I was pleased to read in James Bradley’s “Expert View” (Personnel Today, 12 April) that burnout is no longer the acknowledged domain of the highly pressured lawyer or doctor, but a condition that can hit anyone at any time in their career if they are faced with high productivity expectations in a hostile and unsupportive environment.
As Bradley rightly mentioned, burnout appears most often in the sales and services industries.
The customer contact centre is a perfect example of a troubled profession that is reforming and tackling staff burnout and churn. Historically staff attrition has seen 20% to 50% of the workforce having to be replenished annually, costing in excess of £1bn per year.
Admittedly not all of this is due to burnout but the high stress levels, low motivation and lack of self-worth that commonly lead to burnout can be prevalent in this sector.
That said, today’s modern training and coaching techniques, professional career development and optimum working environments mean there is no longer an excuse for this kind of suffering.
And this translates across all front line, customer-facing professions and can be tackled through high quality performance management driven forward by structured direct line management.
Problems only arise when this is not set in place as a positive encouraging mechanism, but instead is used as a whip by ill-equipped management.
The key then is a business philosophy that values its people and invests to nourish and support development through professional training, coaching and mentoring. It needs to inspire people, raise morale and restore a sense of purpose and self-worth, naturally leading to best performance.
Positivity and optimism in the workplace encourage tolerance and balanced judgement, and inspirational leadership enables access to those positive qualities that build our self-respect and contentment – the ultimate preventative medicine for burnout.