Burnout and Employers’ Responsibilities

Employers need to take employee health and wellbeing seriously.

Failure to comply with the law can put your business at risk and is in any case a poor example of leadership for your employees.

The Law states that employers have a duty to assess and manage risks to their employees and others arising from work activities.

This does of course include the risks of employee Burnout.

Counting the Costs of Employee Burnout

Employers should be aware that Burnout most often affects high fliers and high performers – their Star performers. So once they begin to struggle, you find that their performance declines.

Initially they may stop being a high performer and start to be an average performer. They may also begin to lack engagement and commitment to the job and to the work of the organisation.

If the situation continues and no help is provided, then eventually the employee will suffer a complete collapse and withdraw sick. Clearly this carries a significant cost to the employer, including 100% loss of performance output plus insurance costs.

If the employee doesn’t return then in addition to lost productivity, employers have to bear recruitment costs and the impact on team productivity and morale.

Eliminate the Causes of Burnout

At all times it is far preferable to find and eliminate the causes of burnout before the syndrome develops, rather than treating it after it has occurred. This places a significant responsibility on employers (especially on Human Resources) to ensure that appropriate policies, procedures and assessments are in place and that these are applied effectively.

Prevent Burnout by enhancing Resilience

Prevention is about enhancing individual and organisational resilience to Burnout. Whilst there are many ways to achieve this, the core is to take a strategic approach. Too many organisations focus on activities without getting their strategic focus sorted.

Your Burnout Prevention Strategy

Every employer needs a Burnout prevention strategy. This means developing and implementing strategies, aligned with your business Purpose and overall goals, to reduce the incidence of stress and burnout including;

  • Reviewing work practices to prevent excessive workload and lack of control
  • Developing comprehensive policies and ensuring they are applied
  • Ensuring open lines of communication and people are listened to
  • Training and development of managers and those in positions of authority to improve awareness and understanding of burnout and to enhance the impact they have on others
  • Offering coaching and mentoring services
  • Training to improve listening and questioning skills
  • Programmes that encourage a healthy lifestyle

Early Identification and Treatment

The next step is to provide a range of services that help with the early identification of problems and that treat the early symptoms. These include;

  • Awareness and resilience training for employees
  • Offering life style activities known to help
  • Regular surveys and audits to provide feedback
  • Reviewing and analysing data on absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Providing confidential support to those at risk of Burnout

Getting Help

We help employers to support employees who are suffering from Burnout.

We also provide a range of services, including manager training, healthy living workshops for employees, executive coaching and awareness and resilience training to help employers prevent Burnout.

Do contact us to find out more about how our services can ensure you keep your employees fit, healthy and productive.

Legislation covering Burnout

There are several examples of legislation that have the potential to impact the issue of Burnout in the workplace, including;

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Fatal Accidents Act 1976
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • European framework directive 89/391

Whilst none specifically refer to Burnout, it is clear that employers are open to claims from employees if they fail to take the necessary steps to provide for their duty of care to employees.

No employer surely wants to put themselves in a position where they have to fight a claim – it is costly, time consuming and sends out a very poor message to other employees, customers and shareholders.

The answer is prevention – developing strategies that lead to increased resilience and productivity.