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Senior leaders more at risk of burnout than CEOs, according to new research

by Wanda Rich
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ECI Partners and the School for CEOs outline how businesses can identify, and prevent burnout, as well as support mental health and wellbeing

LONDON – 3 June 2021 – Senior leaders are at a significantly higher risk of burnout than CEOs, according to research from the School for CEOs. Despite having higher levels of responsibility, 22% of CEOs were at high risk of burnout during lockdown compared to 34% of executive leaders, showing the risk of burnout is not equal among everyone.

In line with this, ECI Partners, the leading growth-focused mid-market private equity firm, held HR leadership workshops with the School for CEOs for its portfolio, to discuss what the pandemic has taught us about burnout and shares its findings.

Rich Pearce, Investment Manager at ECI Partners said:

“Burnout is not a new issue facing businesses, however the last year has highlighted its impact and prevalence. As it’s directly linked to work, businesses need to commit to understanding how to spot it, support employees and ultimately prevent staff getting to ‘burnout’ stage in the future.” 

“With the country opening up again, there are a lot of changes coming, and experience of burnout may well accelerate before things get better. Businesses therefore need to think about their long-term plans, so staff feel supported through the transition and beyond. Since most companies are planning for hybrid models in future, they will need to develop ways to monitor burn-out risk in this new environment.”

Additionally, the research also revealed that 61% of leaders aged 24-38 were at high risk of burnout, compared with 36% of leaders over 50. Women were more at risk than men, with 47% of women experiencing burnout and exhaustion compared with 40% of men.

The most effective and straightforward way to prevent burnout is to encourage an open dialogue – pulse surveys or regular check ins between line managers and their staff can be a great tool. Similarly, encouraging staff to take breaks, especially when working virtually, can help alleviate stresses and support positive wellbeing. Initiatives which focus on promoting these strategies will enable businesses to help reduce the chance of burnout among their staff.

Rich Pearce adds, “Communication is key, encouraging social hubs both internally and externally, or offering therapy and counselling programmes that can help start the conversation and show people they’re not alone. Whilst Zoom and Teams have become an integral part of everyone’s lives over the past twelve months, encouraging screen free time and shortening meetings gives individuals the opportunity to take breaks and go outside.”

“The pandemic will hopefully be the turning point in discussions about mental health and wellbeing that leads to better long-term outcomes, rather than viewed as a temporary problem that is resolved once life goes ‘back to normal’.”