2 Dec 2021

One in three employees high risk for burnout during pandemic

2:38 pm on 2 December 2021

Workplace burnout is soaring as workers find it harder to balance their work life with pressures from the Covid-19 pandemic.

AUT Business School professor of human resources management Jarrod Haar.

AUT Business School professor of human resources management Jarrod Haar. Photo: Supplied / AUT

New research from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT), shows that one in three employees are at high burnout risk, up from one in nine at the beginning of the pandemic, when the survey began.

Workers who were tethered to their office via smart devices had the highest risk of burnout, followed by Māori employees and workers with high demands.

AUT Business School professor of human resources management Jarrod Haar, said working from home has pushed people into staying connected to their office outside work hours.

"It is the one thing that has kind of grown over the four surveys and I do think that just kind of reflects lockdowns, working from home a bit more. The workforce in general is probably falling into a few of these bad habits.

"Now it's becoming a regular thing where actually it's 'just a couple of times a night' and you imagine the partner going next to you like 'we're trying to watch TV with the kids and you've got this important work email'.

"Is the building on fire? Because if not I don't know how important it really is on a Friday night."

The burnout risk for Māori fell to two different categories, Haar said.

"On one hand we have the kind of low skilled workers who have high job insecurity and they're much more likely to be Māori and much more likely to be burnt out.

"On the other side we have the professional Māori who are more likely to be burnt out and more likely to be engaged in this kind of electronic tethering where they keep working after hours through technology."

Haar encouraged organisations to be supportive of their employees taking a good summer break.

"Workers are genuinely tired. Organisations may want to go the extra distance and see if they can do a bit more to acknowledge their employees' dedication and fatigue. Here at AUT, for example, we are closing three days earlier than planned to give workers a head-start on their rest and recovery."

He said it would go a long way to ensuring people feel ready and able to return next year.

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