Maintaining a healthy relationship with a high-stress job
In 2019, the issue of workplace stress has taken centre stage.
Millennials' concerns and needs in the workplace are being heard, and as this generation has been a part of a plethora of social, technological and economic innovations, they're experiencing both the positive and negative impacts in their work and personal lives.
The ease with which we can now communicate also means that "switching off" from work is next to impossible. This coupled with unreasonable workloads and the growing expectation of "high performance" now form a trinity of reasons why workplace stress is on the rise. And while these innovations can add to tensions, they also serve as channels to share feelings and frustrations.
As a result of the ever-growing concern surrounding high levels of workplace stress and its effects on those who suffer, in April of this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised ‘burnout’ as an “occupational phenomenon”.
Whilst this recognition is important, it seems that many of us remain unsure of what burnout actually is.
To find out how many Brits are researching this phenomenon, Perkbox partnered with SEMrush, the online marketing suite, to examine online trends in relation to ‘burnout’ and find out how many people were searching for the term, looking at data from January 2015 to May 2019 in the UK.
“What is Burnout” has been searched over 50% more since being recognised as an occupational phenomenon
Digging deeper into these searches, the results show that people are looking for information surrounding burnout in general but also researching more specific points around the issue, including ‘millennial burnout’ and ‘burnout test’ to name a few.
Online searches for 'what is burnout' between June 2015 and May 2019
Although most of us experience some level of stress at work, the difference between stress and burnout can be a little unclear. However, it's recent elevation has brought about a spike in Brits looking for specific information about the ailment online.
Searches for “what is burnout?” increased by 55% on average from 2018 to 2019. Average monthly searches have increased drastically from 602 in 2018 to 932 in just the last 7 months.
Online searches for 'millennial burnout' between June 2015 and May 2019
Not only are Brits looking for a definition, but they’re also searching for more refined search terms. It is believed that the viral article by Buzzfeed “How Millennials became the Burnout Generation” is what enraptured recognition and thoughtful reflection on “millennial burnout”.
“Millennial burnout” was most searched in 2019, but reached a peak in March (4,400 monthly average searches), as opposed to January when the Buzzfeed article was published (2,400 monthly average searches).
Online searches for 'burnout test' between June 2015 and May 2019
But it seems Brits are not just settling with a definition, many are going one step further and looking to discover if they are experiencing the phenomenon themselves. Searches for “burnout test” - which most commonly link back to the Maslach Burnout inventory have remained pretty steady (and high) over the last three years and currently stand at 44 searches on average monthly.
So, what really is ‘burnout’?
It turns out that the searches may be justified, as although burnout has been recognised as an “occupational phenomenon”, it's not classified as a medical condition, which may be leading the public to find out a little more about what an occupational phenomenon actually is, and what it means for those looking for wellbeing support in the workplace.
Burnout has been defined by the WHO as:
“a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
What’s more, the WHO has recognised burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” but online searches signal it’s not only linked to employment. Whilst “therapist burnout” was widely searched this year (48 average monthly), “university burnout” was searched more (52 average monthly) and “relationship burnout” (38 average monthly) or “compassionate burnout” (28 average monthly) on a similar scale.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with a high-stress job
If you are feeling the strain from your job, you’re not alone. A 2018 Perkbox survey found that work is the most common stress for UK adults, with 59% experiencing workplace stress and 1 in 5 (21%) experiencing moderate to high levels of work-related stress several times per week.
Thankfully, the increase in searches for ‘burnout’ shows that many Brits are recognising that they’re experiencing stress and are looking for the causes and solutions - which is a great place to start.
To help we’ve put together some tips on how you can maintain a healthy relationship with a high-stress job:
Focus on time management - Remember that you can only do so much in 24 hours and too much can become overwhelming. Prevent burnout by managing your time with a list of items to be addressed daily and schedule in times to focus on them all. Prioritise your tasks and concentrate on the tasks that will make a difference first, while remembering to be realistic.
Talk to your supervisor and colleagues - Keeping stress to yourself can allow tensions to build up. Start a conversation with the people around you at work surrounding any concerns or worries - it’s in everyone's best interest that all members of the team are healthy and productive so by opening the conversation, they can help. Supporting team wellbeing is an important part of sustaining any high-performance team. Supervisors may even wish to implement a long-term employee assistance programme.
Avoid unhealthy habits - Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as ways of coping. These crutches won’t solve your problems, but they could definitely create new ones.
Keep active - Exercise won’t make your stress disappear but it can give you some time to take a breather and clear your thoughts. Try to make a short amount of time in your day to get away from your work, refresh your mind and allow for a period of calm.
Take time to rest - Holiday days are there for a reason - we all need a break sometimes! Take time away from work to destress and focus on fun and relaxation.