Burnout Epidemic: International SOS Data Highlights Urgent Need for Action

Burnout Epidemic International SOS Data Highlights Urgent Need for Action
  • 80% of surveyed risk management experts believe stress and burnout will likely have a significant impact on their business and employees this year.
  • 72% believe mental health issues will likely have a significant impact on their business and employees.
  • 75% of surveyed respondents believe people have higher expectations about Duty of Care than ever before, highlighting how issues like burnout and mental fatigue are now more often seen as an organisation’s responsibility to manage.

Kuala Lumpur, 16 May 2024 – In the face of a constant cycle of crises, International SOS, the world’s leading health and security services company, highlights insights from its Risk Outlook 2024 report, with employee burnout due to crisis fatigue mounting as a critical issue. The report looks at the significant challenge for organisations – around two-thirds of surveyed professionals anticipate increased complexity in ensuring the health, wellbeing and security of their workforces this year, a higher proportion than any other time in the past five years. Building upon insights from the report, International SOS underscores the need for organisations to proactively address stress and burnout among their employees.

The cumulative impact of ongoing crises, coupled with personal stressors such as rising living costs, concerns about climate change and political polarisation, has significantly impacted individual wellbeing. This convergence of crises has fuelled a state of permacrisis, where the traditional cycle of crisis and recovery is replaced by a continuous state of flux and uncertainty. Prolonged exposure to crises contributes to a rise in employee burnout, characterised by feelings of emotional exhaustion and reduced productivity. With the possibility of future pandemics and other unforeseen events, employers need to transition from reactive crisis management to proactive preparedness. This shift is crucial to mitigate the negative effects of both permacrisis and burnout within the workforce.

Commenting on these issues, Dr Kate O’Reilly, Regional Medical Director at International SOS, highlights the gravity of the situation: “The current landscape presents a concerning trend of burnout permeating workplaces globally. We are observing a convergence of factors, including increased workloads, a lack of work-life balance and a climate of constant change and unpredictability. These challenges have propelled employees into uncharted territory, where the lines between professional and personal wellbeing blur. The prevalence of burnout brings organisations to a critical juncture demanding immediate attention. Employers must recognise the significance of this issue and implement preventive measures to mitigate its effects. This requires a deep understanding of the root causes and precursors of burnout, followed by a focus on job design and fostering a work environment that prioritises employees’ holistic wellbeing and sustainable performance.”

International SOS offers expert insights and advice to address burnout amongst the workforce:

  1. Recognise the signs: Implement regular check-ins with employees to gauge their wellbeing and identify early signs of burnout. Train managers to recognise signs of burnout and provide them with resources to support their teams effectively. Encourage open dialogue about mental health and destigmatise seeking help for stress-related issues.
  2. Proactive measures: Take proactive steps to address burnout by providing access to mental health support programmes, including counselling services or employee assistance programmes. Organise stress management workshops to equip employees with coping strategies and resilience-building techniques.
  3. Enhance resilience: Foster a culture of resilience within the organisation by promoting work-life balance. Provide resources for employees to seek support if needed. Establish clear protocols for managing stress-related absences and create a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their challenges.
  4. Strategic planning: Develop comprehensive crisis management plans that specifically address burnout and stress-related challenges. Include protocols for managing workload distribution during times of increased stress and establish mechanisms for monitoring and addressing employee wellbeing.
  5. Collaborative efforts: Foster collaboration with external experts and organisations to leverage their expertise in addressing burnout and supporting employee well-being. Share best practices and learnings to collectively strengthen resilience and enhance support systems.
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