A poor workplace culture rather than the type or amount of work undertaken is the main cause of employee burnout. This is according to the O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2020 Global Culture Report which surveyed 20,000 employees and leaders across the world including almost 2,000 from the UK.

A toxic workplace culture increases moderate to severe burnout by 157 per cent and even the smallest lapses in workplace culture can lead to mild burnout.

“Burnout is a real and present threat to businesses worldwide, and is chronically affecting the UK workforce with nearly half of UK workers showing signs of moderate to severe burnout”, says Robert Ordever, Managing Director of workplace culture expert, O.C. Tanner Europe.

“With burnout proving detrimental to employee health, engagement and performance as well as staff turnover, organisations must put their culture under the microscope if they want to influence change.”

The World Health Organisation has officially classified burnout as a syndrome related to ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’. The symptoms include mental and physical exhaustion, a feeling of futility and the employee intentionally distancing themselves from their work such as through absenteeism.

79 per cent of workers are experiencing some level of burnout with 48 per cent of UK workers showing signs of moderate to severe burnout – only second to Japan (50 per cent). Employees who say they very often or always experience burnout at work are 63 per cent more likely to take a sick day and are 13 per cent less confident in their performance.

According to the Report, companies which score poorly in some or all the six areas of organisational culture are more likely to have burned-out employees. These six areas include organisational purpose, success, opportunities, leadership, appreciation and wellbeing. In fact, companies with a non-existent or uninspiring purpose can increase odds of burnout by 39 per cent, and a lack of learning opportunities can stifle engagement and increase odds of burnout by 16 per cent. In addition, decreased trust in leaders can increase burnout by 29 per cent, a reduction in the receiving of staff recognition leads to increased odds of burnout by 48 per cent, and a decreased work/life balance can increase the risk of burnout by 22 per cent.

“Toxic cultures are making people sick”, says Ordever.

“When companies treat their people as merely workers, rather than individuals, often expecting them to more with less and with little recognition or reward, burnout becomes inevitable.”

Ordever continues,

“It’s vital that company leaders recognise how their organisational culture could be precipitating burnout and then take steps to create a less stressful working environment. This must include connecting employees to their organisations, championing a culture of appreciation and ensuring employees are clear about their goals and performance.

Even simple changes can make a huge difference, helping to turn the tide before the situation becomes critical.”

For more information visit www.octanner.com/uk