World Mental Health Day: Common approach to burnout still lacking

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Today is World Mental Health Day, a yearly event held by the World Health Organization with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.

Eurofound has made a limited number of copies of its latest report on Burnout in the workplace available to order, free of charge, via its website. The report maps research on burnout across the EU, and shows that psychosocial risks rank top as work determinants most likely to cause the condition. Employees with a sustained exposure to such risks as high work intensity, long working hours, emotional demands, low level of autonomy and tense social relationships at work were found to be at a higher risk of burnout, or indeed more likely to already be developing it.

Of those risks, differences in individual impact can also be seen across the Member States. For example, studies in Belgium have found that conflicts in the workplace count among one of the top four work-related factors. It is perhaps therefore not surprising to learn that social support from colleagues has been noted as a mitigating factor in several studies carried out in this area. Additional recurrent themes include heavy workload and long working hours, relationship with management and rewards.

One element that remains hotly-debated is the issue of autonomy. In many studies, the prevalence of burnout has been shown to be substantially higher when autonomy of the worker is lower. However, other studies report the opposite to be true, such as the association with telework, which suggests that autonomy could be a double-edged sword in the context of burnout, especially when considering work-life balance and the concept of ‘boundaryless work’.

We invite you to access the information below to build understanding of the need for a common approach that will assist employees and employers alike in tackling this important issue.

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