Mayo Clinic® describes job burnout as “a special type of job stress.” It happens when physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combines with thoughts of incompetence or beliefs that the work being performed does not provide value.
Long hours with infrequent breaks, the constant need to do more with less, and the struggle to keep up are contributors to stress in the public sector. These things are also major players when it comes to job burnout. According to Benefits Canada, 58 percent of Canadian workers are stressed every day.
The Guardian® took these findings to new levels in its survey of more than 3,700 public and voluntary service employees. Ninety-three percent of employees—from social workers to housing employees to police and probation officers—indicate they are stressed at work at least some of the time. The good news is job burnout is preventable. Keep reading for several ideas to help prevent job burnout, plus some health and wellness giveaways that can help.
How to prevent job burnout
- Identify stress triggers: Step one in squashing stress is identifying what’s causing it. Stress triggers are unique to each person, but you can help staff determine what’s causing their strife by asking them to document it. Provide journals employees can use to track situations they deem stressful. Suggest they record any actions they take when stressed. Then encourage them to replace any unhealthy behaviours—such as snacking or smoking—with a brief walk, deep breathing or stretching.
- Offer work/life balance: All work and no play is the fast-track route to job burnout. Employers can promote a better work/life balance by modelling it themselves. When employees see senior staff consistently burning the candle at both ends, they may feel an unreasonable expectation to do the same. Flexible scheduling, job sharing and part-time work are other ways to curb burnout.
- Promote health and wellness: Burnout affects physical and emotional health. Back pain, depression, increased illness and obesity are just a handful of potential problems. Promoting self-care and better health and wellness is key to preventing job burnout. Regular physical activity, for instance, not only helps people look and feel better, but it allows them to switch their focus from work to something else. Adequate sleep is also a must! A good night’s rest helps restore both the body and mind. Kick off an internal wellness initiative where team members earn points for these and other healthy behaviours. Reward milestones with tiered health and wellness giveaways ranging from an eye mask or pedometer to a Bluetooth® fitness tracker or headphones.
Preventing job burnout is an important part of on-the-job stress management. Learn what triggers stress in your staff, help them achieve work/life balance, and promote wellness and self care. The result will be happier, healthier employees.