We’ve all experienced stress in some capacity, but research carried out by Axa shows SMEs to be a particular hotbed for office burnouts. The study reveals that employees of small and medium sized businesses typically work overtime – reportedly, almost half spend more than 4 hours longer at the office each week than they are contracted to and 21% take less than 30 minutes for lunch.
Especially within smaller workforces, it’s easy for limited staff to become overstretched in their capacity. And as IT management and data handling become increasingly important duties within all businesses, more and more employees are taking on responsibilities outside of their job descriptions that they’re struggling to juggle.
But whatever the motivation behind workers putting in extra time – whether in pursuit of career progression or as a result of overhead pressures – it can have a significant detrimental impact upon physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
Where there’s smoke there’s fire
An office burnout can manifest itself in many different ways, so how can you spot the symptoms? The warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation
- Low energy and productivity levels
- A cynical or critical attitude to work
- Absence of satisfaction from achievements
- Altered sleep or eating habits
- Unexplained pain, including headache and backache
- Feelings of anxiety or panic
Putting out the flames
For such a widespread and complicated issue, there’s never an easy solution. However, there are a number of steps that both employers and individuals can take to prevent these symptoms from sparking a full-blown burnout:
- Work out whether the cause is internal or external
Are employees choosing to put more hours in, or are they facing pressure to do so? It’s important to make workers aware of the warning signs, and encourage different behaviours if you think they’re pushing themselves too much. Similarly, it’s vital to take a look at your own actions, especially if you think you might be expecting too much from them. Once you’ve figured out whether the stress is being caused by an inside or outside force, the root of the problem becomes easier to tackle.
- Work to the clockIf your workers are guilty of arriving early, leaving late and working over lunch, encouraging them to be a bit stricter with themselves about the hours they spend in the office could help their wellbeing massively. Even if they ease themselves in by starting with a few days a week, leaving the office on time and spending the rest of the evening relaxing could help reverse any burnout symptoms.
- Manage time effectively
Becoming better at managing time is key, especially in a small workforce. No matter how good an employee is at their job, they are still only one person and can’t possibly do the work of three. Instead, being encouraged to prioritise and organise time effectively should help them to figure out the capacity they do have, and realise when they’re being overstretched.
- Ask for help
This applies to everyone. Whether someone is feeling over-stretched as a manager or employee, then air your concerns to see if extra support is available. If you’re worrying about the wellbeing of your workers, then look at what might be causing them undue stress. Have they been given too many different responsibilities, or a job that they’re not equipped to do? If you’re not in position to take on any more employees, then consider enlisting the help of professional services to ease the load of overworked members of your team.
Did you know that Q2Q provides managed IT support services to SMEs? We know how complex and time-consuming IT can be, so we act as your external department, freeing up critical time and resources for you and your valued employees. Contact us to find out more about how we can help!