Can businesses spot warning signs that their staff are about to burn out? Absolutely, says Amy King, Business Psychologist and Co-Founder of Workplace mental wellbeing platform provider People Matter.
With workplace shortages making headlines, the last thing businesses need now is to lose staff. But spotting pressures that make people want to quit isn’t always easy. After all, the boss isn’t necessarily the first person people turn to when they are feeling unhappy at work.
‘Burnout’ is recognised by the World Health Organisation as an occupational phenomenon leading to exhaustion, feelings of negativity and reduced professional efficacy. Not only is it a deeply unpleasant experience, it also has cost implications for employers through reduced productivity, more sick days, or people simply quitting their jobs. The negative effects can spread to the rest of a team too.
Founded after personal experience of burnout, People Matter’s aim is to help organisations measure and improve mental wellbeing in the workplace – recognising warning signs and helping companies address pressure points. People Matter is working with Experian and their UK workforce of 3,000 people and last week won the 2021 CIPD award for Best Use of People Analytics.
People Matter’s technology works by looking at two sets of data; the first is subjective data captured through an app that gives insight on emotions and feelings experienced at work. The second is digital, capturing information on the workplace environment. Analysing the two together – respectfully in a way that never identifies individuals – provides employers with a picture of mental wellbeing in their workplace, giving the ability to identify the red flags that can signal when parts of the organisation are starting to struggle.
Amy King, Business Psychologist and Co-Founder of People Matter, knows first-hand what it feels like to experience burn-out:
“A few years ago I was doing a job I loved and progressing fast in my career. But over time, things deteriorated. My day started at 5am, I had a two-hour commute, endless meetings, people queuing to see me and at the same time my social life disappeared. Things changed gradually; it took a long time before I realised that I wasn’t ok. The ridiculous thing is that I actually did my dissertation on burnout, yet it still took so long to recognise that it was happening to me.”
Eventually Amy quit her job. A year later she met serial technology entrepreneur Nigel Winship. Through his work with IBM, Nigel had seen how the power of data was being used for simple tasks about productivity. But Amy and Nigel realised there was a gap in using data to look at mental wellbeing.
Nigel Winship, Managing Director and Co-Founder of People Matter, comments:
“We all leave a digital footprint of our working day – so we asked, what story does that tell about the intensity of our working patterns? For example, are people regularly receiving and responding to emails outside of working hours, are calendars full of back-to-back meetings and clashes? If things get out of control that can create pressure and stress than ends up reducing productivity. The data is there but companies aren’t usually looking for it.”
“Privacy and ethics are key to everything we do and data is always anonymous. Of course there are plenty of external factors affecting wellbeing that employers can’t control. But it is in their interest not to stick their heads in the sand about mental health at work, but to look at it, address it, and tackle areas where things can be made better.”