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By Claire Cohn
Approximately 1 in 4 employees say their top work priority is just being present at work. These employees who admit that simply showing up is #1 are at high risk for job burnout.
Why is this so?
Prolonged employee stress due to increasingly demanding workloads (with fewer new hires and limited career ladders) causes burnout and reduced productivity. One person is often doing the work of two and probably without support staff. The actual state of burnout isn’t just a bad day or a bad week—it’s when an employee is so consumed with symptoms (i.e. headaches, nausea, neck or back pain, anxiety) that they can’t function. It can sneak up on the best performers who might be workaholics also.
In addition to accumulating workloads, employees may be unhappy or dissatisfied with their job. Perhaps the absence of a career ladder is demotivating for younger employees, and they are bored and stuck in a dead-end job.
So how do wellness programs address the above burnout issues primarily related to workplace stress? Below are five steps to establish a healthier workplace and happier employees.
Five Easy Action Steps
Put Health First. Onsite wellness programs check vital metabolic signs and assess lifestyle behaviors that could be depleting job performance, for example: abuse of alcohol or substances, poor eating habits, no exercise program, lack of social life.
Create Resilience. Exercise is the quickest way to feel better and build resilience. Building a resilient workforce will counter chronic illness such as migraines, back pain, and digestive problems. Many people suffer from sleep disorders or find it difficult to concentrate on work.
Apply the Mind and Body Connection to wellness. Wellness practices that build resilience also improve mental health. Employees who set goals for weight reduction, exercise or diet are taking control of their lives and creating a healthy worklife balance. Mind-Body tools such as relaxation skills, mindful meditation and Qi Gong movement also reduce mental stress.
Provide Socializing Activities within employee groups and teams. Games and playfulness in the workplace decreases feelings of isolation. At Search Engine People, an Ontario company, the CEO said, “we need our people to be healthy, be happy—if you’re not happy, you won’t be able to take care of customers.” The CEO initiated ping-pong challenges in a game room useable any time of the day. The challenges break up the isolation, create camaraderie, and prevent sitting too long at computer stations—and are, not to mention, FUN.
Adopt Regular Alone Times. Individuals need to practice taking breaks to energize and rejuvenate during the workday. The time-out practice could be walking 20 minutes or taking 10 minutes of relaxation sitting outside and breathing fresh air.
What do you do to prevent burnout at work? Please share your comments below.
Claire Cohn, owner of On Your Feet Wellness, is a health and wellness expert with over 20 years of experience as an organization consultant, movement therapist, and health educator.