Despite flex schedules, workers still suffering from burnout

Sixty per cent of Canadian professionals putting in 40 or more hours a week

Despite flex schedules, workers still suffering from burnout

Despite flexible schedules, many Canadians are still suffering from burnout.

In a survey of more than 500 professionals, 38 per cent said they are more burned out now than a year ago.

Broken down by demographics, millennials are most affected (42 per cent), followed by gen X (39 per cent) and baby boomers (34 per cent).

Women (42 per cent) are suffering more than men (34 per cent), along with employees who have been with their company for two to four years (42 per cent) compared to five to nine years (38 per cent) and 10+ years (37 per cent).

At the same time, 45 per cent of workers are uneasy about expressing feelings of burnout with their manager, finds a survey by Robert Half.

"Many Canadian employees are still battling burnout, despite companies' efforts to hire permanent and contract talent to support growing business demands," says David King, Canadian senior managing director of Robert Half.

"The labour market remains incredibly tight and now, more than ever, managers need to focus on the health and wellness of their teams and take steps to reduce work-related stress. This includes scheduling ongoing check-ins, prioritizing critical work and maintaining a culture that encourages employees to share if they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed."

Back in January, a Canada Life survey found one-third of Canadians were experiencing burnout.

Workloads a problem

Sixty-nine per cent of professionals said they can set their own schedule, but among those respondents, 74 per cent are working more hours than they were before the pandemic.

Sixty per cent of employees overall are putting in 40 or more hours a week, finds the survey.

"For some employees, schedule flexibility has created a sense that they need to be available at all times, making it more challenging to fully disconnect from work," says King. "It's important for managers to lead by example and demonstrate a true commitment to work-life balance, including proactively encouraging staff to prioritize personal commitments and take breaks and time off."

We’ve been hearing an awful lot about the “flexible workplace” lately, but what exactly does that mean?

Tips to combat burnout

Robert Half offered several tips to help combat employee burnout:

Encourage boundary-setting: Workers should be encouraged to re-establish boundaries between their work and personal lives, to the extent possible, as they settle into remote or hybrid work arrangements for the long term. Also, let them know it’s OK if they need to fine-tune their schedule to find the right balance. Emphasize that you want to hear from them if something isn’t working, so you can collaborate on a solution.

Re-assess roles: If employees aren’t enjoying their work, it can make them feel frustrated and discouraged and set them on a faster path to burnout. So, make sure your employees are in positions that suit their strengths and interests — and provide them with clearly defined roles and expectations. Also, communicate with team members regularly and keep everyone in the loop when priorities change.

Be realistic: Take a step back and ask the following questions: Am I assigning manageable workloads to my employees? Do my employees have all the resources and information they need to handle their duties and assignments? If the answer to both questions is “no,” you’ll want to rethink your current approach and adjust priorities so that team members can realistically and consistently complete good work on time without burning the candle at both ends.

Recognize contributions: Feeling appreciated can make challenging workloads easier for employees to shoulder. Offering appreciation can be as simple as a shout-out during a staff meeting or as significant as nominating your team for internal and external awards.

Emphasize wellness: Encourage team members to take advantage of any perks and benefits your business provides that are designed to help support employee health and well-being. Build awareness around those programs, and make sure that all staff members, whether they’re working remotely or on-site, have access to the same or similar offerings.

Questions about the efficacy of workplace wellness programs continue to pester employers:

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