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Burnout at work on the rise

Concern businesses have been caught napping.


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A growing number of Kiwi workers are on the edge of burnout as data shows 37 per cent have either experienced burnout themselves or have worked with someone who has. 

Women are more likely than men to experience burnout – 41 per cent of females surveyed saying they had – while government, healthcare workers and employees in organisations with more than 500 staff members are at significantly higher risk. 

The findings came from the Skill’s Consulting Group’s (SCG) Wellbeing Index 2022 in which 1834 people across 11 industries were surveyed. 

SCG General Manager Wellbeing, Jane Kennelly, says burnout is the number one issue facing Aotearoa’s employees and the question is, are businesses aware of the impact on the whole organisation? 

“Burnout is insidious and creeps up on an individual,” she says. “Based on our research, I think businesses need to wake up to the fact that it’s not just the individual who is affected, it can have implications on the whole organisation. 

“Knowing who is at risk, how you can support people through it and how you can stop it happening is essential for a business to thrive.”

Kennelly says an issue once confined to the health pages of women’s magazines under motivational headlines about beating adrenal fatigue, burnout has become one of the most pervasive issues of the 21st Century. 

“It is characterised by exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of reduced professional ability. The result is a drop in productivity and the growth of a negativity which can spread throughout your team.”  

SCG, which works with over 5000 employers in New Zealand, released their findings in a 33-page report, Burnout – a business issue that can’t be ignored 

Kennelly says the report shows clearly how deep and damaging the issue of burnout is if it goes unchecked.  

“While New Zealand’s overall wellbeing at work score was 61 per cent, it dropped to 51 per cent for those who have experienced burnout and Job satisfaction fell a massive 20 points from 78 per cent to 58 per cent among those who have experienced burnout.  

“Satisfaction is a key driver when it comes to employee retention – the less satisfied someone feels, the more likely they are to seek a new role costing your business time and money – and the loss of a valued employee,” she says. 

The index shows workers over 25 are most at risk, peaking among the 45-to-54-year age group. 

Among those who have already experienced burnout, either directly or by proxy, 78 per cent said they wanted a job that made them feel worthwhile, 77 per cent said they wanted a supportive manager, and 74 per cent wanted a wellbeing culture in the workplace.  

Millennials are one of the groups at highest risk, and they have asked for some specific support. High on their agenda is good work/life balance facilitated by mental health understanding, gentle management and not overloading staff.  

Women primarily wanted flexible working and remote working options. This was significantly more important to them than pay and benefits. An HR manager who is open and approachable also rates highly on the list.  

Kennelly says government, healthcare workers and those in larger organisations are asking for a dose of realism in the workplace. They want the fact they have lives outside of work to be acknowledged, and for management to be proactive in enforcing the balance they crave.  

“So, if businesses don’t want to be caught napping and are willing to tackle the Burn Out beast head on they need to take the insights from this research and use it to define solutions that will head it off at the pass,” she says.

“Upskilling managers in wellbeing and investing in improved staffing levels, employee assistance programmes and wellbeing software are all great ways to move forward. And they could also save money in the long run.  

“The bottom line is wellbeing makes economic sense so investing in creating a wellbeing culture is a sensible move for all businesses of all sizes. It’s the principle of OK-nomics – if you look after your people they will look after the business.”  

offering advice to business leaders who want to improve the situation. ‘Burnout – a business issue that can’t be ignored’ offers advice to business leaders who want to improve the situation and is available and free to download  

Skill Consulting Group have a dedicated wellbeing team who can provide tailored advice for your business.  


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