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Worker stress and how to tackle it

Some 30 per cent of HR directors in the UK feel that it's common for staff working in their organisation to become burnt-out, recent stats have shown.

Robert Half UK's survey suggested that 67 per cent of HR directors felt that workload was the biggest reason behind burnout. Some 56 per cent said that doing overtime and working long hours were also reasons.

Some 200 HR directors took part in the survey, and Robert Half UK has provided some warning signs that might show a member of staff could be facing burnout, such as not being very productive, being late for work a lot and having emotional outbursts.

HR directors were also questioned about whether initiatives to stop burnout from occurring had been put into place.

Some 31 per cent said they were telling employees they ought to take time off and 34 per cent giving staff flexible working choices.

"Employee burnout can affect almost any professional, from top boss to rank and file employee. Many employees who have been tackling increased workloads while putting in long hours are beginning to lose their motivation at work," commented Robert Half UK managing director, Phil Sheridan.

Feeling stress

Of course if you're close to burnout in your working life, it's likely you will be facing a large amount of stress. And the issue of stress doesn’t just rear its head when people are 'burning out' but can be faced, to a greater or lesser degree, by other workers, too.

Feeling stress can be a very upsetting experience, so it's important to take action if it is a part of your life.

Of course a single, isolated, stressful day can sometimes simply come and go by chance, not really requiring any action in particular. 

You may have your own way of treating yourself to something nice at the end of such a day to cheer things up, perhaps having a long bath with your favourite herbal shampoo, for example.

If work stress is affecting you more often than occasionally, though, you ought to try and do something to improve things.

'Stress doctor' Terri Bodell has talked about the problems that can arise from people not giving themselves proper breaks at work, for example.

"Almost everyone that I have asked admits that, when they work through without taking breaks, they become less productive, less energetic and more inefficient as the day progresses, which can lead to mistakes and stress," she warned in a 2011 interview.

"Humans are not designed to work at full speed constantly for eight hours a day, every day without rest," she said.

"The consequence of this is stress, burnout and eventually sickness and staff absence – all of which are costly to companies."

The break routine she recommended to workers was to have a 20 minute rest each morning and another of the same length in the afternoon.

At lunchtime she recommended people give themselves half an hour or more where they're not sat behind their desk.

"Make 'brain breaks' and switch off time the rule rather than the exception," she said.

Is 'work-overload' playing a part?

There are many causes of workplace stress, according to chartered psychologist Dr Rick Norris, interviewed last year.

"Most typically people think about [work] overload being the problem, so in other words people have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. So that's probably one of the most common causes," he said.

Stress before work

One cause of stress that is related to work is the stressful feeling some people can feel when they are trying to get to where they need to be to start work.

If you feel stressed when commuting, there is action that can help with this as Stress Management Society director Andrea Sangster explained last year.

Organisation was important, she said: "Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to get to – there is always a problem that happens somewhere along the route."

 
 
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