The UK is getting ready for its third general election in four years. Hanging over everything is the ghost of Brexit, which in itself has been a source of tense debate, political fractures and fallout.
But all of this happens outside of work, right?
Political debate does happen at work. And, because topics can include everything from immigration and equality to employment law, debates can quickly become arguments. These, in turn, can become misconduct, and result in disciplinaries and grievances.
But that’s just the impact you can see clearly.
Political burnout can be much harder to spot, and it can be equally as damaging.
What is it?
Burnout is a well-documented state of mind—a state of emotional, physical, and/or mental exhaustion rooted in stress.
- Difficult sleeping
- Sleeping too much
- Difficulty concentrating
Political burnout refers to the cause of this stress. The initial feeling may not even occur in the workplace.
It can start as a debate between family members, partners, friends, and filter through to all aspects of an employee’s life. Then, it can impact workplace relationships, devastate productivity, and have a detrimental effect on mental health.
Is it really that bad?
In 2018, nearly 600,000 people suffered from burnout in the UK. As a result, in June 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced plans to add a more detailed definition of burnout to the latest edition of International Classification of Diseases.
Meanwhile, In the US, studies suggest that burnout contributes to a loss of somewhere between £150 billion to $300 billion annually for employers.
So how do I solve it?
Sometimes it has nothing to do with work—and you have to accept that. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to help.
Firstly, support employees. One way to combat voter apathy and stress on the day is to allow time off to cast a vote, as the 12th December is a work day. This will help reduce stress for those employees who have a busy schedule outside of work.
Next, where possible, you should encourage friendly discussion.
This can be tricky, so don’t pursue it if you don’t feel it’s right. However, in some instances, being able to actually chat about the issues in a non-judgmental way can be a stress reliever.
If you notice an employee is particularly struggling, you can suggest extra support. If you subscribe to our Employee Assistance Programme, staff can seek advice through our sister company, Health Assured. If not, you could have an informal discussion with an employee to see if they require counselling or further support.
Having the space to open up will help employees feel more comfortable in the workplace, especially as the political tension increases.
Burnout is a real, diagnosable condition. It can be caused by politics, both in and out of the workplace. Avoid the costs to your business, and maintain the wellbeing of your employees by providing further support where needed.
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