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Wellness

Mark Lyttleton: What Is Burnout and How Common Is It Today?

Mark Lyttleton is an angel investor, business mentor and speaker who invests in early-stage businesses that aim to have a positive planetary impact. In addition to providing strategic support, he also provides founders with personal advice, helping them to negotiate the challenges and pressures involved in building, running and growing a successful business. This article will explore an occupational phenomenon called ‘burnout’ and how it has triggered a global human energy crisis.

Simultaneously with climate change, the world is also facing a mounting mental health crisis. With climate change the warning signs are evident for all to see, with wildly swinging temperatures, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and adverse weather events hitting the headlines with increasing frequency. However, on a human level, there is also a worsening human energy crisis. According to one Gallup poll, a staggering 7 out of 10 people globally report that they are suffering or struggling in terms of their mental health.

Experts suggest that the human energy crisis is having a dramatic impact on the working world. Since the start of the pandemic, after-hours work has increased by 28%, while weekend work has increased by 14%, on average. Meanwhile, the length of the average workday has increased by over 13%.

The pandemic forced employers to be more flexible about the how, where and when people worked. However, without intervention, that same flexibility may only add to the current problem.

The human energy crisis demands a new kind of workplace environment that is becoming increasingly important for every organisation. For business leaders, the task ahead requires them to actively reflect the considerations of employees’ energy and wellbeing whilst at work, as well as facilitating to ensure that energy levels are realistic and sustainable.

Throughout history, people have worked hard, pushing their limits. In the face of the human energy crisis, Work Trend Index data indicates that workers have a new way of calculating whether work is ‘worth it’, with 56% of women respondents and 55% of parents agreeing that they are more likely to prioritise their own health and wellbeing over work than previously. Indeed, workers are acting on these instincts in their droves. In 2021, the number one reason for resigning was for mental health or personal wellbeing reasons.

Job burnout is a particular type of workplace stress. It is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also results in a loss of personal identity combined with a reduced sense of accomplishment. ’Burnout’ is not a medical diagnosis, although the impact on both workplace productivity and an individual’s mental health can be vast. Some experts suspect that other conditions, such as depression, could be behind burnout. Research indicates that individual factors, such as family life and personality traits, could increase in individual’s susceptibility to burnout.

In order to counter the risk of burnout, every business needs to empower each and every employee, while simultaneously providing flexibility and support for the holistic wellbeing of all workers. Employers need to consider the entirety of the individual, supporting career development while also providing an open feedback loop to ensure that all employees feel heard and empowered.

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