Wellbeing at Work
Prioritising Support for Professional and Unpaid Carers
Alarming statistics revealed by the Mental Health Foundation show that mental health-related absences are now the leading cause of workplace disruptions. Approximately 14.7% encounter mental health problems at work, with women in full-time employment facing a higher risk compared to their male counterparts. A staggering 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
The implications of this issue go beyond individual well-being; better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion annually. Recognising the signs of burnout among our teams and for unpaid carers is crucial to maintaining a healthy work environment as well as providing effective support to people who need care and support.
Burnout at Work: A Closer Look
Burnout, classified as an "occupational phenomenon" by the World Health Organization in 2019, entails depression-like symptoms stemming from workplace pressures. But people caring for a family member can also experience these symptoms of burnout.
Common signs include:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Experiencing mental and emotional exhaustion
- Drained energy
- Deflated spirits
- Negative outlook
Causes of Burnout in Social Care: The Pandemic Impact
In the realm of social care, the pandemic stands out as a major contributor to burnout. The sudden shift to navigating an unknown world, juggling between work and home life, has taken a toll on staff retention and morale. The shortage of staff further exacerbates the situation, leading to colleagues resorting to sick leave for recovery. Unpaid carers, who selflessly dedicate themselves to their loved ones, are also at risk of burnout as they tirelessly balance caregiving with other responsibilities.
Burnout: Lifestyle Factors
Beyond the pandemic, several other factors play a role in burnout, including financial concerns, remote work challenges, job security anxieties, physical health issues, disrupted sleep patterns, and strained relationships. Recognising these elements becomes essential in managing mental health and stress levels for both paid employees and unpaid carers.
Tackling Burnout: Nurturing Our Wellbeing
Addressing burnout begins with self-care, for how can we care for others if we don't care for ourselves?
Here are some practical steps to consider:
- Acknowledge your limitations and know that it's okay to say no when necessary
- Foster open conversations about burnout, reducing the stigma around mental health.
- Prioritise a balanced diet and stay hydrated throughout the day
- Ensure sufficient rest and sleep, though challenging, is crucial for rejuvenation
- Engage in regular physical activity to promote overall well-being
- Learn to identify and manage stress, addressing it proactively
- Discover what brings you happiness and incorporate more of it into your life
- Reduce exposure to factors that make you unhappy or stressed
- Use available support from employers, the NHS, and wellbeing apps
- Unpaid carers should also access available resources, support groups, and respite care to safeguard their own mental and physical health
Supporting Our Teams: Employers' Role in Promoting Wellbeing
For employers, supporting teams becomes paramount in combating burnout. Consider these actions:
- Identify all contributing factors to staff burnout and explore available support options, extending these initiatives to include unpaid carers
- Cultivate a positive workplace culture where employee voices are heard
- Demonstrate appreciation for staff, knowing that value can be conveyed without financial costs
- Focus on wellbeing as a core aspect of the workplace
- Celebrate good practices and encourage open discussions about burnout
- Implement comprehensive wellbeing plans, including policies and support mechanisms
- Integrate wellbeing support into supervisions and empower staff to create personal wellbeing plans
- Offer hybrid work options when possible to accommodate individual needs
- Train staff as mental health champions to drive change and support colleagues
A Final Reminder: Prioritising Our Own Wellbeing
Leaders and managers must lead by example, placing importance on protecting their mental and physical health. Neglecting self-care will ultimately impact the entire team, jeopardizing staff retention and the quality of support provided. Similarly, unpaid carers should prioritize self-care to ensure they can continue providing care with resilience and compassion.
Remember, caring for your own well-being enables you to better care for others and excel in the job you love.
Connect with other care professionals and unpaid carers
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