Burnout hitting telecoms talent

Jul 28 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A grim picture of working life in the telecoms sector has been painted by new research revealing that almost six out of 10 telecoms employees have experienced symptoms of over-work or burnout in the last six months.

A new report from global recruitment and human resources consultancy, Hudson, has revealed that workplace burnout is having a direct impact on the bottom line and corporate reputation of one in six (16 per cent) telecoms businesses.

The research, undertaken among both employees and their employers within the telecoms sector, found that 59 per cent of employees claimed that the frenetic pace of business life in the sector has led to them suffering one or more symptom of burn out.

Seven percent of the HR managers interviewed have lost one or more members of staff due to burnout, with a quarter witnessing a decline in productivity and more than eight out of 10 reporting an increase in the number of sick days being taken.

Over a quarter of employees within the sector said they have experienced physical or emotional exhaustion in the last six months with a similar proportion suffering loss of sleep or illness due to worrying about work.

More than half employees and employers felt the situation has worsened in the last five years, with the main causes being the increased pace of business life and more competition, demanding round-the-clock availability and response but with fewer employees to do the work.

To make matters worse, there seems to be a worrying state of denial among telecoms employers. Whilst more than nine out of 10 acknowledge that burnout exists as a real workplace issue, only a quarter admit it is present in their own company compared to six out of 10 of their employees.

Two-thirds of employers have no formal process in place for helping an employee who is suffering from burnout, and a quarter of employees are concerned that their employers have made no attempts to address increased workloads.

When asked how they should tackle the incidence of burnout in this industry, employers suggested building better support networks, providing better guidance on roles and delivery expectations and helping employees build additional skills

The idea of giving exhausted staff a respite and simply encouraging them to work fewer hours were the least recommended solutions.

"Working long hours and being available 24/7 goes with the territory for many telecoms workers," said Phil Clarke, Director of Telecoms at Hudson UK.

"Burnout, however, goes deeper than this. It is worrying that business managers do not appear to be able to increase productivity and hold on to top talent at the same time.

"For employers, an increase in absenteeism, premature career change and a decline in interest and proactivity among employees can have a serious long-term effect on business success." He added that in a skills-short market where employees can call the shots, there is a clear message here for businesses to take responsibility and address the root causes of burnout.

"By giving employees the right help and information, employers can ensure they retain their best talent and eliminate the impact that burnout can have on the bottom line."

"Equally, employees need to ask for help before it gets too late and become involved in designing a more effective and manageable role for themselves."