Jobs: Work stress is ‘leading to employee burnout’

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Employees in many firms may be running on empty and showing stress symptoms, says recruitment specialist Robert Half UK.

The recruitment agency’s research says two thirds of UK HR directors cite ‘workload’ as the primary reason for employee burnout, although this figure rises to three quarters for large and public sector companies.

More than half cite overtime or long working hours as the secondary reason, followed by unachievable expectations, economic pressures and inability to balance personal and professional commitments.

Phil Sheridan, Robert Half’s managing director, said: “Employee burnout can affect almost any professional, from top boss to rank and file employee.

“Many employees who have been tackling increased workloads while putting in long hours are beginning to lose their motivation at work and this is particularly challenging for accounting teams as they prepare for fiscal year-end.”

When asked if any workload management initiatives had been implemented to prevent employee burnout, HR directors said they are promoting a teamwork-based environment, reviewing/restructuring job functions and tasks, encouraging team–building activities, providing flexible working options and encouraging employees to take time off. One in five businesses plan to hire additional temporary or interim staff to help manage burnout.

Mr Sheridan added: “In today’s economy, many businesses are managing heavier workloads with less staff, so hiring temporary or interim professionals is proving an effective and efficient way to alleviate pressure, especially as accounting and finance departments prepare for fiscal year-end. This allows companies to manage workload peaks and troughs without incurring fixed labour costs, while ensuring specialist technical skills are available as and when needed. Companies who adopt this approach have been able to cope better with the unexpected, prevent employee burnout and avoid reduced morale and increased costs.”

Robert Half UK highlights says there are warning signs that employees may be “running on empty”. These include being frequently late for work, being less productive, frequently disagreeing with managers or colleagues, being disconnected from work, taking an increased amount of sick leave and prone to negativity and emotional outbursts.