Are You Contributing to Occupational Burnout?
For some the digital age could also be known as the “zombie” age. For the first time in history, people are plugged in 24/7. The Web does not sleep. Having access to unlimited information online is a relatively new issue that has changed day to day habits of anyone with access to a mobile phone. As short as fifteen to twenty years ago, the majority of people did not have access to the Internet from a mobile device, so people were able to “unplug” and go about their routine. Fast forward to 2016…
From a work perspective, in this digital age, employers often equip their teams with a smartphone, tablet or both.
In some industries it has almost become an expected practice to be “on call” in the evening or on the weekend. In fact, more and more organizations are paying less for being “on call” or are not paying their employees at all with an expectation/assumption that employees should be checking their email or working “after hours”. It seems that expectations have changed. Communications have changed. Whether it is via a text message, an email or even a tweet, employees are often expected to be available for work communication at all hours of the day.
At the end of the day, it is easy to see how this might be upsetting the work-life balance that so many seek.
Are you causing occupational burnout and don’t even know it?
Do you equip your team with phones or tablets? Is the expectation that they should be plugged into work all of the time? If your company demonstrates these practices, you just may be causing occupational burnout without even knowing that you are doing it.
There is still only 24 hours in a day…. According to a Gallup survey conducted in 2014, adults in the U.S. reported working an average of 47 hours per week, and forty percent of employees claimed to work at least 50 hours per week. The typical workweek is now longer than the typical 40 hours. Of course this can change with industry, but for decades the standard workweek was 40 hours.
The Gallup data also suggests that 18% of workers work a grueling 60 hours or more per week. That translates into 12-hour days from Monday to Friday or into shorter weekdays with lots of time spent working on the weekends. Getting back to the expectation of always being on, having a mobile device to check and respond to emails can contribute to this extra activity which in turn has an impact on work-life balance.
This is not sustainable as it seems inevitable that many of these employees and business executives will suffer from job stress or occupational burnout at some point in their careers. Job stress and occupational burnout is often caused by unclear job expectations, poor relationships with co-workers and management, work-life imbalance and working at a job you don’t like. Placing an expectation that one is expected to check and reply to emails at all hours of the day means that you never really turn off your work.
Research from StaplesAdvantage.com stated that last year 52% of workers felt overworked and burned out. 62% of these workers stated that burn out decrease productivity. Furthermore 59% of employees stated that flexible schedules are a key factor in increasing productivity.
It should come as no surprise that one of the things that job seekers are looking for when accepting a position with an organization is flexible working conditions. People are on duty 24/7. They need downtime to unwind. They need to get away from their work to decompress and find that work-life balance.
In today’s workforce, companies and employees are expected do more with less. However, in this day and age you have to support your teams. Your people can be, and quite often are, your greatest asset to your organization. You can create brand evangelists for your organization by taking care of your staff and by helping reduce job stress and occupational burnout.
3 Easy Ways to Reduce Occupational Burnout
- Set Clear Expectations – If employees are provided with a mobile phone or device, set clear expectations for usage. Set clear expectations in the job requirements. Identify the duration of what the typical work week is. For example is it 35 hours per week or 50 hours per week?
- Provide Flexible Working Conditions – work with your team to achieve the proper and necessary work-life balance. Listen to your employees and gain a better understanding of what is important to them.
- Allow employees to uncover meaning in their work – Work with your staff members to identify the most fulfilling elements of their work and provide an environment where they can dedicate more time to these elements. Work with your employees to better align their responsibilities with their strengths and interests.
Job stress and occupational burnout can lead to low morale, decreased productivity and higher turnover. Why not take the steps to reduce job stress and burnout? From an employee perspective there are additional means to reducing job stress and occupational burnout as seen here.
There is no question that the digital age has created an “always on” mentality. That does not mean that we should be “on” all of the time. Job stress and worker burnout is a real thing. Anxiety levels are at all-time highs. You have to think that being “on” all of the time is a contributing factor. As an employer you may inadvertently be contributing to this “always on” mentality without even knowing it.
For assistance with your HR Strategy or for recruiting help, please contact us at 778-484-0161.