Without a doubt, it is a stressful time right now for businesses and their employees in the South West.  Whether your business is having to think fast and diversify to be something ‘Covid safe’, or the additional administration around employee furloughs and remote working. Perhaps your business is experiencing financial pressures to keep afloat? Do you have employees managing difficult situations and torn between the life and work balance? On top of all these stresses, sadly some people will be experiencing sudden grief and loss right now too.

Mental Health Awareness day was last week (4 February), yet as the years continue to pass it is apparent, we do not need a specific day, week or month to reach out and talk about mental health – it should be talked about with our employees and at the forefront of our minds every single day.  Progress is being made to break the stigma surrounding mental health, stress and burnout but it is slow progress, and we need to continue to put it at the top of the agenda in the workplace, now more than ever.

One of our Bristol based defence clients recently received training from us on Mental Health Awareness Day: ‘Managing Stress and Burnout’. Our HR Consultant, Gina Childs, commented: “The training I provided was well received and provoked lots of positive discussions from the group.  Now the managers have the skills and tools to identify signs of stress and feel confident in supporting their colleagues.”

According to the charity MIND: “One in four people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.” This statistic may come as a surprise to some and emphasises just how important it is to ensure employees feel secure and comfortable in the workplace.

Burnout is a fairly new term that has only recently started to be recognised. Below will help you recognize the warning signs of burnout so you can understand and begin to identify ways to help team members or yourself.

Warning Signs of Burnout

  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Cynicism
  • Feeling ineffective
  • Forgetfulness or impaired attention
  • Getting a cold/ill more frequently
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Negativity
  • Isolation
  • Increased irritability
  • Lack of productivity
  • Anxiety
  • Poor performance

If you suspect someone is experiencing burnout, or to avoid it getting to that point, here are a few tips to support you:

  1. Talk and Listen: it is nothing new or exciting. Once again, the power to effectively communicate and openly ask your employees the questions: “Are you ok?”, “How are you feeling?” go a long way. It is vital you don’t just ask the questions and move on but actively listen as well. And if you recognise triggers then action and delve further. It takes great courage and strength for an employee to be open and honest, so if an employee has confided in you please look to get them support and guidance. We are here to support you with any difficult conversations too, just contact your usual HR Consultant.
  2. Work Groups: depending on the size of your business, could you create internal work group which can be run regularly to help everyone identify the signs and also share their personal experiences. Honesty from top management will help employees feel less embarrassed or ashamed to admit they are suffering with mental health issues.
  3. Company Culture: making employee wellbeing a priority in the business by looking at the culture of the firm. What do you currently do to increase awareness of mental health and support employees? Do you do enough? Do you have support in place when someone requires help? Once again, we can support you further here, please do get in touch.

Finally, it is important to remember if an employee broke their leg, you would support with making reasonable adjustments so that they could continue to work. The same support should be applied if an employee reaches out to discuss the need for support for a mental health issue.

We always love to hear from you and your thoughts on this blog piece. If you would be interested in us running a ‘Managing Stress and Burnout’ course with your teams to explore this further or you’d like to consider a company culture review then please do get in touch with your HR Consultant or contact us directly; CitrusHR Consulting, call us on 0844 854 6704 or email us at info@citrushrconsulting.com.