More than 1 in 10 workers in New Zealand could be suffering from burnout, according to research from Auckland’s University of Technology. According to Jarrod Haar of the university’s Business School, the writing’s on the wall when you witness workers who have problems staying focused, have emotional exhaustion, an indifference to work and an inability to control their emotions. What’s most worrying is that Managers are 219% more likely to be burned out — exactly the same group of people who you’re expecting to lead people from the front and keep whole teams of people motivated.
So why is burnout getting worse for managers in particular? Was it a phenomenon simply caused by COVID-19? — and is there a way to you can stop this toxic trend from reducing the effectiveness of your workforce?
When we look at the last two years (2020 and 2021), it’s easy to blame rising stress levels and other burnout related symptoms on COVID-19. Without a doubt that turned peoples’ lives upside down and had businesses of all sizes fighting for their lives. In some sectors — it was a perfect storm. A rapid switch to remote working, the challenges of dealing with a much higher level of absence and in many industries, a great exodus of people in what became known as the great resignation. The remaining workers were left to pick up the slack and managers had their work cut out to keep the show on the road and maintain productivity with a much lower headcount.
However, there’s evidence out there that suggests that there’s more to this than meets the eye. In 2019 (in a pre-COVID world), BusinessNZ and Southern Cross released their Workplace Wellness report. In the two years from August 2017 to August 2019, their research found that stress had risen by a significant 23.5%. Nobody seems to be able to put their finger on why exactly this is the case — but the trend towards so-called "Hustle Culture" could be one of the causes of this malaise. Particularly in white-collar jobs, professional services and the technology sector, workplace culture has glorified ‘busyness’. People feel the pressure to impress bosses by working long hours — being the first one in and the last one out.