Roseann Kelly MBE, CEO of Women in Business - 12/04/2022
Imposter syndrome, office burnout, and the tenuous balance between work and life. All of which makes for familiar reading in this pandemic age, where Covid has conjured new stressors – and magnified those existing ones – across nearly every domain of life.
At least in the workplace, the causes of such stress are apparent. Their solutions, less so. It’s not difficult to see how irregular hours, remote working, and bloated to-do lists can have a bearing on a person’s professional efficacy. But as we enter year three of the pandemic, we’re now beginning to see the lasting impact of chronic workplace stress gone unmanaged.
In fact, the situation is so prevalent across developed nations that the World Health Organisation now classes ‘burnout’ as a globally recognised disease, one which carries three defining dimensions: “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.”
It's small wonder, then, that this simmering sense of unease gave rise to what many now call the Great Resignation, a period of pent-up frustration manifested in workers leaving their jobs – or changing careers entirely – as the world emerged from lockdown. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that job loyalty is a thing of the past, there are tell-tale signs that this employee exodus is far from over.
Take recent research carried out by Personio and Opinium as an example. They found that, across UK and Ireland, 38% of professionals are looking to change jobs in the next six-to-12 months, with worsening work-life balance cited as the number-one reason for keeping one eye trained on the exit door. Or those job alerts dropping into your inbox.
Experiencing itchy feet is one thing, but this trend masks an undercurrent of pandemic-fuelled stress. Teams and individuals running too hot for too long.
This being Stress Awareness Month, it feels apt to take April 2022 as an opportunity to tap the brakes and reflect on current stressors and energy drains. The squeeze of burnout has never been so keenly felt. In our offices and in our homes, particularly when the hybrid working era makes it difficult to establish some distance between the two.
The onus is on employers to enable staff to strike a better balance between work and life. And on an individual level, resilience is perhaps our greatest tool in the fight against burnout. It’s not so much as character trait as a skill in need of constant refinement. Which is why we’re delighted to host a four-week Powerful Resilience Skills programme, run by the fabulous Sarah Travers and her long-term business partner Camilla Long.