaks during the workday, and creating flexible scheduling systems allow employees to achieve better work/life balance and de-stress naturally.
  2. Build engagement at work. Fostering the emotional engagement of employees helps them to build a support system and develop more resilience. Team-building activities, cross-training programs, and employee-driven initiatives and solutions all help to deepen engagement and avoid detachment. 
  3. Offer targeted interventions. Smart employers prevent burnout before it happens. Training supervisors to spot the signs of burnout, and offering solutions like therapy and mental health support, vacation or work leave, or other targeted interventions can help specific employees with their stress. 

Employers can offer a range of effective solutions that prevent burnout before it begins. Company leaders should open compassionate conversations about workplace stress, and ensure that employees feel safe and comfortable bringing up their concerns. 

Burnout causes high turnover in industries and among workers who are especially trained, effective, and important to the company’s success. When employers don’t take steps to guard the health of their team members, they risk losing them altogether. For more insights about healthy working and how company culture influences retention and recruitment, contact Grapefrute today.