Survey exposes burnout ‘epidemic’ among managers

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Only a fifth of managers who have experienced feelings of burnout since the pandemic hit have sought medical support, a survey has found.

According to a poll of 1,007 managers in the UK, 61% had suffered burnout at work since the first lockdown was introduced, with 20% feeling that the strain on their mental wellbeing was enough to consider resigning from their job.

Anxiety about the future (46%), a lack of sleep (40%), limited social interaction (35%), working longer hours (34%), increased demands from senior leadership (28%), and managing home schooling with work (26%) were cited as the main causes of burnout among managers over the past 12 months, the survey by private medical cover provider Benenden Health found.

Only 20% sought help from a medical professional about their mental health, while 33% either took time off as annual leave or a sick day.

Burnout is characterised by the World Health Organization as having feelings of exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and reduced professional efficiacy.

“What we are seeing is that there is a burnout epidemic across the nation’s managers, but too often these individuals feel too helpless, worried and embarrassed to open up and seek support for their mental wellbeing concerns,” said Naomi Thompson, head of OD at Benenden Health.

“An open, two-way conversation must now take place to ensure employees are able to disclose and address any mental wellbeing concerns without fear. It is also important that employers are in a position to support appropriately and effectively, to the benefit of both individual employees, and the business as a whole.”

Meanwhile, a separate survey by professional staffing business Walters People found 62% of professionals have experienced work-related burnout symptoms at some point in their career.

The company highlighted six areas that organisations should address before allowing employees to return to the office, thus avoiding putting further strain on their mental health:

  1. Managing workload expectations and allowing them the opportunity to speak up when their workload becomes excessive
  2. Giving staff autonomy and control over their work and responsibilities
  3. Recognising results and providing financial, social and intrinsic rewards
  4. Creating a culture where staff feel they belong, by encouraging managers to have an open door policy and facilitating team-bonding activities
  5. Ensuring equal opportunities and fairness
  6. Weaving the company’s values into its culture.
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