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A Practical Guide To Talking To Your Boss About Burnout (And How To Prevent It)

By April 13, 2022 No Comments
Tired mum WFH with children playing in the background

Feeling exhausted, no matter how many hours of sleep you get? Can’t muster up the motivation to do things you used to love? If you’re feeling detached, hopeless or stressed on a daily basis, you might be navigating a period of burnout. 

And the stats tell us you’re not alone: according to the 2021 Global Workplace Burnout Study (yes, it’s a thing) reported cases of burnout rose by 5% over the past 12 months alone. 

With most of us working at least part of our role at home, the lines between work and life have almost entirely disappeared, too. A recent Australian study found that remote workers are clocking in 319 hours of unpaid overtime each year.

We’re working harder than ever before, which means taking care of our physical and emotional health has never been more important. So, if you’re feeling run down and worn out at work, keep reading to discover how to chat to your boss about burnout and a stack of practical scripts and ideas to help you regain balance with a corporate wellness program.

What are the signs and causes of burnout?

Before we chat solutions, let’s walk you through what burnout looks (and feels) like and some of the common causes behind it. 

In a nutshell, burnout is when we experience a state of total physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. While periods of stress, anxiety and fatigue are normal, but there are a few things that make burnout unique. 

In fact, burnout has been classified as an “occupational phenomena” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which categorise burnout by three key criteria:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism towards one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy 

Along with the personal impacts on our overall health and wellbeing, the WHO estimates burnout leads to $1 trillion being lost in productivity each year as a result. 

As for the causes of burnout, typically it’s a combination of:

  • An unmanageable workload that doesn’t give you time or capacity to rest and recharge.
  • A lack of autonomy or being left out of decision-making that impacts your role.
  • An absence of recognition or rewards for your hard work and effort.
  • A fragmented or disconnected workforce without a strong sense of community.
Man and woman doing lunges on a mountain

How corporate wellness can beat burnout

Taking breaks and regaining a sense of work-life balance is a big part of beating (and preventing) burnout at work. Along with reviewing workloads, capacity and organisational structures, being given the time and space to unwind at work are just as important.

That’s why corporate wellness programs can be so powerful in nipping burnout in the bud. From exercise to mediation and even paid time off to tackle life admin, a great corporate wellness program can give you helpful ways to unwind and prioritise your own health. 

The research tells us that some of the biggest contributors to burnout are a lack of recognition at work and feeling disconnected from our team. So, corporate wellness can actually be an opportunity to celebrate our wins at work, re-engage with remote coworkers and boost company-wide morale. 

Woman in therapy

How to bring up workplace wellness programs with your boss

We get it: bringing up burnout with your manager can feel like a daunting task, especially if you’re in the throes of stress, exhaustion and overwhelm. But communication is key, especially when it comes to managing our health and wellbeing at work. 

So, we’re taking the hard work out of your next 1:1 meeting with these helpful scripts to broach the subject of burnout and how workplace wellness can help. Give these questions and conversation starters a try during your next catch up (or schedule a quick chat): 

  • Start with specific examples of how you’re feeling: try phrases like “I’m feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks and deadlines I’m juggling” or “I’m feeling anxious about not being able to meet my deadlines this month.”
  • Explain what you need: be clear about what would be helpful for you, such as “I’m feeling over capacity and would like to redistribute some of my tasks” or “I would like to learn more about meditation and managing my stress levels at work.”
  • Offer suggestions to regain balance: enquire about any existing employee benefits you can tap into (such as paid time off or personal leave). Plus, it’s worth bringing up some proactive ideas you have for your company’s workplace wellness program, such as “I’ve seen X company running X events for their team, and I’d like to see our team try a similar approach.”
Three friends hanging out

Five cost-effective ways to promote wellness in the workplace

Not sure what makes a great employee wellness program? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up a stack of practical suggestions you can take to your boss or manager that are cost-effective and impactful, perfect for teams big and small. 

  • Inject greenery into your office space: research has shown that a humble desk plant can actually reduce stress and calm our nervous system. So, encourage your boss to bring some living colour into your workspace to help you stay calm, focused and in the zone.
  • Lock in quarterly self-care days: struggling to tackle your life admin? Companies like iSelect and even the CSIRO offer teams paid life admin or ‘recharge days’ to do everything from fixing that leaky tap to finally paying that overdue gas bill (or swing by a mid-morning yoga class).
  • Set up a fun fund for team bonding: there are always going to be times when we have to put our heads down to meet a deadline. But, companies like Cisco are actually giving teams a reason to work hard. After a big win or busy period at work, they top up their company-wide fun fund and lock in a team bonding event or social catch-up. Why not suggest barefoot bowls, a paint and sip session or even a brewery or winery tour?
  • Score monthly wellness credits: ever wished someone else could pay for your next massage, manicure or facial? Forward-thinking teams are giving their staff monthly credits to be put towards wellness activities, giving individuals total control over when they need and when they need it. Did you know your boss can set up monthly gift vouchers for an in-home massage with Blys? A great gift idea, if we do say so ourselves!
  • Run team-building wellness activities: bring your remote team together for a day hiking in the sun, a sound-bath meditation session, a group yoga class or even a mani-pedi treatment ahead of a big company event. Not only do these activities boost your mental and physical well-being, but they give you a chance to reconnect with your coworkers (no Zoom call required).

The best way to promote health and wellness in the workplace is to know the signs of burnout and proactively treat the root cause of stress and overwhelm at work. Whether you’re navigating a period of burnout or want to add better work-life balance into your routine, it’s worth chatting to your boss about how an employee wellness program can help you out.

Want to join the ranks of Telstra, Uber and Canva and score access to massages, beauty treatments and wellness services in the comfort of your own home?

Go on, explore Blys’ corporate wellness services and make it easy for your boss to keep you (and your coworkers)  happy and healthy.

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