Britain’s small and medium sized firms make up 99.9% of the UK’s private sector businesses, which employ nearly three-fifths of its workforce and account for 48% of the turnover. But full-on pursuit of commercial success may be putting owners and employees of these businesses at increased risk of ill health and burnout. Described as a type of stress, office burnout can manifest itself as a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.
Unfortunately, long working hours are often embedded into SME culture. According to our recent research:
- 47% of employees in SMEs across the UK said they regularly work 4 or more hours of overtime per week
- 29% of these put in 7 or more hours
- For half (52%), the extra hours are unpaid
- Over half (54%) of employees have continued to work after putting children to bed
- 27% have cancelled family time and 19% have missed a child’s event such as a school play
- 21% of employees take fewer than 30 minutes for lunch
- Watch our short animation below, to help employers spot the signs of burnout, in your staff or yourself.
Help manage stress in the workplace
Stress usually comes when pressure seems unremitting and an individual feels unable to deal with it, leading to extreme worry and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
This can have an adverse effect within the workplace on both your employee, the team around them and the wider business if left unmanaged.
It’s not possible, nor indeed desirable, to ‘stress-proof’ your workplace, however there are a number of things that you can do as a boss to reduce the likelihood of unnecessary stress occurring:
- Prioritise work and try to ensure unnecessary tasks are eliminated
- Ensure your team are adequately trained to do the work expected of them and regularly review their training needs
- Wherever possible, give people control over the work they do and encourage them to take responsibility for how they do the work
- Try to ensure people have some variety in the work they do
- Be aware of any signs of conflict within the team and be ready to intervene to resolve any issues
- Look out for signs of bullying behaviour and be ready to deal with it directly
- Communicate regularly and clearly so that everyone is clear about what is happening at work
- Make sure each individual in the team works to clear, agreed objectives, reviewing these periodically to ensure they remain up to date
- Provide regular, constructive feedback – not just at appraisal time but on a more frequent basis
- Encourage a healthy work-life balance – ensure that your people take their annual leave and discourage your team from regularly taking work home in the evenings or at weekends.