The road to success is not without its potholes. Long hours and high demands placed on executives and business owners can lead to considerable stress and ultimately executive burnout.
Although many of us think it’s possible to live on pure adrenalin alone, sadly it’s not the case. A 2018 Gallup study of 7,500 employees found that a significant 23% reported feeling burnt out at work very often or always, and 44% feel burnt out at work sometimes.
These figures tell us that there is a considerable problem in the workplace and that whilst many companies foster employee engagement programmes and promote a culture of care and collaboration, there is still a high demand placed on executives, especially those managing teams, and this often leads to physical and mental health issues.
What is executive burnout?
As far back as 1897, executive burnout was recognised as a problem, when Murray Finch-Hatton, the 12th Earl of Winchilsea wrote to his fellow board members at the Great Horseless Carriage company:
“Gentlemen — I believe you are aware that about three months ago, as the result of overwork, my health suddenly broke down, and Sir William Broadbent . . . ordered me at once to go to the Riviera.”
Unfortunately, Murray Finch-Hatton’s rehabilitation was unsuccessful. On his return, he was deemed unfit to work and had to step down from his role. A year later, at 47, he was dead.
Executive burnout can affect us in a number of different ways:
- Impatience and irritability at work and at home
- Loss of work-life balance
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of energy
- Depression or anxiety
- Under or over-eating
- Physical ailments such as headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and, immune system disorders
One of the biggest concerns of executive burnout is self-medication.
Using drugs and alcohol to get through busy or stressful periods can negatively impact our daily lives and may lead to a substance abuse problem.
The cost to companies of executive burnout
When work-related stress leads to drug and alcohol abuse it has a major effect on our work quality and productivity levels.
Feeling stressed and self-medicating to get through these periods is not a weakness on the part of the employee. Light use of drugs or alcohol are commonplace in the executive world.
They are seen as necessary supplements to push through physical and mental boundaries and perform at the highest level. However, when we are pushed to this limit it’s time to get our priorities in order.
Companies must also take responsibility for the health and well-being of employees because the cost of replacing good team members is expensive.
A recent article in the Huffington Post suggested that losing good team members can cost an average of $25,000 dollars in the hiring of new staff, and it doesn’t stop there. There is also a loss in productivity, with time spent on training up new employees, which put costs nearer to $50,000.
Aside from the financial costs, losing a good employee has a negative effect on staff morale and can lead to a loss of motivation amongst the rest of the team.
It’s much better to invest in employee health and wellbeing, and nurture their growth in the long-term.
The UK charity minds@work is doing just that: mentoring companies through storytelling and events to eradicate the stigma of mental illness in the workplace.
Getting the right treatment
As individuals suffering from executive burnout, one of the most successful ways of repairing the damage caused by over-stress and substance abuse is to seek alternative counselling and therapy.
Whether it’s coupled with substance abuse or not, once executive burnout takes hold it’s vital to get help as quickly as possible, as we’ve already acknowledged that high levels of stress can lead to physical and mental health issues.
One of the best ways to do this is to step away from routine and participate in an executive rehabilitation programme. Here at White River Manor we offer specialised treatment for executive burnout and substance abuse in an idyllic location.
Our executive treatment centre is located in a picturesque setting, nestled along the White River, Mpumalanga, South Africa. We are just 17 kms away from Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves and home to the Big 5.
White River Manor offers a safe and protected environment where you can completely disconnect from environmental factors, such as career stress, peer influence and personal relationships, and focus on YOU and the road to recovery.
When you choose to make the changes that will improve your life, it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand your problem and have the experience to support you through the recovery period.
We have a dedicated, on-site team of experts with decades of experience working with high profile business people who have been through exactly the same situation as you.
A stay at our five star recovery and wellness lodge means you get to step away from negativity and win back your purpose. Outside of the therapy programme you can participate in new and exciting experiences which can help you to see the world from a new perspective.
A holistic approach to executive burnout
Clinical research shows that social and cultural constraints can lead people to have thoughts or feelings, or behave in a specific way which increases stress levels.
One such pattern is that executives tend to normalise stress as they want to appear infallible. They appear to be resilient to 80 hour weeks and are connected 24/7, but on the inside, our bodies often can’t cope with this amount of pressure.
To understand and help an individual with executive burnout a qualitative and holistic approach is necessary.
At White River Manor our team of psychologists take time to explore the characteristics of each client, taking every element of the client’s life into consideration, and help them to find a healthy balance within all areas of life.
We look at factors, such as the psychology and emotions of a person, together with their physical well-being and the spiritual aspects that tie these all together.
We put a high emphasis on daily exercise and a healthy diet during a client’s stay, both of which are essential to obtaining and maintaining long term balance.
If a person can learn to love themselves they will in turn begin to look after themselves. Finding healthy outlets in life are key to dealing with the stresses of modern day living.
Staying comfortable and connected
Of course, we understand that not all clients are able to disconnect completely from work and family life.
Our luxury recovery and wellness centre incorporates a business centre with Wifi and video conferencing facilities giving you the freedom and flexibility for when you need to stay in touch.
There are a range of comfortable suites which provide comfort and privacy for your stay. All set within a beautiful 100-year-old garden with a swimming pool.
You can also enjoy a gourmet chef, Milk Bar, Café and delicatessen. Everything you might enjoy from a five-star luxury hotel environment but with a dedicated team of professionals prioritizing your health and welfare.
At some point in life nearly all of us need a White River Manor. A place to reconnect and refocus with ourselves. But this is especially the case for executives going through burnout.
They say a change is as good as a rest. At White River Manor you will enjoy both: time for healing and a change of perspective.
Contact us today for a free and confidential conversation with one of our highly trained professionals.