The Impact of Burnout on Mental Health in the Workplace

Strategies for HR to handle this fast rising priority

As the world enters its third year of continued volatility resulting from COVID 19, coupled with the ongoing uncertainty of the economy, climate change and the worldwide disruptions to peace. 

It’s understandable that workplace mental health has quickly risen in priority for business leaders and human resources professionals. 

Burnout is continuing its rise. With employers identifying stress, anxiety and indeed burning out as the major forces threatening the continuity of workplace cultures and equanimity in 2022. 

86 percent of employers said mental health, stress and burnout were still a priority

But in the face of so much continued uncertainty, a known breeder of anxiety. What can employers and their HR teams do to combat the challenges being faced in this time of workplace mental health crisis? 

In this article, we address what burnout can look like. Along with proposing some actionable steps that you can take to support your organisation’s people at this challenging time and the future that lays ahead.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a combination of factors that can include physical and emotional exhaustion. The symptoms can then be experienced as individuals encounter extended periods of stress and challenging situations which invariably add to the stressful experience. 

Mental Health UK, summarise the common signs of burnout as including 

  • Tiredness or feeling drained the majority of the time 
  • Emotional responses that can include a sense of helplessness or feeling trapped 
  • Loneliness and feelings of isolation and helplessness 
  • Possessing an outlook on things that is negative 
  • Doubting oneself 
  • Being affected by procrastination 
  • A sense of overwhelm 

Despite the worrying levels of burnout being felt in the workplace. It’s regrettable that employees experiencing burnout can be misunderstood and even stigmatised. With the resulting outcomes including impacts to workplace productivity, but also crucially employee engagement, morale and overall well being.

The Burnout Factors

With so much change, comes a variety of factors that business leaders, managers and HR practitioners should consider when seeking to identify and support those who may be experiencing burnout. 

Working from home 

Working from home has a number of benefits and high numbers of employees are continuing to opt for and prefer the flexibility of hybrid working arrangements. It’s vital however that HR have an awareness that despite the benefits brought by home working, there are some downsides that can contribute to the causes of burnout. 

For example, the boundaries of work and home being blurred can add an additional layer of stress to those employers working from home. Particularly for those who may not have a dedicated work space in their home or juggling additional responsibilities like childcare. 

Ways to support home workers

Remaining connected in hybrid working environments is key to identifying and supporting those who may be on the verge of experiencing burnout. 

It’s vital that home workers are supported and encouraged to stay connected to their co-workers who may be in the office, or also working remotely. 

HR’s role is to support managers in their collaboration with remote and distributed workers and where necessary devising support frameworks for managers to work within in the event of employee’s expressing issues with burnout. 

Money Concerns as the Cost of Living Crisis hits

The cost of living crisis is a real concern for most people. From significant rises in energy bills to a rapid increase of fuel prices. Household items from groceries, to essential items like clothing and toiletries. Further to increases in Council Tax and broadband subscription fees, households across the UK and beyond are being faced with increases in expenditure, that is outpacing the rate of rises to pay.

Cost of living continues to outpace wage growth | Source:
Cost of living continues to outpace wage growth | Source:

The connection between money concerns and mental health are well documented and well understood. 

For HR, the impact of the cost of living crisis can result in increased absenteeism as employee’s experience anxiety. It can also lead to uplifts in requests for pay rises and in many cases employees exploring the job market for new opportunities that may meet the increasing financial pressures being faced. 

Ways that HR can support employees with money concerns

Engagement with the workforce is vital during challenging times. Listening to the issues that matter to your people, along with encouraging a culture of empathy are essential. 

Employee engagement has always been important, but perhaps never more so than now. 

Gallup defines employee engagement as the involvement, investment and enthusiasm of employees in both their work and the workplace.

The benefits of understanding the engagement levels of employees are far reaching. From having an insight into happiness and enthusiasm. Through being able to head off issues before they become a more widespread issue. Having a clear understanding of the workforce, closes the gap between employees and business leaders. 

Understanding whether money concerns are impacting mental health and workplace morale. In addition to evaluating engagement levels more widely, will provide a more insightful understanding of your people, the risks and opportunities. 

Sage HR’s engagement survey features can support you effectively with connecting to your people to take the temperature on how people feel. And the ways they are responding to the challenges of the current situation.

Sage HR's Engagement Surveys Dashboard. With Engagement Surveys, you can start assessing the level of engagement of your employees, identify your Employee Net Promoter Score, and most importantly identify possible improvements in order for your organisation to thrive.
Sage HR’s Engagement Surveys Dashboard. With Engagement Surveys, you can start assessing the level of engagement of your employees, identify your Employee Net Promoter Score, and most importantly identify possible improvements in order for your organisation to thrive.

Mental Health Support

Prior to the pandemic, organisations were increasing their focus on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Ushering in the creation of new roles to the HR suite, that included mental well-being officer and well-being manager. 

The focus of these roles is to support employees in the workplace with both preventative and responsive methods to mental health, emotional health and well-being. 

Yet for those organisations not large enough to have roles focused solely on mental health alone. Workforce mental health can continue to be prioritised in 2022. 

By having a strategy in place to respond to and prevent mental health crises, you will be taking an active step in placing people front and centre in your organisational efforts to prevent burnout from occurring. 

Despite this being one of the most uncertain times in recent history, the role of Human Resources and that of people managers continues with the same committed interest in their organisation and workforce. 

Sage HR software makes the process of managing human resources efficient and effective. Enabling you as a HR professional or business leader to focus on the strategies that matter and make a difference to your people and your organisation. 

➡ Sign up for your free 30 day trial today. 



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Written By

Jade Taryn Graham

Jade is the founder & CEO of Inspired a people & talent consultancy working with the most innovative early stage companies worldwide. Founder & CCO of Inspired Talent Media Ltd and contributing writer for Sage HR where Jade writes about people, leadership, work/life balance and change.