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Employee burn-out officially recognised by WHO as medical diagnosis

By / 10 months ago / Latest News / 1 Comment

The WHO now officially recognises “burn-out” as a medical diagnosis for overworked employees, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to work patterns.

87% of respondents said they felt pressured to keep productivity high to prove the case for their continued employment working-from-home

87% of respondents said they felt pressured to keep productivity high to prove the case for their continued employment working-from-home

47% of managers believe their employees may be at risk of burn-out and over a third (36%) of British employees stated that their mental health and wellbeing has suffered as a result of working longer hours during COVID-19.

Working remotely was found to have produced an increase in productivity (35%) and 87% of respondents said they felt pressured to keep productivity high to prove the case for their continued employment working-from-home (WfH) post-COVID.

The findings come from a new report published this week by global recruiter Robert Walters: Burning the Candle: Strategies to Combat Workplace Burnout [sic].

Despite “Burn-out” first being identified as a phenomenon as long ago as 1974, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has only officially recognised burn-out as a legitimate medical diagnosis in May this year, in its eleventh edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

According to the WHO; burn-out is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.

Sam Walters, director of professional services at Robert Walters commented: “There is no denying that mental health & wellbeing has been on the agenda for most employers – even pre-COVID.

“Increasingly, we were seeing offices be re-designed ergonomically, work health insurances enhanced to provide mental health support, and training provided to managers to help understand and deal with employees suffering from poor mental health.

“Many of these policies were geared around personal mental health issues – such as depression and anxiety – which have an impact or were exasperated by work.

“Burn-out is an entirely different and recently recognised condition which, unlike other mental health issues, can be directly linked to work. As a result, employers have a crucial and central role to play in order to ensure their staff do not reach the point of burn-out.”

Whilst two thirds of professionals (61%) believe that wellness policies are important, just a third of companies offer what is required by law. According to the Robert Walters’ Burn-out Guide, there are six key areas which can lead to or exasperate workplace burn-out.

These include: Unmanageable workload expectations; lack of autonomy and control; lack of recognition; poor company culture; lack of equal opportunities and fairness; lack of purpose.

21% of professionals claim that the pressure to deliver results when working from home has caused a negative impact on their mental health or wellbeing.

According to Robert Walters’ findings, 55% of employees are less likely to burnout if they strongly believe their performance metrics are within their control.

73% of professionals stated that they feel it’s important that their company organises team bonding activities. However less than half (43%) of businesses take the time to plan such activities or days.

80% of professionals also highlighted the importance for managers to have an open-door policy in order to prevent frustrations building up; however, over a third felt that they could not approach their leadership team on mental health related matters.

42% of survey respondents revealed that they prioritise working for a mission-driven company over other incentive items such as salary or benefits.

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.

One Comment

  • Worksnaps24. Aug, 2020

    Great article, Jonathan! Burn out often leads to loss of motivation that may lead to depression and stress. Positive reinforcement and encouraging stress relievers may help lessen the factors that cause employee burnout.