Explained: How to avoid burnout in a fast-paced workplace

Burnout is characterised by three key factors: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; reduced professional efficacy, according to WHO.

By Vaishali Dar

Burnout is the biggest danger faced by employers today. It is prevalent in many start-ups as well as established setups, and has a significant impact on health, happiness, and productivity of workers. This is perhaps why the management plays an important role in taking proactive and corrective measures to avoid stress, long work hours and give the employees the much-needed workplace well-being. For certain members, forced leaves help prevent burnout. Mental well-being in a cerebral and creative field is another way to avoid burnout. Employees who constantly work for long hours without an internal purpose have a higher burnout and attrition rate. This is where many companies have ensured not only reduced work hours for their staff but also take care to make sure that professionals find meaning in the work they are doing.

According to Harsh Lambah, country manager (India), International Workplace Group, average working hours of employees in India are among the longest compared to global peers, with most employees working for more than 48 hours a week – higher than the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) prescribed time-limit. “India Inc. has also started paying attention to the mental health epidemic affecting a large part of working population in the country by prioritising employee well-being. Businesses are keen on following a holistic approach towards managing the workforce and creating a hassle-free environment for their most valuable asset – their employees. With countries like Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, Denmark introducing four-day work week, the debate on shorter work week has become a hot topic. The agenda of a shorter week is to create and sustain a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. With short weeks the productivity should increase,” he explains.

World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised burnout as an official syndrome stemming from chronic workplace stress. Research has shown that experiencing signs of burnout is becoming a constant across industries. Burnout is characterised by three key factors: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; reduced professional efficacy, according to WHO.

There are many ways to avoid burnout: A dialogue with employees always helps, as it is an opportunity for employees to comfortably raise issues. One must improve communication with the supervisor or reporting manager as well. Increased team spirit and participation can provide emotional support especially for those under stress. Try to maintain a strong bond and collaborate in more ways than one to attain participation. Also, when one focuses on employees’ strengths, chances are that you are more likely to be engaged.

Take out time for some leisure activities that will break the monotony. One must focus on weekdays where you can give ample time to your tasks. This way it helps prioritise work in office. Try to adapt to the changing pressure slowly in the transition. Listen to a podcast, exercise every day, arrange a dinner with friends. An extra day can be translated towards spending time with family, running errands, investing in hobbies, which, in turn, will result in lower levels of stress, increased satisfaction and hike in productivity.

Large corporates are stepping up their policies for a controlled attrition rate and better employee engagement, as retaining talent is more cost-effective than the rate of hiring. Many entrepreneurs feel that burnout occurs in a fast-paced workspace when the work is either monotonous or extremely stressful. Serial entrepreneur and speaker Pawan Shahri says, “There are small tasks an entrepreneur or manager can put into action daily to avoid their employees from being burnt out. Workplaces can be stressful, one should advise employees to take short breaks often, instead of a long one-hour break occasionally. It helps employees refresh their minds. I make sure to engage my employees in fun team-building activities that help in boosting morale as well as productivity. Burnout also happens due to constant criticism. So, at our workplace we conduct an ‘appreciation ceremony’ towards the end of the day to recognise daily achievements. Another important aspect is to recognise symptoms of burnout, and keep the lines of communication open to address grievances.”

With a focus to enhance the working environment, OneCulture coworking is designed in a way to reduce employee stress and burnout. Striving for employees’ physical and emotional wellness, OneCulture renders the best hospitality with the help of automation and artificial intelligence for amenities such as meditation and napping spots, workout and yoga facilities, in-house healthy snacks and beverages. Abhilash Shukla, CEO & founder of OneCulture, says, “All these are effective ways to reboot and refresh the brain and elevate focus. With regular employee engagement and business collaboration opportunities, employees can access a flexible environment to focus on work and enhance productivity.”

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