If an issue can be prevented, don’t wait till you have to fix it.
The World Health Organisation re-labelled burnout as an "occupational phenomenon" this year to reflect that burnout is a work-based syndrome caused by chronic stress which leads to exhaustion, negativity towards a job, and a reduction of work performance.
In Singapore, a Cigna study found that 92% of workers are stressed, with one in eight citing unmanageable stress levels.
There are things that companies can do to alleviate the situation.
“Companies can implement organizational changes such as managing office morale, regulating workloads, or ensuring manageable working hours are enforced, as well as developing the appropriate support mechanisms for colleagues on an individual basis should all be high priority goals for every business,” said Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore.
Actions you can take
The recruitment firm recommends the following actions to manage burnout in the workplace.
Train managers to identify and address the stress drivers
The triggers that drive workplace stress and burnout differ from employee to employee, so creating a space for early identification and response is important to help ease or change the situation, said Robert Half.
While managers are well-positioned to identify and act on mental health worries among their team, many are not appropriately trained to identify and address emotional distress in the workplace, the firm noted.
Investing in education for managers around mental health in the workplace can help them to be aware of what contributes to a positive working culture, as well as provide a tool kit of identification, communication, and remedial strategies to assist employees who may display symptoms of increased stress, the firm advised.
Provide support channels for employees
Mental health remains a taboo subject in the workplace so it is important to openly address the issue, according to the recruitment agency.
When business leaders talk about mental health, employees are more likely to come forward to share their experience with mental illness.
Also educate them on the support services available to them to address such issues.
Many companies today are implementing formal employee assistance programs, according to the company.
Providing a confidential pathway via the provision of a third-party that provides confidential counselling and psychological services can meaningfully aide in the preventative and proactive interventions for individual employees and their immediate family members, the firm advised.
Invest in wellbeing initiatives that aide work-life balance
Respecting the obligations and interests that occupy workers outside of the office, and helping employees take care of themselves onsite, can help prevent burnout at work, said Robert Half.
From supplying free fruit to offering discounted gym memberships, time off for counselling, or creating a social club, there are lots of ways to promote wellbeing in the workplace, the firm added.
In addition, companies need to ask employees which wellbeing initiatives would make the biggest difference to their mental health and work-life balance, and implement them if budgets permit it.
Recognize hard work
Feeling appreciated and well-compensated can make challenging workloads easier to manage and contribute to cultivating a positive work environment, Robert Half pointed out.
Why a pay raise or a bonus is one of the clearest and often most valued recognitions of an employee’s work, giving out money is not a sustainable solution when the workload is excessive and/or the work environment is negative, the firm said, adding that monetary rewards shouldn’t be used as a substitute for creating a mentally healthy workforce.
And saying “thank you” can go a long way, Robert Half pointed out. “Offering appreciation can be as simple as a mention at a staff meeting or as involved as a nomination of your team for internal and external awards,” Robert Half said. “If they do something well, take notice. If you implement ideas submitted by your employees, give them credit.”