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June 10, 2012

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Businesses blind to burnout

Businesses are contributing to employee burnout in the workplace by imposing constant change on their staff in an effort to stay viable during the downturn, new research suggests.

Human-resources experts Gary Rees and Sally Rumbles, of the University of Portsmouth Business School, questioned 20 senior HR practitioners at companies employing more than 100 people. They concluded that while many organisations have serious concerns about the impact change is having on their business, very few are worried about employees, or their welfare.

Yet, burnout in the workplace, including emotional exhaustion, cynicism and low personal accomplishment, is increasingly common.

Commenting on their findings, Rees said: “Employers and senior managers need to stop foisting continual change on their staff in a bid to stay viable as a business. The secret is not to ignore the fact change can threaten the staff who, in turn, can become exhausted, cynical, or depressed, which destabilises the organisation.

“Companies that overload their employees with continual change tend to see staff react by withdrawing and becoming less engaged, resulting in poorer performance, productivity and retention.”

The researchers say the concept of successfully managing change is not new, but the recent pace and scope of that change is exceptional.

“Continual change can feel like bereavement and employees need time to recover and adjust after change, not be thrust again and again into new periods of uncertainty and new initiatives and restructuring,” added Rumbles. “Businesses need to plan change, execute it, and then tell staff the turmoil is over.”

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