Office stress | 1 in 3 workers now consider burnout 'inevitable'

1 in 3 workers now consider burnout 'inevitable'

One in three British workers believes that they will inevitably experience burnout at some point in their career, according to recent research by Asana.

The global team software company surveyed 10,000 workers from across the spectrum of work, including 2,000 in the UK, for its ‘Anatomy of Work Index’ study, which looked at the attitude and behaviour of knowledge workers throughout the world. The study discovered that a whopping 62% of British workers had experienced burnout in the last 12 months, with one in four (21%) experiencing it consistently – more than four times in 2021.

Women were found to be more likely to experience burnout than men (67% of women versus 58% of men) and younger workers experienced it more than older workers, with burnout affecting 72% of workers aged between 16 and 38 as opposed to 56% of workers aged between 39 and 64. However, the results suggest that significantly more than half of all workers are affected by workout, whatever their age.

Burnout is defined by mental health campaigning group Mental Health UK as a state of emotional and physical exhaustion that “can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.” On their website, Mental Health UK point out that “burnout” was recognised in 2019 by the World Health Organisation as an “occupational phenomenon” – and they say that their own research demonstrates that 85% of UK adults correctly identified symptoms of burnout when asked to define it.

Mental Health UK warns that ignoring the signs of burnout can cause further harm to your physical and mental health, with a possible knock-on effect on your ability to do your job and support yourself. They also point out that the lines between home and work life have got increasingly blurred since the start of the pandemic, which saw a massive shift towards remote and eventually hybrid working, and that this could be a contributing factor towards burnout.

This chimes with the Asana research, which discovered that although remote work has helped UK workers to thrive in areas around flexibility and increased focus, 46% say they feel more isolated when working remotely. And although time spent on skilled work has increased from 27% to 32%, and UK workers are missing less deadlines than a year ago (13% versus 21%), 56% find themselves multi-tasking during virtual meetings, with more than half of all workers (55%) checking work emails outside work hours.

Commenting on the research, Simon O’Kane, Head of International at Asana said: “The perception that burnout is an inevitable part of career success suggests that there may be a trend of championing overwork in some UK companies. What’s needed is both a shift in attitude and granular changes to how work is completed up, down and across the organisation. It’s vital that leaders work harder to nip these issues in the bud. If businesses don’t take action, they risk workers falling into a cycle of exhaustion, poor performance, and low morale.”

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