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02.12.2020

Employee burnout and the importance of keeping working time records

By Paul O’Connor

We’ve all seen the eye-catching images aimed at wellbeing in staff canteens and office hallways. They often focus on ‘work-life balance’, ‘mental health’, and ‘burnout’.

However, the coronavirus pandemic means many employees are now working from home. So, this prompts the question: are homeworkers at the risk of burnout?

What is employee burnout?

Employee burnout is a very real form of work-related stress. In simple terms, it’s a state of emotional, physical, or mental exhaustion. It’s a broad term, and sometimes not considered with proper concern.

Not understanding what burnout is can have severe implications for both the employee and their performance. If your employee is underperforming, it will have a knock-on effect on the success of the business.

Signs of burnout

Signs of burnout usually include cynicism, irritability, or a lethargic approach to working. These are somewhat difficult signs to pick up on if your employees are working from home. Burnout can affect how your employees communicate with one another and impact their performance. It could also get worse if you fail to address it with the employee. This may leave you asking what’s causing their burnout?

There’s no one issue in the workplace that causes burnout ─ it can arise from one of many. For example, employees may need more clarification on what the business’s expectations are as they work from home. Or, their working hours may not be monitored, resulting in them working excess hours. This can result in your employee feeling overworked and undervalued.

If these issues aren’t managed, it could result in the employee going out on long-term absence. It could also result in an employee raising a formal grievance in line with your internal policies and procedures.

Working time records

Keeping working time records is essential. Doing so will not only help employees apply structure and prevent burnout, it’s also a requirement from a legal perspective.

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 is specific in its wording on weekly working time and daily rest periods. Unfortunately, these rules have blurred in a coronavirus pandemic. There are penalties for breaching this Act, and the personal impact as discussed, can lead to burnout.

The role of an Employee Assistance Program

If one of your employees is suffering from work-related stress, discuss the support resources available to them. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP), for example, is an excellent resource to help your employees at risk of burnout.

An EAP includes:

  • 24/7 telephone support, 365 days a year.
  • Online health assessments.
  • HSE approved personal coaching.

And many more helpful tools.

Need our help?

For complimentary advice on burnout and working time records from an expert, our advisors are waiting to take your call. Call us on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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