As we approached National Stress Awareness Day on November 3rd, American workers—overwhelmed by work, lack of sleep, societal and economic issues, loss and the uncertainty of what lies ahead—reported burnout at epidemic proportions. A new report by Limeade found that 28% of employees are so burned out that they are leaving jobs without a new role lined up. Study after study shows stress and burnout continuing to escalate at astronomical rates due to the pandemic and remote working.
The Latest Findings On Burnout
All Points North (APN) Lodge, a personal development and wellness provider specializing in mental health, trauma and addiction treatment, surveyed 1,000 American adult consumers across generations. Their findings revealed that more than half of Americans (54%) are seeking help to cope with trauma due to the pandemic.
On October 28th of this year, MindEdge Learning and HR Certification Institute (HRCI) jointly released a study of 1,000 HR Professionals across the United States. The survey found that 80% of HR professionals reported increased staff burnout during the pandemic, with 37% citing a major increase.
An American Psychiatric Association poll also revealed worker mental health might be getting worse than better. Only one in five employees reported that their employer has offered additional mental health services since the start of the pandemic–down from 35% last year. According to the survey, the number of employees who say they can talk openly about mental health with coworkers (56%) and supervisors (56%) is down from last year (65% and 62% respectively), too—disturbing news of mental health stigma in the workplace and lack of leadership support for employees.
What Business Leaders Can Do To Reduce Job Burnout
According to psychotherapist and brain health expert, Dr. Teralyn Sell, burnout is a term used to define what happens behaviorally when someone is under chronic stress. It can look like an employee who is disengaged, calls in sick, under performs (after being a good performer) or someone who is basically shut down. “Burnout might feel like a sense of numbness, not talking to family or friends, shutting down after work, a foggy brain, lack of energy or depression and anxiety. When a person is under chronic stress, cortisol or stress hormone will begin to blunt,” Dr. Sell explains. “That might feel like difficulty getting out of bed in the morning or an afternoon slump. When that happens our neurotransmitters will become imbalanced or hormones will also change, and our immune system will be compromised.”
Leaders and managers should be prioritizing workplace happiness and balance, Sell says, while also fostering their employees’ overall well-being in order to increase productivity and overall workplace satisfaction. Examples are supporting employees taking breaks, leaving on time, encouraging use of vacation time and advocating for exercise and breaks throughout the workday. The old-fashioned ways of doing business no longer work in the 2021 workplace, she says. Also opting for sit-to-stand desks, under the desk treadmills and bike pedals help with creativity, energy and improved mental clarity and physical well-being. Her advice to business leaders? “If you are in workplace leadership, set the example and do the same for yourself,” Sell insists. “Recognizing when an employee is struggling and offering services such as EAP can likely save a job and a person as well.”
3 Tips To Avoid Job Burnout Naturally
Dr. Sell offered three natural tips employees can practice to avoid burnout.
TIP #1: Set Work Boundaries
A fatigued brain might want to work longer because not enough work got done during the day. Staying late (or working late at night) is a sign that you might be heading to burnout. It is unrealistic to assume that work is the most important thing in your life. Eventually, it will sap your energy, motivation and joy. Putting a hard stop time to your workday is crucial to ending burnout.
TIP #2: Take Breaks And Eat
So many people don’t take breaks while they are at work. Thoughts get the best of you here. Taking a break to fuel your brain will actually keep your thinking brain online; it will keep you sharp and energetic. Alternatively, not fueling your brain and taking a break will create a higher level of stress and fatigue. You are likely to get more work done in a shorter amount of time by taking breaks rather than by powering through.
TIP #3: Get Moving: Motion Is The Lotion
Research is very clear that sitting at a desk all day is bad for your physical health as well as your mental health. If you sit for long periods of time, make sure you are able to get up and move on your breaks. Additionally, if you can, opt for a sit-stand desk or even an under-the-desk treadmill or bike pedals. Your productivity will be enhanced when those feel-good chemicals are at work.