Research provides insight into preventing employee burnout in 2023

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Companies can alleviate burnout by fostering a culture of transparency around wellbeing, says Workday.

A Workday Peakon Employee Voice survey reveals that employee energy levels within a number of sectors, including healthcare, government, consumer goods and manufacturing are declining rapidly.

This, the survey notes, calls for a need for companies to not only support the mental and physical health of employees, but also introduce a greater degree of flexibility where feasible.

The survey, which analysed burnout risk, is based on de-identified employee data gathered from 1.5 million employees across more than 600 companies globally. This includes data from some of the largest companies in South Africa.

According to Workday,the Peakon database consists of nearly 245 million employee survey responses and more than 41 million employee comments from across 160 countries. Global levels of burnout risk are calculated based on the distribution of burnout risk across all companies in the sample.

“Of the 10 industries included in the analysis, seven either maintained the same or saw increased levels of burnout risk between 2021 and 2022. The percentage of companies with higher levels of burnout risk jumped 16 percent in transport, 10 percent in government and four percent across both healthcare and non-profit. Factors such as global supply issues and the pressure on transport workers to keep essential services running throughout the pandemic and ongoing labour strikes in some global regions are all likely contributing to elevated levels of burnout risk within the transport sector,” the survey reveals.

According to the research,only three sectors experienced a decline in the percentage of organisations with higher levels of burnout risk. These are: manufacturing, professional and business services, and financial services.

“Manufacturing saw the steepest decline in the number of companies with elevated levels of burnout risk (-11 percent). This improvement may be explained by the fact that manufacturing had the second-highest mean score increase (0.14) in our “State of Engagement 2022” report, the company notes.

Despite these improvements, 50 percent of organisations in manufacturing currently display higher levels of burnout risk, beaten only by transport and government.

Kiveshen Moodley, Workday’s country manager, South Africa, says South Africa’s workforce is not immune to the workplace pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. “The operating environment in SA presents unique challenges of its own, as loadshedding and other disruptions impact the burnout risk potential of employees.”

“To counter this, South African companies’ people leaders must be integral to the success of health and wellbeing initiatives. This includes everyone from a local team leader to the CEO. Our latest Peakon report identified several key actions which provide a starting point for reshaping organisational culture in a way that helps prevent elevated levels of burnout risk. This includes reviewing practices and policies through a health and wellbeing lens, creating a mental health employee resource group, fostering a culture of transparency around wellbeing, promoting the practice of gratitude and encouraging cross departmental collaboration.”

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