What is burnout?
Formally recognised by the World Health Organisation and added to the International Classification of Diseases in 2020, burnout is syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job.
- Reduced personal efficacy.
According to research from Gallup, the top five root causes of burnout are:
- Unfair treatment at work
- Unmanageable workload
- Unclear communication from managers
- Lack of manager support
- Unreasonable time pressure
Other research points to causes including mismatched values and skills, perceived lack of control, lack of a supporting community and insufficient rewards for effort.
Signs of burnout might include:
- Exhaustion / lack of energy
- Decline in performance
- Sudden changes in mood
- Decreased motivation
- Sleep disorders
- Increased short term illnesses
- Reduced creativity
If you are recognise that a colleague of team member is experiencing burnout, wherever possible have a wellbeing conversation with them. Refer to University report services where appropriate and encourage them to take action to rest and recover. Watch our short videos: Having a conversation about mental health and wellbeing action plans
For people managers, we also have a range of information and resources about wellbeing and mental health available here.
Members of staff experiencing burnout may benefit from 121 coaching available from Staff Learning and Development.
Mind Charity make the following recommendations to individuals on preventing and tackling burnout during COVID-19:
- Make sure you take your annual leave. A lot of us haven't taken as much holiday from work as we normally do as we haven't been able to travel, but time off is important even if you are just at home. It gives you an opportunity to relax and recharge.
- Get enough sleep. Turn off your screens and do something to relax before you go to bed at night. If your mental health is causing you to have problems falling asleep you may find our sleep tips helpful.
- Try to finish work on time. Without the commute and with the pressures of homeschooling, it's easier to work late into the evening to try and get everything done. Once in a while this is ok, but try to make sure you finish work on time most days.
- Schedule in time for pleasant activities: Make time for relaxing, hobbies and calls with friends and family. Sometimes having something non-work related to look forward to can really help.
- A short recorded webinar from Health Assured on burnout
- Mental Health First Aid Podcast with Tony Piper, a Stress and Burnout Coach, including information on how to spot if you are nearing burnout.
Mental health resources for staff
We have a range of mental health resources for staff including counselling, regular webinars and workshops and a 247 helpline. More information on these services can be found here.