And beware of well-intentioned advice like “Why don’t you do yoga or meditate!” Yes these practices reduce stress, but if it’s just another to do, they have the opposite effect. Or, as was the case for me during my burnout, only make the feeling of tightness greater.
But so what can you do when you feel someone needs help?
Burnout prevention at work
First and foremost, it’s about creating a framework that allows people to admit to burnout without being prejudged.
This means seminars or trainings that allow employees to face the topic. To know what are signs and learn techniques that make more resilient. But also to release the stigma associated with illnesses like burnout.
This is about culture change. Here’s an example. Let’s take company A. Here the boss comes at 7 in the morning and doesn’t go home until 6:00 pm. Meetings are scheduled, quite naturally, after this time. Behind closed doors, people talk about the colleague who has been “sick” for a long time – but everyone knows that it’s become too much for him.
Or let’s take company B. Here, too, a lot of work is done, but the boss also says sometimes. Guys, after 10 hours of meetings, nothing productive is going to happen today. Let’s continue tomorrow. There are trainings to inform the employees about burnout and to give them tools to protect themselves. These are work time, of course. Also time to work out your own strategies. Everyone is aware that there are situations in which work and private life become so much together that one has to take a step back. The slogan applies: “Take care of yourself, because only a mentally healthy employee can also perform.” Because, yes, of course, that’s what the workplace is all about. Which of these two companies would you rather work for?
If you look at Mind Matters Inc.’s paper “The Extent of the Global Mental Health Challenge,” which clearly shows that employers who pay attention to this issue have higher performing employees and programs that address mental health have very good ROIs, you have to wonder why everyone isn’t doing it.
Here are just a few numbers from the study:
Preventive programs that raise awareness and promote culture change can have ROIs as high as 6:1. And even programs that take effect in an emergency still have an ROI of 3:1.
Burnout intervention at work
First of all, look for the conversation. A sincere “How are you?” can sometimes work wonders. Addressing “I’ve noticed you seem very tired lately, is everything okay?” without accusation. Simply offer an open, non-judgmental ear.
Especially during an acute burnout, questions like “How can we support?” might already overwhelm the employee. It is better to make concrete offers of help. These can be discussions with external people to whom contact is made. Or, if it turns out that more time is needed in the private sphere, offer models that provide support.
Give security. It is ok if you need time for yourself – your job is still safe.
The main thing here is to get the employee the help he needs and to give him the space he needs.