In 2019 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reclassified burnout. Before then burnout had been called a stress syndrome, however, the WHO changed its definition to a “syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
Spotting the warning signs of burnout in one of your team, or in yourself, can be difficult. It is important to pay attention to the indicators that precede burnout, and not simply react to the symptoms when they have materialised, as by this time damage has often been done.
Spotting indicators or warning signs in today’s world of remote working is especially challenging, where communication with our teams is limited to video and phone calls, emails and messaging apps. Without the usual face-to-face interactions that might help to pay close attention to a change in behaviour is crucial.
Chief Strategy & Operations Officer at Fletchers Solicitors Alex Hatchman is an experienced award-winning senior executive with a genuine track record of outstanding performance at largely blue-chip businesses including Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Accenture. Here Alex gives 3 ways in which you can spot the burnout warning signs of your team member whilst working from home.
Change in behavioural patterns
One of the first signs a team member is struggling can be a simple change in behaviour. This may be subtle initially. For example, a colleague who is usually happy to talk through a piece of work at length might suddenly become more perfunctory. Or a team member who is normally available on the telephone no longer picks up when you call. If work stress is the root cause and this continues to mount, then by the time emotional distress is evident there are likely to be wider considerations.
Working around the clock
Working around the clock is also a key warning sign and can be difficult to spot as we continue to base ourselves remotely. Watching out for colleagues sending emails late at night or over the weekend is an easy clue. Repeatedly working out of hours suggests they are unable to accommodate their workload during normal hours and are keeping their head above water by working through their backlog after hours.
Lack of self-care & mental breaks
It goes without saying that it is incredibly important at the present time to pay attention to our mental health. Now that our office is our home and our home is our office, having a clear separation between the two is key. If a colleague is regularly unable to switch off and take a lunch break, or even step away from their computer for five minutes to make a cup of tea, it is likely that their workload is unsustainably high and needs positive intervention to address.