Solving employee burnout with flexible working

Three in five UK employees work longer hours than they want to, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Almost one in four employees work over 10 hours of overtime each week, but many want flexible working and better employee benefits instead.

Work related stress is defined as “a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work,” according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  When stress becomes chronic it can lead to ‘burnout’, poor performance, tense and disengaged work cultures and poor health. In the HSE report ‘Work related stress, depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018’, some notable findings are:

  • 44% of work-related ill health is due to stress, depression or anxiety.
  • The health and public sectors reported the highest rates of work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
  • The main reasons that respondents gave for the cause of work-related stress included organisational change, workload and lack of managerial support.

What is burnout?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised burn-out as a chronic condition. The WHO describes burn-out as chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been managed successfully. Symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, drop in productivity, an increased mental distance from the job and feelings of cynicism towards work. Burnout is often the result of a mismatch of how a person wants to work and how they have to work. It can concern autonomy, workload, recognition and pay.

When your employees reach burnout, you can expect to see a significant increase in absenteeism, staff turnover, unproductivity, negativity and poor relationships. All of this lowers morale and is of course, very bad for business.

How to spot burnout

A survey by the CIPD revealed that over one in five people feel exhausted and under excessive pressure, juggling work and their personal life. Two in three admitted experiencing a work-related health issue, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.

An employee close to burnout may display some or all of these signs.

  • Working more overtime than normal
  • Unexplained absences
  • Arriving late to work
  • Drop in quality of work and productivity
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Becoming isolated
  • Irritable

There are some simple steps employers can take to reduce the risks of employees experiencing burnout, while also supporting long-term employee wellbeing.

Support staff with EAPs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are a great way to support employees experiencing burnout. EAPs offer employees a free and confidential resource where they can get mental health and practical support by combining face-to-face, online and over-the-phone support services, counselling and health advice.

Work flexibility can extinguish burnout

In our modern, ‘always on’ culture, saying it is OK to switch off from work is important. Flexible work options can help alleviate burnout across the organisation and help employees to thrive. From job sharing, to flexitime, remote working and compressed work hours, flexible working enables employees to achieve a healthier and more productive work-life balance.

Flexible working supports employees to get into their optional flow of productivity. It enables people to achieve a realistic work-life balance, while boosting employee commitment and loyalty. The CIPD wants businesses to provide more flexible working opportunities and has produced guidance and tools on how employers can implement flexible working, improve uptake and effectively evaluate the process. 

Work can often become all-encompassing, demanding too much of a person’s personal time while also taking too much out of them. Employers need to focus on addressing these issues and encourage employees to achieve more of a work-life balance by considering offering the opportunity of flexible working arrangements.

Further HR Guidance

Watch the free webinar recording 5 Ways Managers Can Support Mental Health at Work. You can also find other helpful webinars that are available to watch on demand via our HR Webinar Library.

To find out more about how HR Solutions can help your business with an employee assistance programme, call us on 0844 324 5840 or contact us online.




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