Is the Tech Sector facing a burnout epidemic?
What is burnout?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as “chronic workplace stress that has not been well managed”. WHO has identified three common symptoms: feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.
Burnout is particularly widespread in the Tech sector. Recent analysis by Blind, an app which allows employees to anonymously discuss issues in the workplace, suggests that 57% of tech workers are currently experiencing burnout. 5 in 6 tech companies surveyed had a burnout rate of 50% or higher.
What is the impact of burnout?
Burnout poses significant challenges to both developing and established companies. Employees who are experiencing burnout will take more sick days, struggle to maintain their usual levels of productivity, and likely begin searching for alternative employment. This behaviour increases organisational costs for employers and could delay or prevent start-ups from beginning to generate revenue, and, for more established businesses, lead to a significant reduction in profit. In March 2023, it was reported that burnout and work-related stress costs the UK economy £28 billion per year.
Why is burnout increasing in the Tech Sector?
As discussed in the last edition of our STEM newsletter, the Tech sector is currently facing a wave of redundancies. A recent report by Beamery has found that more than half of tech workers are concerned that they will be made redundant by their current employer. This lack of job security will undoubtedly lead to work-related stress increasing the risk of burnout.
Another factor, which could be contributing to increasing rates of burnout in the Tech sector, is that working from home is common practice. This may mean that employees are less able to seek support from their colleagues and that management has reduced awareness of the full extent of an employee’s workload and the associated pressure they may be under. Another consideration is that employees who work from home often report an expectation to always be available and that they find it difficult to relax at the end of a working day.
As working from home has become the “new normal”, employers in the Tech sector should consider whether additional support would be appropriate to ensure that this is not having unintended detrimental impacts on employees.
Can burnout be prevented?
Several strategies can be utilised by employers to minimise the risk of Burnout.
- Be aware of the common symptoms of burnout.
- Monitor the workload and working hours of their team members.
- Communicate openly about the pressures the team may be facing at work.
- Recognise and reward professionally achievements and development.
- Identify additional support, for example a 24/7 counselling service, that can be provided to support employees who may be struggling, and ensure employees are aware of this.
If you would like more advice on managing stress and mental wellbeing in your workplace, please contact a member of our multi-disciplinary STEM team at STEM@bto.co.uk.
This update contains general information only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice.