‘Employee burnout’ is common in one-third of UK companies

Almost one-third (30%) of UK HR directors have said that “employee burnout” is common in their organisations, with excessive workloads the main cause of factors such as increased sick leave, lateness and reduced productivity.

A survey by recruitment consultancy Robert Half UK found workload was cited by 67% of HR directors as the most common cause for so-called “employee burnout”, with long work hours and unachievable expectations cited by 56% and 35% of respondents respectively.

Spotting the warning signs

Robert Half UK highlighted the following warning signs that an employee might be “running on empty”:

  • Frequently late for work.
  • Less productive.
  • Frequently disagrees with managers or colleagues.
  • Disconnected from work.
  • Increased amount of sick leave.
  • Negativity and emotional outbursts.

Research carried by Robert Half UK last year found almost one-third (29%) of HR directors said work-life balance was the most common motivation for employees leaving their businesses, and this year it found eight executives in 10 were concerned about losing top performers during 2013. Robert Half has therefore reminded employers that work-life balance should be a primary part of their retention strategy.

Phil Sheridan, Robert Half UK managing director, said: “Employee burnout can affect almost any professional, from the top boss to a rank and file employee. Many employees who have been tackling increased workloads while putting in long hours are beginning to lose their motivation.”

The survey highlighted some of the measures taken by organisations to alleviate the issue. These included: promoting a teamwork-based environment (50%); reviewing/restructuring job functions and tasks (45%); encouraging team-building activities (34%), providing flexible working options (34%) and encouraging employees to take time off (31%). Significantly, one in five respondents said their organisation (19%) planned to hire interim staff to help manage workloads.

Sheridan added: “In today’s economy, many businesses are managing heavier workloads with fewer 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.”

For more information on stress, see XpertHR’s line manager briefing.

Personnel Today also has further news and features on occupational health.

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