Work-life balance and burnout prevention
‘Suddenly’, topics like wellness, workplace wellness, burnout prevention and work-life balance seem to be hot. Why the inverted commas?
These issues are, of course, not sudden at all. For quite some time, therapists, counselors and GPs have been seeing an increase in mental health problems resulting in burnout. That’s no surprise in a world with ever-increasing pressures on our work-life balance.
Fitness is a crucial part of wellness, but a person who is fit doesn’t necessarily feel well. Wellness is a much more complex subject that poses such life questions as: what motivates me, what makes me tick, how do I relate to the people around me, am I happy with my social life, how do I cope with stress, how do I maintain work-life balance.
Countless books have been written on these subjects. Yet in the end books are geared towards a mass audience. What counts is how we go about integrating book wisdom in our daily lives and how well we succeed in doing so.
The EU has now acknowledged that the rapidly increasing number of people experiencing burnout is not so much a question of fitness as a question of wellness.
In June 2014, the European Commission (OSHA) published a report calculating the cost of work-related stress. It concluded that “stress is the second most frequently reported work-related health problem in Europe.” Work-related health problems refer generally to mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders and diabetes, to name but a few on the list. Estimated at €617 billion for 2013 alone, this cost is comprised of factors such as absenteeism, health care costs, social welfare costs and loss of productivity. That’s kind of a big deal.
Belgian Wellness Law (Welzijnswet)
Belgium has now become the first country to create a law specifically addressing the prevention of burnout. This law states that companies on Belgian soil must offer workers protection against psycho-social risks* (the fancy term used for risk factors affecting Burnout). By 1 March 2015 organizations must have made a so-called psychosocial risk assessment in their organization to help their employees in ‘being well’ and to help minimize their risk of becoming ill. Other countries are sure to follow suit quickly in my opinion (for more information check www.life5.eu/wellness-law2015).
So what’s the missing piece of the puzzle?
Often ‘reduction of absenteeism’ seems the common way to measure how ‘well’ an organization is doing. Yet that’s a one-dimensional way of looking through the lens. What’s needed is for organizations to embrace mental and physical wellness of their employees in a broader, more long-term way.
This should include top-down strategies aimed at things such as healthy aging, harassment prevention, burnout recovery, integrative nutrition and stress resilience. We should stop separating ‘Work’ and ‘Life’ artificially when seeking a balance and start focusing on the whole person.
The company Life5 will give workshops in WorldClass about work-life balance, stress management, burnout prevention, and healthy ageing. Check at reception for the schedule or on www.worldclassfitness.be. These will be half-day seminars during weekends.
About Paul Schuchhard
Over the years I have worked with numerous organisations and individuals to support, educate and motivate them to redefine their purpose and goals. As a qualified counselor and coach I work with different psychological tools (CBT, NLP, Systems, TA). As a certified sports-nutritionist and trainer I help people deal with the physical symptoms brought on by stress and an inactive lifestyle.