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We hear the term ‘burnout’ a lot in the news and on social media. But what is burnout? How can we recognise if an employee has hit burnout? And as employers, what you can do to support an employee who is facing burnout.

There are many ways that LMC UK Services can assist our member Practices when dealing with an employee who is facing burnout. We have a team of HR professionals who are all CIPD qualified. Each one of them could provide you with guidance and support on what strategies you can adopt in order to manage an employee facing burnout. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 953 4020 on this topic or any other concerns you may have relating to your employees.

 So what is burnout?

The dictionary definition of burnout is, ‘physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress’. Burnout can present in many different forms.

What are the signs of Burnout

Emotional or physical exhaustion – this can present as fatigue, there can be physical symptoms such as chest pains. This can also present as anxiety and depression. Individuals can also experience a loss of appetite and general lack of concentration.

Cynicism and detachment – employees may start to detach themselves from their work, they may start calling in more frequently or coming in late. You may notice them become more isolated from their team and develop a general pessimistic view on themselves and what they do but also about the world around them.

Ineffectiveness or lack of accomplishment – employees may start to feel apathetic about their work. They may start to feel that everything is going wrong and that there is just no point in trying anymore. They may become more irritable and frustrated, this comes from feeling like they can’t doing anything right and feeling underappreciated. Finally you may see a drop in productivity which may be attributed to feeling as though there is just no point because they feel everything they do is wrong.

What causes burnout in employees?

  There are a number of causes of burnout and this list is not exhaustive:

  • Excessive workload – feeling overwhelmed and pressured by how much there is to undertake can cause serious stress and in time burnout.
  • Unclear expectations – when employees don’t know what is expected of them or what they are responsible for. This may be ever more prevalent today with issues in recruiting, increased workload and an increase in absences due to corona virus. Employers expect the team to pitch in, but they also have to be clear on what is required of their staff.
  • Lack of support from managers – if employees don’t feel supported by their managers, that they can turn to them if they come up against an issue, if they feel worried they are going to have the finger pointed at them in a crisis, this can increase the likelihood that an employee will hit burnout.
  • Lack of control – when employees feel that they don’t have any control over their work, what they do when and how they do it.

How can employers support someone facing Burnout?

When you have an employee who is facing burnout it is important to try and work with that employee, to help them face the reality of their current state of mental health, and find a way you can work together to rectify it. There are a number of things employers can do:

  • Build a plan together – ask the employee how you can help them through this, ask the employee what steps they will be taking themselves to rectify the situation and finally what can be done in the future to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
  • Review their job expectations – one of the biggest impacts of burnout is that the individual loses all confidence in their abilities. Work with them to decide what are reasonable expectations in order to help them recover. This may involve reducing responsibilities to help reduce the stress they are exposed to. However it is important to stress that these alterations are to help the recovery, they aren’t necessarily permanent alterations.
  • As an employer you may need to provide ongoing support for this individual. With burnout comes stigma. People feel ashamed that they have been unable to cope. It is important that there is somewhere to turn for individuals, someone they can talk to. That person could be their direct line manager, or you could discuss with them about establishing a buddy system with one of their peers. This could be someone in Practice or an individual external to the Practice.

It is important to stress that each individual case is different and getting some advice and guidance on how to manage an individual who is facing burnout is really important. As covered in the introduction, LMC UK Services has a team of individuals qualified to advise and guide businesses on how to effectively support and manage individuals who are facing burnout. Please call us on 0800 953 4020 if you was some support.