Mental Health and HR

Here at Ontop we take the topic of mental health and wellness seriously. Many HR Departments have worked with their companies to build programs and benefits in order to make sure workers are feeling good and getting the care and help that they need. According to The World Health Organization, approximately 15% of workers around the world suffer from some type of mental illness. The estimated amount of money lost as a result of depression and anxiety is about 1 trillion dollars, with 12 billion work days lost annually. 

Therefore, it is crucial for companies to take precautions and prevent their employees from getting sick. Taking care of their team means more efficiency at work and less absenteeism, making it a win-win situation. No one can do their job well if they are not feeling 100%. 

Now let’s talk about burnout.

What is Burnout?

The term “burnout” is a relatively new term. It was first coined in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger in his book, Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. It has become so popular in the past few years that most people assume they know exactly what burnout is. But do you know what it really means? 

Author Freudenberger defined burnout as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one's devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.” It can be described as a state of physical and emotional exhaustion and often occurs when one experiences long-term stress in their job, or when working in a physically or emotionally draining role for extended periods of time. 

Physical Burnout Symptoms

If you are experiencing burnout then your body will most likely tell you. Research indicates that some of the most common physical burnout symptoms include:

• Gastrointestinal problems

• High blood pressure

• Poor immune functioning (getting sick more often)

• Frequent headaches

• Sleeping problems (feeling like you can’t shut off your mind)

All of these symptoms are the result of burnout and chronic stress. It is helpful to be aware of how this stress can affect the body in general. Chronic stress may manifest physically such as having more aches and pains, lower energy levels, and changes in appetite.

 All of these physical signs suggest that you may be experiencing burnout.

Mental Burnout Symptoms

Burnout can also impact you mentally and emotionally. Here are some of the most common mental symptoms of burnout:

• Difficulty concentrating

• Depressed mood

• Feelings of worthlessness

• Loss of interest or pleasure

•Suicidal ideation

Risk Factors for Burnout Symptoms

Do you have a high-stress job? Don’t worry! That doesn’t mean you automatically have to experience burnout. The key is to manage your stress well. It is important to note that some individuals (such as those in certain high-stress jobs) are at a higher risk for burnout. 

Research[1] shows there are five job factors that can contribute to employee burnout

Unreasonable deadlines

Employees who say they have enough time to do their work are 70% less likely to experience burnout, while individuals who work under strict time constraints (such as paramedics and firefighters) are at a higher risk of burnout.

Lack of communication and support from management

Manager support offers a psychological buffer against stress. Employees who feel strongly supported by their manager are 70% less likely to experience burnout symptoms on a regular basis.

Lack of role clarity

Only 60% of workers know what is expected of them. When expectations are like moving targets, employees may become exhausted simply by trying to figure out what they are supposed to be doing.

Unmanageable workload

When the workload feels unmanageable, even the most optimistic employees will feel hopeless. Feeling overwhelmed can quickly lead to experiencing burnout symptoms.

Unfair treatment

Employees who feel they are treated unfairly at work are 2.3 times more likely to experience a high level of burnout. Unfair treatment may include things such as favoritism, unfair compensation, and mistreatment from a co-worker.

The stress that contributes to burnout often stems from your job, but stressors from other areas of life can add to it as well. Personality traits and thought patterns such as perfectionism and pessimism, for example, can contribute to the stress you might feel. 

[1] Brandstätter V, Job V, Schulze B. Motivational incongruence and well-being at the workplace: person-job fit, job burnout, and physical symptoms. Front Psychol. 2016;7:1153. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01153