How to avoid Pre-Christmas burnout
With Stress Awareness week just around the corner and the festive season on the horizon, we’re keeping the focus on your employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.
For those employees celebrating Christmas, it can be a bittersweet time of the year. On the one hand, you get a break from work, time to see the family, celebration – fun. On the other hand, there’s an expectation for people to buy gifts and spend extra money on food and socialising.
We’re experiencing a cost-of-living crisis, people are feeling the pinch, and all the things we usually love about Christmas can become a source of stress instead of enjoyment.
‘Tis the season
Burnout can hit at any time of the year, but employers need to be particularly aware of it in the build-up to Christmas.
From a workplace perspective, when the end of the year rolls around, it can be a time when teams are encouraged to give that last push of energy to boost performance and meet annual targets. After a long twelve months, it can be a big ask, and your employee engagement and reward and recognition strategies need to be robust to get this last burst of motivation from your workforce.
In addition to the workplace and personal pressure on employees in the build-up to Christmas, there are also environmental factors to consider. The days are shorter; some of your employees will leave and return home in the dark and spend daylight hours at their desks. Seasonal Affective Disorder is prevalent during the winter months, and the symptoms of this illness can impact employee motivation, engagement, and performance.
What is burnout?
So much more than being stressed or tired, burnout is recognised by the World Health Organisation as an occupational phenomenon caused by prolonged periods of stress.
Signs & Symptoms of burnout include:
- Continued periods of tiredness, lack of energy – feeling drained
- Self-doubt and negativity
- Unable to focus on tasks
- A sense of being overwhelmed and anxious
Research shows a gender divide, and more than 50% of women in leadership constantly feel burnt out. Work-life balance is also a contributing factor, and working parents are, understandably, impacted, with 47% of mothers and 38% of fathers in the workplace reporting that they often feel burnt out.
The impact of burnout
Burnout is related to workload and time pressure, role conflict and role ambiguity, lack of social support, lack of feedback, lack of autonomy and lack of participation in decision-making. Public Health England
Burnout should never be mistaken for stress, though they are interlinked, since experiencing excess and unmanaged stress for extended periods can lead to burnout. However, whereas we can remove or reduce causes of stress, burnout, as the resulting illness, isn’t as easy to resolve because the individual is left with physical, emotional, and mental symptoms.
A business relies on the performance of its employees to succeed, and when they’re physically unable to meet targets and deadlines because of burnout, the organisation will suffer. It’s known as presenteeism, and it could be costing you £605 per employee annually.
Presenteeism isn’t the only financial and performance-impacting risk, as burnout can lead to employees requiring time off on paid sick leave to recover. In 2018, it was suggested that a business could expect to pay approx. £500 in absenteeism costs per employee annually.
How to prevent burnout
When you start adding up the potential financial losses because of occupational burnout, the benefits of taking preventative measures, even those that require an initial outlay of funds, will likely outweigh the cost of not acting. You may even find that some schemes save the business money. For example, with our Cycle to Work salary sacrifice scheme, businesses can reduce their annual National Insurance Contributions.
Making the purchase of a high-end bike affordable for your employees will encourage them to take up cycling, promoting physical and mental wellbeing.
1. Workplace Culture: Self care
Does your business need to re-focus or reprioritise its most valuable assets?
Changing the culture of a business must start from the top, so employees feel empowered to set boundaries and take time for themselves.
Do your employees sit at their desks while eating lunch or shorten their breaks to get things done?
Employers may appreciate this dedication, but in the long term, it’s not sustainable or in the best interest of your people. Businesses must encourage their employees to take the breaks they’re entitled to and make the lunch hour count: eat, walk, rest and recharge – get a boost of vitamin D (weather permitting).
Create a culture of support and flexibility, and you’ll take positive steps to prevent employee burnout.
2. Recognition and Reward
66% of employees would resign if they didn’t feel appreciated at work.
Whenever we talk about stress in the workplace here at Sodexo, we always acknowledge that every workplace is different. Some roles are more pressured than others - it goes with the territory, and stress can be a motivator. However, employers have a duty of care to monitor and manage stress.
In addition, hard work and performance should be rewarded to keep morale and motivation high. Embed meaningful, inclusive, and supportive recognition and reward programmes into your business to boost your employees’ power to perform.
Never underestimate the positive effects of ensuring your employees feel valued, especially during times of stress.
3. Financial Wellbeing
Burnout may be attributed to the workplace, but external worries can amplify it. The average UK household spends an extra £500 at Christmas, and with the cost-of-living crisis, this additional spend may be harder to manage than usual.
Most businesses will be giving their employees a gift this Christmas, and there’s an opportunity to make a real impact and reduce the risk of burnout. Our Voucher Cheques and eVouchers can be used at high-end retailers, on the high street, and at supermarkets – in-store and online. Your employees can choose how and where to spend their Christmas reward, using it to lessen the financial burden of Christmas.
Our recognition prepaid cashback card is multi-use: an employee benefit, a reward, or even an incentive. However you decide to incorporate it into your business, your employees will benefit today and every day with the chance to earn up to 15% cashback on everyday essentials.
Take steps to prevent employee burnout with Sodexo Engage
It’s the time of year to pay close attention to your employees' physical, mental, and financial wellbeing, and this article touches on some of the ways you can support them throughout their employee journey within your business. For further information, download our free guide on Avoiding Christmas Burnout.
Ready to take proactive steps to boost employee wellbeing in the workplace and beyond? Get in touch with engagement experts today.