Mental health & wellbeing

How companies can combat employee exhaustion and reduce burnout

Martin Kovacs /

Employee burnout is a very real problem in the modern workplace, with smart technology blurring the lines between professional and personal lives and increasingly creating an around-the-clock working environment. However there are ways companies and employees can be proactive in promoting good health.

Author and physician executive Julie Rosenberg writes at Thrive Global that “workplace burnout is more than just fatigue”.

“Burnout is characterised by a chronic state of emotional and physical exhaustion, as well as strong feelings of frustration and powerlessness,” she writes.

“Those suffering from workplace burnout tend to withdraw emotionally from their work, lose motivation and become less productive.”

With burnout “a condition of the modern workplace”, Rosenberg says “companies are trying to become more productive with less personnel”, while “we are constantly tethered to our jobs” due to modern technology, and it isn’t just high-level professionals who are working six or seven-day weeks.

“Burnout is pervasive across varied professions and throughout corporate hierarchies,” she writes.

“And not only is it not good for employees, but it’s not good for companies themselves.”

How to reduce burnout

When combating burnout, Rosenberg says “fostering a climate of health and wellness is paramount”.

“It can be something as simple as encouraging employees to take breaks throughout the day, or as formal as offering yoga and meditation programs at the workplace,” she advises.

Additionally, managers “need to establish and maintain boundaries with employees in terms of availability”, while systems should be established to aid work processes by which employees can ask for help or communicate their concerns to management.

Rosenberg also recommends corporations focus on employee accomplishments when considering success and steer clear of equating accomplishments with activity.

Among the measures that employees can take to manage burnout, she recommends:

  • Regularly relaxing and unwinding and switching off from technology for at least one hour every day.
  • Establishing boundaries to reduce overextending.
  • Re-evaluating goals and priorities to include daily activities that support happiness.
  • Communicating with supportive people.
  • Avoid making comparisons and be grateful, with gratitude “an affirmation of goodness”.

Rosenberg says yoga has helped “to unify and relax my mind and body, so that I am better able to manage workplace stress and uncertainty”.

“A focusing exercise, for example, is quite simple and can be done at a desk chair,” she advises.

“Start by taking a comfortable, seated position, making sure your spine is straight. Gently close your eyes. Take a long, deep breath in through your nose, and exhale out of your nose, two-to-three counts longer than your inhalation.

“How do you feel? Lengthening your exhalation is the fastest way to calm the mind, soothe the nervous system and balance emotions. The slower you breathe, the quieter your mind will become.”

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Martin Kovacs

Martin Kovacs is a journalist with experience covering the IT, consumer electronics, retail, finance and energy sectors.

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