Workplace ‘burnout’ costs employers £43 billion

A study by accounting firm Deloitte and ‘Mind’, a mental health charity, has found that the 15% of workers suffering from poor mental health symptoms cost businesses an extra £43 billion per year.

This £43 billion covers aspects such as paid sick leave, hiring temporary employees to cover absent workers and paid annual leave which many workers utilise to disguise their mental health issues.

The study coincides with ‘Hunt for Happiness’ week – an event created by the Society of Happy People to encourage people to think about and pursue ways to improve your mental health.

(Credit: Pixabay)

Burnout‘ refers to the overwhelming feeling of physical and mental exhaustion due to prolonged stress and anxiety. Many employees across every sector have experienced burnout to a degree, despite an increase in mental health awareness in the workplace. The Deloitte report predicts that poor mental health will become more prevalent than physical illnesses in the workplace:

“Mental health problems will soon surpass other work-related illnesses such as musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory diseases, cancer, skin issues, and hearing damage”

Chris, a community mental health nurse, believes that while attitudes towards poor mental health are changing, some workers are still reluctant to seek medical help and assistance from their employers:

“1 in 10 people, at some point, will have mental health which interferes with their day-to-day life, but many workers don’t feel supported by their employers with lack of training in some small businesses especially”

“Some employers do make an effort, often due to a personal experience with mental illness – they might have had a friend or relative who has struggled with poor mental health”

In Chris’ experience, around 90% of patients are employed, including housewives and carers, with many of his patients being seasonal workers, council workers and employees of large businesses. Due to the rising cost of living, stagnant wages and “unsympathetic” bosses, workers are under more pressure than ever to work harder and achieve more than their pay level warrants.

(Credit: BTC Mental Health at work 2019)

The Deloitte study references ‘leaveism’ – when employees are unable to disconnect from work even when at home. The increasing ability to remotely access work from home coupled with feeling guilty for switching off blurs the line between work and home, inevitably leading to burnout.

As well as ‘leaveism’, workers often participate in ‘presenteeism’ – working when they are unfit to work – in a bid to not address and discuss their mental health issues with their employers. However, in recent years mental health problems have been destigmatised greatly, with many employers encouraging workers to discuss how they feel with appointed mental health officers. These officers receive training in how to deal with and support colleagues who suffer from poor mental health as 1 in 4 workers feel they could face “negative consequences” if they make a formal report on their health.

Help Guide (Credit: Deloitte)

‘Healthy Working Lives’ is an organisation aimed at employers who are looking to improve the wellbeing of their employees. They offer a variety of resources such as training for management and mental health officers as well as paperwork designed to give workers the chance to anonymously raise their concerns about their own or a fellow employee’s mental health. The popularity of organisations such as Mind and Healthy Working Lives has helped to destigmatise mental illness in recent years, however, it’s clear that much more must be done to relieve the mental health crisis amongst the country’s workers.

Looking to improve your mental health and wellbeing outside of work? Some local gyms such as Projekt 42 focus on not only improving your fitness but your mental wellbeing too.



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