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Burnout vs Technology: A Dual Role in the Workplace


The Mental Health Challenges Employees Are Facing Today

Businesses worldwide are faced with addressing the rising mental health and wellbeing concerns of employees, with the Risk Outlook report for 2024 stating that 80% of organisations say their employees are likely to be impacted by stress and burnout in the next 12 months. In 2023, International SOS delivered hundreds of bespoke mental health and wellbeing projects, programmes and webinars for organisations. Whether or not you’ve noticed a rising demand in your own organisation, the likelihood that mental health and wellbeing issues are impacting your workforce is indisputable.


Burnout has been widely discussed, with the World Health Organization (WHO) defining and characterising it as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.1

According to Dr Rachel Lewis, Managing Partner at Affinity Health at Work, “Two or three years ago we used to see levels of burnout between 11% and 18%, now we are seeing levels between 20% and 30% and many reporting levels of burnout of 50%”.

Understanding Burnout

Some common signs that employees are experiencing burnout include.

  • Physical Exhaustion: Employees experience extreme fatigue, disrupted sleep patterns, and physical strain.
  • Emotional Detachment: Individuals become emotionally distant from work, colleagues, or personal life.
  • Reduced Efficacy: Burnout affects professional performance, productivity, and job satisfaction. 

Measures to Manage Burnout 

Here are some strategies that organisations can implement to minimise the risk of burnout.

  1. Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to maintain a healthy balance between their work and personal life. This could include flexible working hours, remote work options, and ensuring that employees take regular breaks and time off.
  2. Provide Mental Health Resources: Make resources available to employees to support their mental health. This could include counselling services, mental health days, educational webinars and training for managers to better support their teams. Companies can outsource their mental health support with services like Koa, who have an app available to employees for support anywhere, anytime.
  3. Foster a Supportive Work Environment and Culture: Create a culture that values mental health and wellbeing. This includes open communication about mental health, reducing stigma, and providing support for employees experiencing mental health challenges. Empower employees to prioritise their work and streamline efficiencies.
  4. Encourage Regular Exercise and Healthy Eating: Physical health is closely linked to mental health. Encourage employees to regularly exercise and provide healthy eating options in the workplace. Step-count, prize-winning programmes can be a successful strategy in combatting burnout in corporate environments.  

The Role of Technology

Technology plays a dual role in the burnout equation, it can act as both an enabler and a solution. Given the prevalence of remote work and digital connectivity, employees are capable of working from anywhere, giving rise to an ‘always-on’ culture, where emails, notifications and virtual meetings follow you everywhere. 
New legislation is existing and emerging globally, citing an employee’s ‘right to disconnect’. Countries like France and Germany have already legislated a right to disconnect, with Australia currently debating the topic in parliament. The proposed amendment to the Fair Work Act of 2009 is summarised as, ‘prevent employers from contacting employees outside of work hours; and provide that employees are not required to monitor, read or respond to work communications from their employer outside of work hours’.2


But How Could Technology Can Help?

  • AI and Automation: Leveraging AI tools can reduce repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up time for strategic and creative work. There are workload management tools that use algorithms to prioritise tasks, apps that filter and categorise notifications by importance and chatbots that can handle routine queries. It is important to strategically choose a small suite of tools that deliver a cost-saving benefit, and not to overwhelm teams with multiple tools.
  • Digital Detoxes: It can be helpful to encourage employees to unplug during non-working hours. To achieve this consider implementing digital detox challenges across the organisation and celebrate employee achievements.
  • Training: Digital education can help streamline efficiencies for workforces. Consider sending educational emails or holding webinars with tools and tips for leveraging digital tools. e.g. how to customise notifications to reduce information overload and how to set quiet hours without notifications.

Remember, every organisation is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to engage with your employees, understand their needs, and develop strategies that work for your specific context.

How International SOS Can Help

Managing mental health and wellbeing risks in the workforce is more critical in 2024 than ever before. This is reflected in International SOS’ Risk Outlook report for 2024 stating that 80% of organisations say their employees are likely to be impacted by stress and burnout in the next 12 months. Organisations must take proactive steps to understand burnout and consider if they have the resources, training programmes, technology and strategies in place to support their employees. International SOS continues to help clients implement wellbeing programmes to support mental health and improve lives.