According to TUC.org, the average daily commute is around 52 minutes, which adds up to just over 4 hours a week, leaving less time for family and personal activities. Without as much rest time at home, long commutes eat away your downtime and lead to stress, and eventually to burning out. Interestingly enough, people working in London are said to have the longest commutes in the UK, due to the costs of living in the city, congestion and delays due to public transport.
What is burnout?
So, what actually is work-related burnout? Job burnout is a condition of physical or emotional exhaustion along with a feeling of reduced accomplishment. Essentially, it’s that horrible feeling you get when you feel like you are working hard and receiving little or no gain from it. This can have a considerable negative impact, both physically and mentally on your health. It’s a result of prolonged or chronic job stress, leaving you feeling like you cannot perform or are not able to do your job, eventually resenting or even hating your working environment. Although it is not a medical condition, it’s recognised as an extreme reaction to chronic stress and can definitely lead to other medical conditions, both physical and mental. This is not even considering the retention issues that it can cause a business.
How does a long commute contribute to burnout?
If you commute more than 35 minutes a day, then you are at greater risk of work-related burnout. The stress of leaving and arriving on time, being stuck in traffic jams and delays on public transport can cause a higher likelihood of it occurring to you. As an employer, whether your employees drive to work or take the bus or train, a long commute can cause an accumulation of anxiety which may manifest itself in the workplace.
Most cope well with a small amount of stress, however, when the same stressful situation occurs day after day without resolution, it could lead to burnout in your staff. Most areas of the UK have seen commuting durations increase over the past few years, threatening the ever-so-important good work-life balance. Clearly, recognising the signs and investing in preventing burnout from happening before it is too late is vital.
Would you recognise the signs?
We all hear the term ‘stress’ used frequently in and around the office. “I’m so stressed”, “What a stressful meeting” and so on. And most of us definitely know what it feels like. But sometimes, it goes beyond that. And the hardest part of it all is as an employer, knowing who is on the path to burnout.
Here are some symptoms and behaviours that you should look out for in your employees:
- Growing increasingly cynical about working conditions and the people they work with
- Headaches and intestinal issues mentioned
- Looking like they’re feeling drained and tired
- Lacking energy and seeming to get less work done
- Feeling negative about daily tasks
- Difficulty concentrating
Some of these symptoms are also shared with mental health conditions. So, if you or any members of your staff are experiencing any of these signs it is a good idea to consult a medical professional.
Are your employees experiencing commute-related burnout?
You may be able to spot some of the signs above by simply observing your staff – but it’s impossible to really know how they feel on the inside. If you’re concerned about your employees, why not send out an anonymous survey or organise 1-to-1 meetings? This will give you an insight into their feelings and at the same time show them that you’re interested in their well-being. Ask questions such as how long their commute takes, how they travel and how they think their commute affects their productivity.
When you evaluate the responses, you can assess your commuter services and benefits to see what is working and what isn’t. This will give you, as an employer, the opportunity to reduce stress caused by long commutes by putting in place the right measures to prevent employee burnout.
How to cut out employee burnout
If the commute to your office is taking its toll on your employees, what should you do to reduce the pressure? Firstly, decide whether you definitely need your staff physically present in the office. If you do, why not look into offering commuter services? Taking the stress and cost out of travel by offering Zeelo coaches or minivans to your workplace gives your staff some time to relax on their way to work. It’s also got a great social element to it – employees travelling together promotes good relationships at work. Finally, it reduces the need for parking infrastructure investment and will relieve car congestion in and around your area.
Another option is to offer flexible and home working options. This can be great for efficiency as it gives your staff the chance to work at their most productive times of day without worrying about the commute. Cycle-to-work schemes are also a great idea depending on how far your employees travel. Discuss the options with your staff and find out what is best for them and for you as a business!
Work burnout is a serious issue that is often taboo, and can result in increased sickness, reduced productivity and eventually staff leaving your company. It’s a good idea to tackle this monster before it becomes a real problem and have a decent strategy in place to make sure it does not happen in your workplace. Whether it’s offering commuter services or introducing flexible working schemes, there are steps you can put in place to reduce the stress of long commutes your staff do every day and ensure job burnout stays far away. Plus, a great way to promote your business and recruit new employees!