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The Cost of Employee Burnout

Employee wellbeing is on the agenda for most employers. It has been for a while but Covid has certainly fast forwarded the need for employers to step up on this area.


There was a time, and to be fair it may still be the case in some workplaces, that employee wellbeing was viewed as a benefit offered. Something to which employers would use to attract employees but not necessarily something that was consciously considered in how those same employers expected people to work. We have also seen and heard stories from some of the more “attractive” employers who offer great supports in this area but with an understanding that for these added benefits you will pay with your time and energy by having to regularly work in excess of your contracted hours – that’s the trade-off.


Let’s look at employees like any other resource in the business and when you run a stress test or risk assessment on it you identify possible barriers to full productivity. You then determine if you can firstly remove that risk or reduce it. We know with certainty that wellbeing of people is at a worrying height in terms of the impact mental health is having on our population. We can read the statistics in the news, we can hear and see it amongst our friends and family, so we know it is a very real product of living in our world today.


Staying in the commercial headspace for another moment let’s consider the actual cost of an employee in the workplace who is negatively suffering with their wellbeing and mental health. They may not be performing at 100% capacity. You are paying them the same money but not getting the same return. They may need to take time off work. Whether you pay them sick pay or not there is still a monetary cost to your business. They may be negatively impacting other people in the business because of their behaviour and you may lose a higher performing staff member because of this. So as a business if you were able to put structures in place that reduced risks to their productivity would you do it?


Granted, not all employees who are managing challenges with their mental health are doing so because of work but we do know there are plenty of examples when this is the case. With the threat of the workplace being a factor to compromise someone’s mental health would it not make commercial sense to ensure you removed some of the risk factors that contribute to this or at least tried to reduce them? Wouldn’t there be a better return on investment with this approach than simply offering wellbeing benefits as a separate stand-alone option?


Now, let’s switch back to the human side of all of this. We see lots of businesses promote themselves as sustainable and environmentally friendly companies. That’s a good thing but as a business we need to consider the environment inside our company as much as outside of it. We do have a responsibility as an employer to ensure we operate and conduct ourselves in a way that allows for sustainability of performance. We cannot work employees so much that they burnout and leave and run that as a repetitive pattern of labour supply for the business. A business that applies this strategy will pay a premium for it at the time and in the longer term will see any value they get from this approach diminish as the available talent pool become aware of the company culture that exists.


Let’s stop talking of employee wellbeing as an add on benefit to working with us but instead review how we ask our employees to work. That is where we can truly support our employees and that is where they can actually benefit.





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