The Impact of Burnout on Staff
Can you think back to running a race? Maybe you were competing in your primary school athletics carnival, or perhaps you’re a passionate athlete today. Imagine you’re running a 5-kilometre race, but when you finally reach the finish line – puffed, thirsty and exhausted – the course marshal picks up the posts and moves the ribbon several kilometres away. And this happens, again, again, and again. That doesn’t sound like a very fun race, does it? Eventually, you will have to stop running and have a rest, because your body is not physically capable of running for eternity.
Sometimes our work life feels a bit like this race. Although we are tired and drained, we continue to put one foot in front of the other, working ourselves into further exhaustion. Eventually, we are unable to work effectively and experience burnout.
The Australian Clinical Supervision Association knows that burnout is a very real issue for many employees. Not only does this state negatively affect the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of employees, but it affects organisational outcomes. Together, we can reduce burnout occurrences and work towards better employee conditions and better outcomes.
It's important that we understand how burnout occurs, so we can form healthy habits to prevent this state from arising. Burnout often stems from a work-life imbalance, where your work takes the majority of your energy. This can specifically be the case when you perform chaotic or monotonous tasks, lack control in your role, have unclear job expectations, are exposed to an unhealthy workplace culture, and have limited social support. Staff in “helping professions”, such as healthcare and education, are more prone to experiencing this work-life imbalance.
There are many symptoms that can show you are on the road to burnout. People experiencing burnout often:
• Become more cynical within their working environment
• Feel reduced motivation to work
• Become more irritable
• Have difficulty concentrating and being productive
• Exploit food, alcohol and/or drugs
• Experience changes in sleep schedules
• Experience headaches and bowel and stomach issues
The short-term effects of burnout are less than ideal, but the long-term consequences are also alarming. Prolonged or frequent burnout may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, insomnia, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, and various illnesses. Alcohol or substance abuse, excessive stress, and feelings of anger, sadness and irritability may also result. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that we stop burnout in its tracks, so we can live a fulfilling and satisfying life.
If you are experiencing burnout, or think you’re on the path that leads to this state, we have good news for you: there are many evidence-based ways to help yourself! These include:
1. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly
2. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule
3. Engaging in at least one small enjoyable task every day
4. Implementing breathing exercises
5. Exploring stress management tools and finding one that works for you
6. Creating a realistic time management plan
7. Re-evaluating your working conditions and determining your requirements
8. Finding professional support
Burnout significantly impacts businesses, as it results in reduced productivity, increased workplace accidents and errors, and a greater amount of sick leave. Therefore, this is a challenge that employers should put great effort into rectifying. Employers should look out for signs of burnout in their workplace and put structures in place to better support their staff and their business. Such can include:
1. Designating achievable workloads
2. Promoting employee autonomy
3. Fostering workplace community and fairness
4. Providing the required breaks
5. Ensuring all hired staff in leadership roles are passionate about reducing employee stress 
At ACSA, we know that burnout is a very real issue faced by employees and employers. Amongst the many benefits of clinical supervision listed in the Joint Position Statement; reduced stress, anxiety, and burnout is well documented Clinical Supervision can provide an ethical, safe place to reflect that supports supervisees to identify and access support, and help to improve overall well-being. Find a supervisor today to stop burnout in its tracks and improve business outcomes and staff experience!
1. Employsure. Employee Burnout. https://employsure.com.au/guides/workplace-health-and-safety/employee-burnout/