Promoting Employee Wellness in Organisations: Strategies for Managing Burnout
Employee burnout is a major concern for organisations globally, with employees with higher work-related burnout at baseline having a higher number of sickness absence days than employees with lower work-related burnout. In many Asian countries, long working hours and high societal and family pressures to succeed can lead to an intense, stressful work environment that results in burnout. To combat this issue, companies in Asia are increasingly adopting a strategic approach to employee wellness programs in a bid to improve employee care as well as to achieve productivity gains.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the Republic of Korea and Malaysia include mental disorders in their national lists of occupational diseases while in Singapore, compensation has been claimed for PTSD, as well as certain cases of heart attack associated with long working hours or work-related stress. In Japan, death from overwork (karoshi) is well documented.
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It’s characterised by feelings of cynicism, detachment from work, and feelings of ineffectiveness. Burnout can negatively impact productivity, morale, and overall workplace satisfaction, leading to increased absenteeism and higher turnover rates. In severe cases, it can also lead to serious health complications such as depression, anxiety, and heart disease.
Employee Wellness Programmes
Employee wellness programmes can be a successful tool in combating burnout. These employer-sponsored programs are designed to support employees’ physical and mental health and overall well-being. By providing resources for healthier habits, preventative care, and stress management, these programs can foster a more positive and productive work environment.
Advocating for a healthy work-life balance is paramount. This can be achieved by implementing flexible working hours and creating an organisational culture that respects personal time and family commitments. Research has shown that those who spent more time on family than work experienced a higher quality of life.
Employee Recognition and Engagement
Employee recognition can range from praising an employee for a job well done to implementing a formal reward system where employees receive tangible rewards for exceptional performance. This recognition affirms that the company values their work and contribution, which can help foster a positive work environment. Recognising employees’ efforts and contributions can significantly boost morale and motivation, reducing feelings of cynicism and detachment which are key factors in burnout.
Cultivating a Supportive Environment
A supportive environment can reduce the psychological strain on employees, which can, in turn, help maintain productivity and job satisfaction while reducing absenteeism and turnover. Training managers and supervisors to recognise the signs of burnout can lead to early intervention which can also promote open communication, mutual respect, and a sense of belonging.
Employee burnout is a significant concern in Asia due to unique cultural and societal pressures. However, with tailored employee wellness programs that focus on promoting work-life balance, mental health support, a supportive work environment, physical activity, mindfulness, and employee engagement, companies can manage and prevent burnout. By investing in employee wellness, companies can improve their staff’s quality of life and their organisation’s performance.
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