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How to switch off from work and avoid burnout

To help keep work burnout to a minimum, managers should not send any kind of email outside of working hours.

Pointing to a computer screen. Image by Tim Sandle.
Pointing to a computer screen. Image by Tim Sandle.

How to manage to switch off from work and why burnout can affect our health? This is a question many employees are grappling with as more is demanded of them, whether this is at the workplace or when working remotely.

According to  Professor Sir Cary Cooper, Advisory Board Member at Delamere, too many individuals are struggling with a commitment to work. This is based on a survey that his company has conducted. Cooper considers how people can best deal with the symptoms of work burnout and how to avoid feeling overworked.

Burnout is when an individual physically cannot do their job anymore, this could be due to heavy work pressures, long hours or workloads.

Professor Cooper, tells Digital Journal: “If the last 20 months have taught us anything, it’s that we should be taking time to properly relax with our loved ones.”

This is because, the researcher adds: “People are now working harder and longer hours than ever before and should use their personal time as a way to disconnect from corporate life.”

There are different steps that can be taken. One tip that Cooper has is: “This means if you have emails or messages coming to your phone, switch them off so that you aren’t distracted or thinking about work when you should be relaxing.”

This is because “Having the temptation to look at work emails while off can mean you end up going back to work feeling drained because you didn’t fully disconnect.”

There are things that employers can do if they are concerned about a burnt-out staff member. For the ‘good’ employer, Cooper recommends:  “If you are concerned that a member of staff is falling victim to burnout, there are a few tell-tale symptoms that you can look out for including acting withdrawn, looking physically exhausted, as well as over-using substances like alcohol or drugs or using work as a form of escape.”

Ideally managers will be suitably trained in address the signs and symptoms of burnout and stress.

Cooper advises that managers should encourage personnel to switch off outside of working hours, stating: “To help keep work burnout to a minimum, managers should not send any kind of email outside of working hours. For those that might struggle with addiction to their job, receiving an email like this could cause the person to start working again when they should be resting.”

Citing good practice, Cooper turns to: “Countries including France and Portugal have recently brought in legislation that bans managers and employers from doing so, while some companies will choose to shut down the server altogether.”

Also, within Portugal, the socialist government has mandated that employers are also forbidden from monitoring their employees while they work at home. This takes away some of the stresses the workers may face.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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