Breaking the Burnout Chain with The Workload Project

In every organisation, no matter how successful or efficient, the unexpected can happen. Imagine a line of dominos all poised and ready, their patterns mirroring the intricate systems of a bustling workplace. All it takes is one push – one domino to fall – and the chain reaction begins, toppling one piece after another in a seemingly endless progression. This is the story of how burnout, often born of chronic stress and excessive workload, can spark a ripple effect throughout an entire organisation.

Consider the case of an employee experiencing burnout. This person hasn’t just woken up one day in this state; they’ve been wrestling with chronic stress for about six months, their strength and energy gradually depleted, their mental health quietly crumbling. By the time they reach their doctor, they’ve reached a point of exhaustion that doesn’t get relieved by rest. The doctor suspects burnout, but they now have to wait another seven weeks until they can see a psychologist for confirmation and treatment. By nine weeks, only 50% of injured employees ever return.

Back in the office, the dominoes continue to fall. The team finds out their colleague has burned out. The workload of the absent member, not disappearing into thin air, gets redistributed among the remaining team members. Morale drops as the team is forced to bear an additional load, their own stress levels gradually mounting. And they start comparing their own state of mind with that of their injured colleague.

The manager, feeling responsible, loses confidence in their ability to effectively manage the team. Another domino tumbles. As the recruitment team scrambles to find an interim replacement, their workload increases, and yet another domino teeters on the brink.

All the while, the company is simultaneously bearing the costs of the unwell employee, the new recruit, medical treatments, and the potential loss of productivity from a team under increased pressure, and increased insurance premiums. It’s only a matter of time until the next employee visits the doctor with similar complaints, thereby resetting the cycle.

It’s no surprise that “workload stress” is the number one reason for absence in the Netherlands, accounting for 37% of all sick days. Workload, indeed, is the prime contributor to burnout.

Prevent Burnout Through Intervention.

This cascade of dominos, while daunting, is not unstoppable. But it requires targeted preventative intervention.

Successful programs are designed to break this chain early. It’s how we developed The Workload Project. The program identifies and removes two critical dominoes in this sequence: chronic stress due to workload demands, and the inability to effectively communicate or intervene when the workload surpasses an individual’s coping threshold. By addressing these issues head-on, The Workload Project significantly reduces the probability of an employee reaching a state of burnout.

Rather than paying for and treating burnout after it’s already affected your organisation, we invite you to consider a new approach: prevention. By targeting the root cause – workload – you can halt the chain reaction, safeguard your team’s morale, protect your managers’ confidence, and maintain productivity levels.

Don’t let your organisation become a victim of the domino effect. Choose to stand up against burnout, and protect your most valuable asset: your people.