No to burnout: Paving the way to support employee well-being
FROM WHERE WE SIT JUN CUARESMA
The Manila Times
DO what you love and you will never have to work a day. This quote, attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius, is inspiring and true. But on the flip side, it can pose false expectations. The work dynamic centuries ago is far different from what we have today and simply doing what you are passionate about is not enough of a consideration when weighing employment options. We spend around eight hours at work every day. Add another hour for preparation plus two hours for the commute to and from work, depending on factors such as traffic that can increase travel times — these only form part of the physical preparations for work. What takes more of a toll than physical fatigue is work-related stress, a factor often overlooked but is one of the workplace challenges cited by employees in the American Psychologists Association’s 2021 Work and Well-Being survey. Doing what you love is clearly not enough, especially when too much stress at work leads to burnout. Work burnout is classified as an occupational phenomenon. The International Classification of Diseases defines it as a syndrome that occurs as a product of chronic workplace stress that has not been adequately managed and addressed. It is characterized by “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.” Effects of employee burnout Mental health matters. Spending so much of our time at work has a direct and profound effect on overall health. The effects of work burnout not only impact work productivity — they likewise affect the personal well-being of staff. According to McKinsey, 1 in 4 employees have reported experiencing work burnout, a factor that makes them much more likely to quit. This is already apparent in many workplaces today, with companies reporting higher attrition rates. What is driving the higher employee turnover rate? Factors correlated with burnout like toxic workplace behavior and culture. More companies today are putting in extra effort to manage and address employee burnout. Another McKinsey article emphasized that HR (human resources) teams now offer health and wellness perks like yoga subscriptions and training on time management. However, offering such should not be the be-all and end-all when it comes to ensuring staff welfare. Consider enforcing “well-being days” Many organizations today are implementing what they call wellbeing or wellness days, periods during which staff get to enjoy a mandatory day off to recharge. While often considered part of work-life balance, wellness days offer so much more. During these days, employers get to engage staff in exercises that put a premium on developing psychological and physical welfare. These may come in the form of mentoring and sessions with professionals that offer guidance on areas like proper nutrition and even the benefits of practicing mindfulness. Implementing designated wellness days every month provides a host of benefits like increased work productivity and affords staff the opportunity to learn new skills. Improve workplace productivity metrics A Gallup study cited in an article showed that when employees feel that they have control over their performance metrics, they are “55 percent less likely to experience burnout frequently.” Companies should strive to adopt metrics that are free from external factors that influence overall ratings of staff. It should be emphasized that it is extra difficult to work diligently when you know that factors aside from your own work performance can influence your job rating, thereby increasing chances that employees will feel anxious and stressed. Embed employee engagement in office culture A toxic workplace is more detrimental than we think. Taking steps to improve organizational culture — the sum of workplace norms — enable a company to avoid toxic situations that may lead to stress buildup and burnout. HR teams should be at the forefront of ensuring and, more importantly, showing that the company cares for its staff and is concerned about their welfare. When long work hours are tolerated and worse, practiced and praised over completing job deliverables more efficiently though at a shorter time, it will become a habit difficult to break. In the end, the power to dictate work practices that promote employee well-being is at the hands of the company and team leaders. Fostering a positive environment where employees can thrive and excel, improving performance indicators and adopting employee engagement strategies will not only leave a rosy impact on staff members’ overall mental health — it will lead to improved work productivity as well. Jun Cuaresma is the managing partner & COO of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 24 partners and more than 1,000 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us at @GrantThorntonPH, like us on Facebook at P&A Grant Thornton and email your comments to email@example.com. For more information, visit our website at www.grantthornton.com.ph.