Employees in the finance function work long hours and under much pressure, having a high risk of burnout.
What is burnout?
According to a handbook of the World Health Organization, which has classified burnout as a legitimate medicate diagnosis, burnout symptoms can include feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficiency.
Alistair Cox, CEO of recruitment firm Hays warned employers to look out for the following signs that an employee is addicted to their work: being the first person to arrive in the office and the last to leave on a regular basis, continually working on weekends, never using full holiday entitlement, and compulsively checking work emails out of hours.
This behaviour, said Alistair, can become destructive and lead to burnout.
Causes of burnout
According to him, the potential causes of work addiction can include technology and a fear of being replaced.
Other causes could be a faster pace of life or professionals identifying being busy as something to be proud of, he added.
Alistair believes that employers have a key role to play in stopping the vicious cycle before it becomes an epidemic.
What CFOs and business leaders can do
To curb the workaholic trends in workplace, the CEO recommends the following actions:
Think about the impact of your actions. While it’s sometimes inevitable for people to work late or over the weekend, business leaders shouldn’t set that expectation in their teams or through their actions.
“If you’re working late, try scheduling your emails to be sent during working hours if you can. This will limit the risk of employees feeling obligated to answer or work during their personal time,” he said.
Reward quality of work, not quantity of hours worked. It’s time to review how one measures success and assess candidates for promotion, Alistair advised.
Business leaders also need to try to openly and publicly praise the productive and engaged non-workaholics on their teams, he added.
Stop being so judgemental. “Let your team set their own boundaries, and don’t judge them for doing so,” said Alistair.
For example, if a member of your team can’t stay late to finish a project due to personal commitments, try to resist the temptation to somehow silently put a black mark against their name in your mind, he noted.
Encourage your team to take time out. Leaders should encourage team members to use their full quota of leave—talk to them about how they’re going to spend it, and importantly, reiterate that you don’t want to be receiving any emails from them while they’re off, he said.
Leaders should also encourage regular breaks and discourage eating lunch in front of their computers, he added.
Don’t let the workaholic’s habits permeate to the rest of the team. “As organizational psychologist Woody Woodward says, ‘It’s important not to punish your more productive and balanced team members with added timelines and burdens purely created by your wayward workaholic.’ Keep your team culture in check and educate yourself on the signs of workaholism so you can look out for your other team members,” Alistair advised.
Be a role model. Start today by consciously setting boundaries and communicating these with team members and sticking to them, he said.
In addition, leaders need to make a concerted effort to establish more of a balance in your life by prioritizing their physical and mental health, Alistair noted.
“There’s a very fine line between working hard and working obsessively hard to the detriment of your productivity and success at work, or more importantly, to the detriment of your health and personal relationships. As leaders, it is important that we are aware of the risks both from a personal perspective and for our team members and wider businesses,” he concluded.