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Workers face ongoing burnout risk

In a continuing sign of the pandemic’s impact on mental health, one third (33%) of the UK workforce are expecting to feel tired and burnt out in 2022.

A report by absence management software provider Edays found that a quarter (26%) of employees said their wellbeing had suffered comparative to 2019, and a further quarter (25%) said their wellbeing had varied in that time.

This data follows Indeed’s survey in March, which found half (52%) of the workforce reported that it felt burnt out, and two-thirds (67%) said that the feeling had worsened over the course of the pandemic.

Ama Afrifa-Tchie, head of people, wellbeing, and equity at Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, said: “Despite a sense of normality returning, the stress of the past 18 months continues to take its toll on our mental health.”  

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Signs of burnout that we might notice in an office environment, she added, such as changes in appearance or social withdrawal, can be harder to detect when employees work from home.

For remote working, Afrifa-Tchie advised watching for changes in working patterns: “They might be working many hours but not meeting deadlines, or they might be unable to step away from their inbox when out of office hours or on holiday.”

Dawn Morton-Young, director of MLHR, told HR magazine: “Burnout comes from prolonged stress, being under-resourced, and from a lack of breaks or rest. Employers need to reflect on the mental onslaught that we have all experienced over the past 18 months. It is this fatigue that is the real trigger for sickness absence.”

Many employees (30%), however, say their employer doesn’t check in with them after a sick day or repeat absences. One in ten even reported that no support was available for their mental and physical wellbeing at all.

Afrifa-Tchie added: “Employers should support staff with preventative measures, by ensuring they have a mental health and wellbeing strategy in place. It is important to remind your teams that wherever you’re working, creating a healthy routine is important. Rest and recuperation are key to self-care and preventing burnout.”