Burnout is a serious and growing issue with the World Health Organisation recently classifying it as a workplace disease for the first time.
Chronic stress has always been a difficult area for employers to deal with, but this is arguably becoming even harder as workplace factors like remote connectivity, presenteeism and leaveism combined with external factors like Brexit anxiety or "branxiety" take their toll on employees.
In episode four of our employment law podcast, Employment Law Focus (also available on your preferred podcast app) we share some top tips for dealing with this issue:
1. Make sure the relevant teams know what burnout is and what it's caused by so that you can manage the risk and identify any red flags that someone might be suffering.
2. Consider what you can do to minimise the risk of burnout in your organisation and remember initiatives like wellbeing days can be effective, but may be undermined if there is also a cultural issue that's not addressed (like the perception that working late and responding to emails while you're on holiday will help you succeed or get a promotion).
3. Train managers on the potential red flags to look out for, like that worrying 4am email and erratic behaviour for them. Some employees find it difficult to raise an issue themselves for fear of being seen to be failing at their job, so don't expect them to always speak up.
4. Regular supervision meetings can help to ensure that issues are quickly addressed and that the employee isn't left to struggle on their own.
5. Consider if you need to make any adjustments to support an employee who is suffering with burnout e.g. to your practices, the working environment or that person's role. You may have a duty to make "reasonable adjustments" under the Equality Act 2010.
6. Conduct a stress risk assessment with the employee at the start of the process to work out what the stress triggers are and the likelihood of them cropping up in the workplace.
7. Consult with the employee and keep a note of that conversation – it can help you understand their view on what's needed and help minimise legal risk.
8. Refer to the examples of reasonable adjustments and real life scenarios in the Statutory Code of Practice on the Equality Act 2010. Occupational health can also be a useful port of call as to what adjustments might be relevant and pertinent, as can the employee's GP.
9. If you seek an occupational health report, make sure you get what you need from this. Frame the instruction letter properly and ask for clarification if anything isn't clear.
10. Finally, remember that other people in the business also have a role to play e.g. managers and colleagues, who may be looking to pass responsibility onto HR. Engage them early on in the process and explain why it's important that they're involved and their role.
The episode is crammed with top tips and insights from our employment experts, from what causes burnout to how companies are managing the risks and the lengths employers can be expected to go to ensure that someone can remain in employment.
If you have any questions you'd like us to answer in a future episode, please email email@example.com and if you've enjoyed listening, please rate us and write a review.