Stress, job exhaustion, burnout…Managers are all too aware of such words. But do they realise what lies behind these symptoms? A June 2019 study by Cadremploi scrutinises and analyses how managers feel about such phenomena. It found that burnout is taken very seriously by managers but they seem to be short on solutions.

Burnout haunts people’s minds

“Not all die, but all stricken are.” This phrase is taken from La Fontaine’s fable, The Animals Sick of the Plague. It has already used as the title for at least one film and one book dealing with suffering at the workplace. Where is the connection between burnout and the plague? In both cases, people feel that it affects all levels of the hierarchy and that there is no solution to stem the epidemic…

Today no one thinks of playing down the phenomenon or treating it purely as a private-life matter. 95% of managers are of the opinion that burnout should be seen as an occupational disease. One in two managers state they have suffered a burnout. Amongst these, 86% claim they did not get proper support nor enough information during that time.

Burnout is the company’s problem

Companies are still slow in putting in the necessary means to cope with workplace suffering. 71% of managers believe their employer has not put in place prevention measures to combat burnout. Yet, burnout engenders significant costs. According to the people surveyed, 57% of burnout cases gave rise to sick leave; and about the same percentage ended in leaving the company (37% in a negotiated departure and 22% by resignation). Burnout is therefore a scourge that affects people but also companies, bringing with it absenteeism and staff turnover.

Managers, in the front line but with no solutions.

What to do when faced with burnout? For managers there seems to be no response. 87% feel they have not been trained to cope. And when a colleague is affected, initial advice – cited by 50% of managers – is: “I recommended he/she takes sick leave”.

Yet, when faced with burnout, managers are in a paradoxical situation. They feel under threat but it is also their own fault. The first three causes cited by managers are directly attributable to management itself: job pressure, excessive workload and lack of recognition for work done.

The only attitude towards burnout: denial!

It is undoubtedly this paradoxical situation which pushes managers to shy away from reality. They recognise the extent of the phenomenon, and even claim to have a good knowledge of it: 72% of managers say they have had a colleague with burnout and do feel they can detect the ailment. Even so, of those managers who have a team below them, only 25% confirm having had a case of burnout in their team. In other words, there is burnout throughout the company but not in my department! Burnout, a shameful management disease, seems easier to detect in oneself or in one’s colleagues than among one’s subordinates…

The study therefore highlights the need to put in place emergency solutions to prevent and treat burnout, but it also highlights the need for training and support for managers in the face of this phenomenon which puts them at odds with their everyday mission. Without a strong impetus and a clear management strategy, local managers are condemned to be executioners and victims of a scourge against which they are powerless.

Solutions do exist

Gerep, an player in social protection for 30 years, has clearly identified the challenges encountered by its clients in the fight against absenteeism and offers concrete measures through the implementation of Quality of Life at Work solutions. For more information, please take a look at our white paper available here: Livre Blanc de la Qualité de Vie au Travail.