Is your government job making you sick?
By Rebecca Christoforidis
Published March 31, 2023
"65% of government employees are suffering from burnout."
The combination of long hours, heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and an acute shortage of staff are all contributing to the dramatic increase in burnout rates among public sector employees.
While no sector or industry is exempt from burnout, government employees are more acutely affected. This may be due in large part, to the increased stress they face resulting from a higher level of exposure to violence or abuse and the stigma and discrimination related to mental health, which can make it harder for them to seek support and treatment.
Recognizing and addressing mental and other health issues among government workers is essential to ensuring a healthy and productive workforce, and to promoting the well-being of employees and the communities they serve.
For a deeper understanding, let's take a closer look at some of the underlying causes and what governments can do to redress the balance.
Government workers have spent the past three years dealing with a global pandemic. They have been faced with a worried public’s need for reassurance in the face of considerable uncertainty.
At the same time, they are dealing with an acute shortage of staff due to an uptick in retirements while contending with a cumbersome and lengthy hiring process to fill empty roles.
A limited staff must take on an increasingly heavier workload. This sheer volume of work can lead to fatigue and burnout as employees struggle to keep up with their responsibilities.
Administrative red tape
Government workers are known for being mired in red tape. The sheer number of forms and documents they handle on a daily basis can be daunting. All of those processes and procedures can significantly increase stress levels.
Lack of funding
Public sector organizations are being forced to do more with less. Lack of funding is a constant concern; the inevitable consequence is fewer people doing far more work. This puts a heavier burden on government workers.
Government workers are proximally closer to political changes and fluctuations, which can result in increased stress and anxiety. The need to manage public perception can be daunting, with government staff feeling the need to tread carefully to avoid missteps. This further intensifies their stress levels.
The consequences of burnout can be far-reaching. Following are just a few of its negative effects:
Burnout can have serious impacts on health, both physical and mental. Chronic stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.
As employees struggle to manage increased workloads, they may begin to make mistakes. This can negatively affect the quality of services provided to the public.
Poor job satisfaction
An employee who is dissatisfied with their work may start to resent the job itself. This can lead to high turnover rates and difficulty attracting and retaining new talent.
So, what steps can government agencies take to help their staff avoid mental and physical burnout? Below are some practical suggestions you may want to consider:
Provide adequate tools and resources
Ensure that your employees have the tools and resources needed to do their jobs effectively. To combat the shortage of workers, consider automating repetitive tasks and procedures by turning to digital solutions to increase operational efficiency. By doing this, you can significantly reduce the workload of your staff and reduce costs at the same time.
Promote work-life balance
Encourage employees to take time off and prioritize self-care. Offer flexible schedules and remote work options, where possible.
Provide training and support
Provide employees with the resources they need to perform their jobs effectively, including training, mentorship, and support. Encourage employees to pursue professional development opportunities that can help them build skills and increase job satisfaction.
Recognize and reward employees
Recognize the hard work and dedication of government employees through incentives, awards, and other forms of recognition.
Address systemic issues
Address chronic issues that contribute to burnout, such as administrative burdens, resource constraints, and political pressures.
Develop a support system
Create a support system for employees by providing resources such as confidential counseling, mentoring programs, and employee assistance programs.
By prioritizing the well-being of your staff, you can ensure that they are better able to provide essential services to the public while maintaining their health and happiness.
You can also help ease their workload with a platform that streamlines their tasks. To find out more, get in touch with us today.