The Silent Struggle: How Leadership Styles Can Lead to Burnout and What You Can Do About It
The Oxford Group
23 March 2023
Burnout has become an increasingly common problem in the workplace, and it's not hard to see why. With hectic schedules, long hours, and the constant push to do more with less, employees are often left feeling overworked and overwhelmed. For leaders in organisations, addressing burnout among employees should be a top priority. In this article, we'll explore the causes and consequences of burnout and what leaders can do to prevent it.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. It is typically characterised by feelings of cynicism, depersonalisation, and a lack of personal accomplishment. Burnout often occurs when individuals feel overloaded, unsupported, or when they lack control over their work. According to a recent study by Deloitte, more than 77% of employees have experienced burnout at some point in their careers.
However, burnout can be avoided by making a conscious effort to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Setting achievable goals, delegating duties, and managing workload can go a long way in preventing a burnout. As Simon Sinek says, "Leadership is not about being in charge. It's about taking care of those in your charge." By taking care of oneself, leaders can model self-care for their followers, promoting good mental health practices in the workplace.
The Costs of Burnout
Burnout has far-reaching effects on individuals, organisations, and society as a whole. For employees, burnout can result in reduced job satisfaction, decreased mental and physical health, and decreased productivity. For organisations, the costs of burnout include increased absenteeism, higher turnover rates, and decreased profitability. According to a study by the World Health Organisation, burnout costs the global economy an estimated $322 billion per year.
Preventing Burnout in the Workplace
Leaders in organisations have a crucial role to play in preventing burnout among employees. It's important to note that burnout is not a personal failure, but rather a systemic problem that requires organisational-level solutions. Here are some strategies that leaders can employ to prevent burnout in the workplace:
- 1. Create a positive work culture "Culture is the sum of all the things that people do, believe, and value that make your company unique and creates the environment that drives performance. It’s the combination of the small things that ultimately result in the creation of a great place to work." - Barry Libert, CEO of OpenMatters. Positive work culture can go a long way in preventing burnout. This includes creating an environment where employees feel supported, valued, and encouraged to take breaks and prioritise self-care. Leaders can model this behaviour themselves by taking time off, leaving work on time and being proactive in their approach to mental health for themselves and their teams.
- 2. Provide support and resources "When people go to work, they shouldn't have to leave their hearts at home."- Betty Bender Providing employees with resources and leadership support is crucial in preventing burnout. This includes offering employee assistance programs, flexible work arrangements, and resources for mental health.
- 3. Encourage healthy work habits "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney Leaders can encourage healthy work habits by emphasising the importance of regular breaks, a positive attitude, and encouraging their teams to get up and move regularly. Setting a leadership work culture that includes mental health activities and encouraging exercise outside of normal work activities can reset someone’s mind and make sure they come back refreshed to tackle the day’s work.
In conclusion, burnout is a widespread problem in the workplace that requires organisations to take action. By focusing on creating a healthy work culture, providing support and resources, and encouraging healthy work habits, leaders can prevent burnout and create a more productive and engaged workforce. It is important to remember that employee well-being is paramount to not only their productivity but is essential to the smooth running and success of an organisation. To find out more information about how we develop the skills, behaviours and mindsets of managers and leaders worldwide request a call back from our team of experts.