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September 17, 2021

A focus on mental health can help reduce employee burnout


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Work-related stress and unhappiness in the workplace have repeatedly been linked to burnout, a state of vital fatigue. The Harvard Business Review writes that high rates of burnout have especially been documented among health care professionals due to the emotionally and physically demanding nature of their job. This may place individuals at a higher risk of experiencing negative mental health consequences such as sadness, anxiety, and stress. 

With good mental health becoming an increasingly important part of a positive work environment, it is important for business owners to acknowledge that the workplace should not have a negative impact on the employees. If it is noticeable that some employees don’t feel well or morale is low, it is worth looking into whether the cause is burnout. 

The first step would naturally be to investigating what could be the reasons why employees are experiencing burnout. 

Reasons for burnout

Research has associated burnout with a number of health issues, including high blood pressure, sleep disorders, depression, and drug usage. In addition, relationships might be ruined and opportunities for careers endangered. Often modifications at work, team, or at an organizational level are required to resolve burnout. There are usually three mains symptoms of burnout, according to the Harvard Business Review: exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.


The main symptom of burnout is exhaustion. It includes deep physical, cognitive and emotional tiredness that impede people's ability to perform productively. This can come from requirements in an ever-present, 24/7 organizational culture, high time pressures, or simply too much to do. It is especially true someone has little control over their work, does not like it, or does not have the ability to do it. They will not be able to concentrate or see the big picture in a state of weariness, and it can be tough to drag themselves both into and out of the workplace, even for ordinary and previously enjoyable duties.


Cynicism is when a person feels as if they aren’t engaged anymore, and it is also sometimes termed as depersonalization. It's a strategy to psychologically detach oneself from work. You feel disconnected, pessimistic, and even callous rather than invested in your jobs, initiatives, colleagues, clients, and other employees. Cynicism can lead to job overload, but it can also arise as a result of excessive conflict, unfairness, and lack of participation in decision-making.


Inefficacy refers to feelings of incompetence, performance, and productivity. Individuals with this burnout symptom feel their skills are slippery and concerned that they cannot succeed or perform particular jobs in specific scenarios. It arises frequently with weariness and cynicism because when people are out of fuel and have lost their connection to work, they cannot perform as best as they want.

After knowing what the possible reasons for burnout are,  employees can also take measures themselves to ensure recovery and prevention. Examples of this include attempts to prioritize their health adapt their perspective to understand what is fixed and changeable, decrease their exposure to stressful activities and relationships and search for good interpersonal links. It is also crucial for leaders to try and keep their team from burnout. They can insist on rest and regeneration, create realistic work boundaries, strengthen a team's sense of control and provide meaningful appreciation. 

Mental health - a priority for modern leaders

Staff need services to assist them when dealing with mental health difficulties that arise throughout their employment. When firms make these services more available in a way that improves employee well-being, they are at the same time investing in ways that give actual benefits and help the improvement of performance. Behavioral issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression have become quite common and are leading to a decrease in well-being. Paired with a worsened mental health are a huge toll of absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased health care expenditures. According to an article by McKinsey & Company, in 2019, burnout was classified as a medical disorder by the World Health Organization. The cause was noted to be prolonged stress at the workplace. But companies have been trying to deal with the increasing cost of healthcare for a while now. Both Starbucks and three domestic automakers spent more on healthcare than

Because of Covid 19, there is an ever more need for a special focus on mental health in the workplace. If working in stressful and unhappy conditions was difficult before, the pandemic has definitely made things worse. Many employees worldwide have begun to fall into depression because of a change in routine, loss of job, harsher working conditions, and especially with physical health. While many issues have become more apparent because of Covid 19, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t there before. It is simply that these last two years have pushed people past the breaking point. This is exactly why companies need to work on creating better working conditions for employees. It is better to work on preventing poor health than to manage it, and it can even be cheaper too. Instead of paying so much for healthcare after employees have been left with no choice but to seek help, investing in mental and physical health programs can be a much better way. 

Supporting employees struggling with mental health

Even in the most uncertain of circumstances, the manager of every field service firm is responsible for the same thing: supporting your team members. This heavily consists of assisting them with their mental health. The good news is that many of the tools you'll need to do so are also those that will help you become an excellent leader. Helping employees who are unwilling to talk about their problems is a difficult endeavor, but it is an employer's responsibility to establish an environment in which employees feel comfortable being honest. Not only do company executives owe a duty to care for their employees, but any negligence can have major consequences for the firm as a whole. 

The following ways can be a ray of sunshine for mentally affected employees by their managers,

  • Changing the employee’s work schedule so that they can start later or end earlier due to medication side effects, or allowing them to travel the night before meetings and stay over to avoid early morning travel.

  • Giving your employee the flexibility and permission to work from home on specific days or on a flexible schedule based on the severity of their symptoms (within a monthly limit).

  • Exempting your employees from attending company parties and client events that involve social interactions, and instead allowing them to put up alternate networking arrangements that yield comparable business results.

Even the Harvard Business Review mentions that offering flexibility in the workplace has a major influence on the employees’ mental health. Some other tips that the HBR focuses on are being vulnerable and talking about struggles, modeling healthy behavior, getting used to more frequent check-ins with staff, and even invest in training. 

There are many ways that field service businesses can implement these tips. Construction companies can offer to compensate accommodation near the worksites instead of having them commute long hours to and back. Cleaning services can have more open conversations with their staff to see if they are not being overworked or underpaid. Gardening businesses can also invest in more training opportunities for their employees or in better equipment to help make their work a little easier and less stressful. All of the above tips can be adapted or combined to suit any field service business’s needs.

It has become quite evident that poor mental health exhibits a direct relationship with employee burnout. Most persons who have mental health difficulties recover successfully if they receive adequate assistance from those around them. For some people, a mental health episode is a one-time occurrence brought on by a series of events. Alternatively, there may be no one cause at all. Others may experience long-term or episodic mental health issues over the course of their lives. Recovery is not the same as a cure; people often learn to live with components of their mental health disorders. Supporting an employee with a mental health problem entails assisting them in recovering, remaining healthy, and ensuring that the workplace is a safe and enjoyable place to be, free of discrimination.

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