18 January 2021

Covid will intensify burnout unless employers intervene

Employees are at greater risk than ever of suffering burnout. Monday 18 January 2021 is officially Blue Monday and, whilst this one day is highlighted as a particularly low point, employers should consider the bigger picture. Preventative and curative measures must be put in place.

‘Employers must look at tackling burnout in a sustainable way, eradicating the factors and issues before they take hold,’ says Debra Clark, Head of Specialist at Towergate Health & Protection. ‘The past year has been incredibly tough for everyone. With the effects being cumulative, for some people they may only just be beginning to show. Now is the time for employers to ensure they have everything in place to offer employees the support they need, and clearly communicate it or risk burnout.’

What is burnout?

Burnout is mental, emotional and physical exhaustion related specifically to the workplace as a result of persistent, long-term stress.

How Covid is increasing burnout

The whole situation surrounding Covid carries an increased risk of employees reaching burnout. The move to flexible working would have seemed positive to some at first, but for others working remotely, from home, under different circumstances, or during different hours, brings a new level of anxiety. Added to this is the concern about future employment and generally having to juggle more demands. The work-life balance is lost for many as work becomes a more integral part of life and the boundaries become significantly blurred. What began for many as working from home, has now become living at work.  

How employers can help

It is crucial that prevention and intervention are part of the company’s health and wellbeing programme, and there are many options to ensure employees are directed to or given the right support.

Health and wellbeing solutions have been ramped up in light of Covid and employers need to be aware of what is available and make provisions for their workforce, such as:  

  • Virtual GPs – available standalone or increasingly included as standard within health and protection benefits
  • Online mental health counselling support services
  • Stress intervention and management support
  • Mood-tracking apps
  • Health education apps
  • Online/remote health assessments and screening options
  • Wellbeing and lifestyle guidance, webinars and workshops
  • Mental health first aid training and support

It is important to assist with preventing burnout and minimise the impact it has on an individual by quickly recognising the signs and providing interventions and support as soon as possible.

Debra Clark continues: ‘We all have down days, but burnout is a consequence of ongoing, long-term pressures and it can have a devastating effect. Implementing wellbeing benefits is not the soft option. They tackle a very real problem that affects the company as a whole and not just the individual employee. Putting measures in place now will minimise the risk in the future.

‘Burnout may be as much down to the culture of the company as to the way the individual deals with the stresses, so employers must think carefully about what they are offering staff by way of support and in terms of boosting morale, mental health and positivity.’