A highly relevant session at the Indaba focused on burnout, its causes, and suggested remedies.
During the last session of the HR Indaba, Lana Hindmarch co-founder of Breathe said the lack of boundaries between managers and employees was one of the causes of increased burnout in the workplace.
Burnout, which is rampant in the workplace, is defined by the World Health Organization as a syndrome caused by workplace stress that is not successfully managed.
Speaking in a panel discussion, Lana said employers continue to build up burnout symptoms in employees by offering wrong solutions. She mentioned that employers offered benefits and rewards to employees without checking how they [rewards] affected them [employees].
“Surveys and all the benefits are great, but the lack of boundaries from bosses can cause burnout. For example, being rewarded for being the most hardworking employee by bosses who text and email after hours or during the weekend can cause burnout,” she said.
She added that it is important for employers to support their employees and create a connection of the support to the company’s values and culture. “If companies do not support their employees, then we are wasting time, because the cases will continue, until we see employees quietly quitting their jobs. Let’s empower our staff: when people ask for water, don’t give them ice-cream,” Lana said.
Judy Klipin, burnout prevention and recovery coach, explained that burnout was caused by doing too much of the wrong things that cause fear and anxiety. She described burnout as an exhaustion by life, “to a point where you have nothing left to give”.
She added that the concept of burnout was a sustainability problem for an organisation’s lack of boundaries, and explained that although burnout was complex, it was not complicated, because it can be reversed with support, unlike depression.
“Burnout is a long-term disease because it takes time to build up. If we don’t want to be burnt out, we need to build energy reserves within ourselves to draw from,” she said. According to Judy, employers need to create an organisational culture and environments that support employees to prevent burnout.
“Employers need to help their staff to create clear boundaries to draw the analogy between money and energy,” she said.
She explained: if we don’t want to be burnt out, we need to save energy to draw from, as with money. If you spend money you do not have, you will be bankrupt, which is the same with energy.”
Weighing in on Judy's theory, Kyle Chetty, HR executive at Autoboys, added that it was important for companies to assess their toxic traits .
He added that company’s cultures encouraged toxic traits, for example: “Inviting employees to meetings that have nothing to do with them is toxic, because they leave the meeting drained, having failed to contribute.”
Kyle mentioned that it was also imperative to encourage line managers to empower themselves so that they can have good energy to transfer to their colleagues.
“We need to be proactive,” he added. “Coaching is very necessary to relieve burnout. We need to realise that one wellness day is not enough, because employees still feel unsafe after that day,” he added.