Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
September 1, 2020

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources


‘Watch out for burnout!’, ex-Olympian Rebecca Adlington draws parallels between business and elite sport

Former swimmer and double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington OBE compares burnout in the workplace to the experience of elite athletes.

Becky Adlington

Legal & General’s Not A Red Card (NARC) Ambassador and two-time Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington OBE is to focus on burnout at this year’s REBA Employee Wellbeing Congress. Her appearance comes in response to reports that mass homeworking is leading to a new culture of ‘e-presenteeism’, whereby employees feel obliged to be online as much as possible, even outside of work hours and when they are feeling unwell.

Rebecca Adlington said: “There are clear parallels here with the world of sport. Many Olympians and elite athletes experience burnout. They try to ramp up efforts when they are just not seeing results, training harder and longer. They compete more. They seek out more coaching. All of which can end up being counterproductive and affect their mental health. The only way out of it is to let go of any excessively high expectations and demands for achieving certain standards.”

Burnout was added last year by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the international classification of diseases as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ which results from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been managed effectively.

A survey by LinkedIn and the Mental Health Foundation, carried out mid-lockdown, found that three quarters (75%) of HR leaders believe the risk of employee burnout is increased potentially as a result of a new culture of ‘e-presenteeism’.

Burnout in the workplace

Vanessa Sallows, Claims and Governance Director at Legal & General Insurance, commented: “While burnout isn’t a medical condition as such, there’s the risk that it could lead to illness, such as depression. Consequently, employers need to be alert and help prevent this happening through a combination of surveys and mood trackers, cultural practices – and better communication of existing benefits to ensure improved engagement and usage of mental health support services included as part of group income protection, for instance.”

Rebecca Adlington OBE will also be speaking at the 2020 NARC Forum & Awards, which will take place – virtually this year – on Wednesday 4 November. This event will look at workplace mental health insights and provide practical takeaways on how business and their employees can be well, get better and be supported.

Not A Red Card is an advocacy and action campaign. Launched in 2017, it uses the power and relatability of sport and humour to reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace and get people talking about it and their own experiences. Action points highlighted by the campaign focus on the six core standards that lay basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health as identified by Thriving at Work, the Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers.

Burnout podcast

Heather recently sat down with Stacy Thomson, Award Winning Mental Health Nurse & Cognitive Behavioural Coach, to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

Stacy has worked alongside organisations, executives and leaders in roles within a wide range of fields.

What is it about burnout that makes us susceptible?

The Safety Conversation Podcast: Listen now!

The Safety Conversation with SHP (previously the Safety and Health Podcast) aims to bring you the latest news, insights and legislation updates in the form of interviews, discussions and panel debates from leading figures within the profession.

Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, subscribe and join the conversation today!

Related Topics

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Harold A Maio
Harold A Maio
3 years ago

—-to reduce the stigma of mental health

By One Voice? Let the voice that stops be yours.