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47 per cent of Irish managers believe employees are at risk of burnout, while 36 per cent of Irish employees say their mental health has suffered during Covid-19

A recent study has shown that 47 per cent of managers in Ireland believe their employees may be at risk of burnout, following a change in work pattern or behaviour bought on by Covid-19.

Over a third (36 per cent) of Irish employees stated that their mental health and wellbeing have suffered as result of working longer hours during Covid-19.

Those working remotely recorded a 35 per cent increase in productivity, and an overwhelming 87 per cent of these respondents have felt the pressure to keep productivity levels consistently high to prove the case for working from home post-Covid-19.

Medical diagnosis

Despite ‘burnout’ not being a new phenomenon — it was identified as early as 1974 — the World Health Organisation (WHO) has only officially recognised burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis in its 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) in May of this year.

According to the WHO, “burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. It is characterised by three 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.

The findings come from a report published recently by recruiter Robert Walters, titled Burning the Candle: Strategies to Combat Workplace Burnout.

Whilst two-thirds of Irish professionals (61 per cent) said they believe that wellness policies are important, just a third of companies actually offer what is required by law. According to the company’s Burnout Guide, there are six key areas which can lead to or exasperate workplace burnout:

  1. Unmanageable workload expectations
    Since remote working began, 21 per cent of Irish professionals claim that the pressure to deliver results has caused a negative impact on their mental health or wellbeing.
  2. Lack of autonomy and control
    Over a quarter of Irish professionals (26 per cent) stated that more autonomy whilst remote working was a key factor in their increased productivity. When asked about expectations for the future of work, 29 per cent stated that they would like more autonomy and trust given by the management team.
    According to the findings, 55 per cent of employees are less likely to burn-out if they strongly believe their performance metrics are within their control.
  3. Lack of recognition
    According to the survey, less than 7 per cent of professionals have a clear idea of what it would take to be promoted or to receive a bonus, and nearly a third feel that they are not paid competitively.
  4. Poor company culture
    Seventy-three per cent of Irish professionals stated that they feel it is important that their company organises team bonding activities. However, less than half (43 per cent) of businesses take the time to plan such activities or days.
    Eighty per cent of professionals also highlighted the importance for managers to have an open-door policy in order to prevent frustrations building up; however, over a third felt that they could not approach their leadership team on mental health-related matters.
  5. Lack of equal opportunities and fairness
    Thirty-three per cent of Irish professionals believe that their company is not demographically representative, with a further 52 per cent believing that they have experienced unconscious bias at work. A fifth of professionals believe that lack of diversity in senior management positions holds back their own progression.
  6. Lack of purpose
    Forty-two per cent of survey respondents revealed that they prioritise working for a mission-driven company over other incentive items, such as salary or benefits.