Over 80% of workers experiences work-related stress—a conundrum that causes not only significant suffering for workers, but which causes businesses to lose up to $300 billion per year (per the American Institute of Stress). Only 43% of employees feel that the balance between their personal and work lives matters to their employers. The problem is so serious that it causes 120,00 deaths and a high percentage of absenteeism.
What Are the Risk Factors for Work Burnout?
A study published in the journal, BMC Psychiatry, has found that there are three problems that can increase the likelihood of burnout. These are a too-heavy workload, monotony, and not being recognized for one’s efforts and results. For instance, people who work over 40 hours a week are six times more likely to develop work burnout than those who work less than 35 hours. Working too many hours can also increase the risk of work injuries, which can result in medical and/or legal issues. Battling a chronic illness or facing a lawsuit can contribute to the stress one already encounters by virtue of one’s job. To tackle burnout, it is vital to identify each stressor and aim to eliminate it proactively. This can be achieved through good nutrition, a healthy support network, exercise, good sleep, and mindfulness activities.
Eliminating Work Stress
An individual worker can significantly lower their stress through a healthy lifestyle and practices like controlled breathing, yoga, mindfulness meditation, and spending time in nature. However, businesses and managers have a key role in tackling the actual causes of stress. Workers should be given a fair workload, their roles should be dynamic, and they should have continued opportunities to grow, learn, and retrain. Efforts should be rewarded via positive feedback, greater flexibility, and economic rewards if possible.
Tackling Mental Health
Companies should ensure that the mental health needs of their employees are being met. They can achieve this through a multifaceted strategy. This can include offering flexible schedules and remote work days, providing access to apps that promote better sleep and calm, and offering workers mindfulness training/yoga/exercise opportunities at work. Companies should also encourage employees to take advantage of their vacation days every year, limiting the number of free days they can roll onto the following year. They should be able to refer employees to specific professionals if they are feeling stressed or burned out. Finally, companies should create a friendly, supportive, environment at work; one that embraced diversity and inclusivity. They should organize team-building activities and days out so that employees from various departments get to know each other and build friendships that can be a buffer in tough times.
The vast majority of people in the US are battling stress. Some of the main issues they face are heavy workloads, repetitious jobs, and a lack of recognition. Both employers and employees should take stress seriously, since it is linked to a host of health issues—including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Employees should be offered flexible schedules, and they should be referred to specific mental health services if required.