Executive burnout is a condition that costs business billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and stress leave. In order to avoid this, corporate leaders should be given “mental checks” to ensure that they haven’t succumbed to mental fatigue.
Burnout is one of the only mental disorders Work Safe Australia believes to be directly influenced by excessive work. Reports indicate that burnout leads to a “stress bill” of $20 billion to businesses annually.
Over worked executives are at the highest risk and their slow descent into complete burnout can negatively effect companies while also spilling out into personal lives.
Robyn McNeill is a prime example of someone who has been negatively impacted by burnout. McNeill came close to losing her family and her life when she was tried to constantly balance her high pressure project management job with her personal life.
“The first episode of burnout I had was when I walked out on my two kids and their father because I couldn’t cope,” says Ms McNeill.
“It was fight or flight syndrome, and I chose flight. I didn’t realise I had burnout, I thought my marriage was the problem, I was blaming everyone else.”
“I was mentally exhausted and unable to cope with situations I could normally deal with. One day I told my husband to take all the sleeping tablets and throw them away because if he didn’t, I would take them all.”
Ms McNeill believes her situation could have been helped, had she sought assistance early on.
“It is a journey to burnout,” she says “It starts with stress but if you take no action, the symptoms get worse. You start to lose clarity of thinking, the ability to make good decisions or to be creative, your physical and mental health are in decline. You need to identify what is going on and take action early.”
Clinical psychologist Dr Simon Kinsella suggests that businesses should arrange an annual mental health check for top executives to help tackle issues that some may not acknowledge as problems.
“I am definitely seeing more cases of executive burnout. Executives and CEOs have a higher level of pressure to deal with such as mergers or insolvencies. But they have very driven personalities, they feel weak if they are not coping, and they fear if they show signs of weakness, the culture at executive level will see them as vulnerable,” Dr Kinsella says.
Signs of BURNOUT
Recognising and acknowledging burnout early is a key step in avoiding it’s disastrous effects one’s life. Some symptoms are as follows:
- Inability to sleep- Insomnia and irregular sleep patterns is a frequent sign of someone under too much stress
- Unusual Moods- Males often display overt aggression when burnout, while women are more likely to cry for what seems like insignificant issues.
- Unusual Eating habits.
- The feeling that you are unable to cope
- Feeling Depressed
- Lashing out and blaming others for how you feel
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