95% of Hong Kong workers at Tipping Point of Burnout: Learn to Help Yourself and Others

Updated: Jul 9

According to Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Study, an alarming 95 percent of Hong Kong workers feel at risk of burnout this year - the highest among markets across Asia.


The negative impacts of burnout include:

  • A weaker immune system, and increased risk of COVID-19

  • Weight gain, and greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer

  • Lack of energy and thus lower productivity

  • More prone to making mistakes

  • Emotional exhaustion: Short-tempered, Irritable, Less Optimistic, and negatively affects interpersonal relationships with colleagues, friends, and family

  • Forgetfulness and Brain Fog

  • Loss of motivation, lower sense of belonging

  • Further health complications

Burnt out employees translates to absenteeism, unproductive teams, and higher healthcare costs to an organization.


Burnout negatively impacts individuals and organizations.

What causes burnout and how can we avoid it?


Picture a house. If you build a house with inconsistent bricks, low quality cement, and improper structure, it’ll get knocked down when a typhoon comes.


Cells are the building blocks of our bodies, and it is important we account for health and wellbeing so we have the resilience to make it past the typhoons, hurricanes – even the tsunamis and earthquakes of life. To a certain extent, healthy cells call for lifestyle medicine, diet and exercise.


But you can’t succeed if you don’t have the right mindset.


Healthy Mental Attitude: Avoid Burnout by being Compassionate towards Yourself and Staying Positive

In collaboration with The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN) and the Center Space, we delivered a Wellbeing Workshop & Laughter Yoga workshop for a group of entrepreneurs and aspiring leaders.


Wonderful "Empower the Entrepreneurs" session with The Entrepreneurs Network and the Center Space

Burnout is a hot topic among local entrepreneurs as they have had to cope with the rollercoaster of business challenges in the past few years – taking care of not just themselves but also their employees.


To prevent burnout, it helps to understand your limit and not be too hard on yourself. This means being mindful of your capacity and realizing when you’re overexerting yourself. If you don’t have the time, ability or bandwidth to do something, it is important to be honest with yourself and learn to say no.


Are you a perfectionist? Consider giving it your best and leaving the rest.


Don’t be afraid of reaching out for help when you really need it.


Self-compassion is another tool, where you need to treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion as you treat others.


The session with The Entrepreneurs Network was about Wellbeing and Laughter Yoga – which is a form of Positive Reframing. Whether you’re an executive, entrepreneur, or an employee, regardless of the challenges that come your way, it always helps to stay optimistic and recognize obstacles as learning and growth opportunities.


At the workshop, I told my story, and I empathized with the entrepreneurs in the audience.


Sharing my story at the Workshop.

Using Laughter Yoga and Positive Reframing to face life's challenges.

3 years back, I ran 2 businesses and they both slowed down significantly because of COVID.

But I saw this obstacle as an opportunity. My husband, daughter and I sat down for a chat. What strengths did I have? What strengths did my husband and daughter have? We pooled our resources together to identify a pain point int the market and started offering a service to help others. A Multi-Purpose Studio with Video Production, Video Editing and Video Transfer ServicesHK Recording Studio.

HK Recording Studio is our most profitable business today, and it continues to grow.


Instead of focusing on what didn’t go well and becoming more prone to emotional exhaustion, I chose to build on strengths and the solution came.


Apply Positive Reframing to your life. How can you look at challenges and turn them into opportunities?


Help Your Employees Prevent Burnout: Job Satisfaction, Positivity in Company Culture and going Beyond Work-Life Balance

In 2019, burnout was classified as a "syndrome” in the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases. In a few European countries, including Sweden, burnout is an official diagnosis that can entitle its sufferers to paid time off and other sickness benefits.


In Finland, burned-out workers can qualify for paid rehabilitation workshops that feature 10 days of intensive individual and group activities, including counseling, exercise and nutrition classes.


According to Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Study, employees say the top reason for burnout is not feeling sufficiently rewarded for their efforts.


Several companies have addressed this problem creatively.


At Wells Fargo, a vice president named Ben Soccorsy created videos of clients talking about how the company’s low-interest loans helped them reduce and eventually get rid of unwanted debt. “In many cases, customers felt like they had a massive weight lifted off their shoulders: they now had a plan for paying down their debt,” Soccorsy says. When bankers watched the videos, “it was like a light switch turned on. Bankers realized the impact their work could have— that this loan can really make a difference in customers’ lives. It was a really compelling motivator.”


Medtronic is a health and medical care tech solutions provider. Employees at Medtronic —from engineers to salespeople—pay visits to hospitals to see their medical technologies benefiting patients. In his book, Give and Take, Adam Grant interviewed the former CEO of Medtronic, Bill George.


Employees at Medtronic —from engineers to salespeople—pay visits to hospitals to see their medical technologies benefiting patients.

“When they’re exhausted,” former Medtronic CEO Bill George told Adam, “it’s very important that they get out there and see procedures. They can see their impact on patients, which reminds them that they’re here to restore people to full life and health.”

Medtronic also holds an annual party for the entire company, more than thirty thousand employees, at which six patients are invited to share their stories about how the company’s products have changed their lives. When they see for the first time how much their work can matter, many employees break down into tears.


An Employee Appreciation initiative or a simple thank you gratitude ritual can go a long way in improving the Employee Experience.


A day of volunteer work / CSR community project can go a long way in motivating employees.

To train employees to deal with challenges, it’s important for organizations to build and strengthen Positive Psychological Capital through workshops. The H.E.R.O model from positive psychology encompasses Hope, Efficacy, Resilience, and Optimism (HERO) – which are all transferrable skills.


Finally, if employees themselves can’t figure out when they’re about to burn out, it’s important that managers and leaders step in.


St. Louis-based digital advertising and marketing agency HLK Chief People Officer Marlena Edwards, has given employees the flexibility and autonomy to work with supervisors and decide on a schedule that suits lifestyles and delivers in terms of performance.


In a Washington Post article, she mentions company leaders can proactively spot workers or teams who haven't taken time off in a while and encourage them to do so.


"That's how we're going to eliminate burnout - by identifying people who haven't really taken the time to recalibrate and focus on themselves," she said.

The Mercer report stated employee well-being is perceived by executives as the people initiative that will deliver the second greatest ROI in the next two years (after reskilling).


What’s your organization doing to prevent burnout?


References:

  1. https://hbr.org/2018/04/what-makes-entrepreneurs-burn-out

  2. https://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news/section/11/242660/Alarming-data-on-workers-facing-burnout

  3. https://positivepsychology.com/psychological-capital-psycap/#life-psychological-capital

  4. https://www.mercer.com/newsroom/global-talent-trends-2022.html

  5. Soo Youn. "Soothing the Corporate Burnout." The Washington Post [Washington, D.C] 2021: The Washington Post, 2021-07-04. Web.

  6. Grant, A. (2013). Give and take: A revolutionary approach to success. Penguin.

  7. Malesic, Jonathan. "Burnout Dominated 2021. Here’s the History of Our Burnout Problem." The Washington Post [Washington, D.C] 2022: The Washington Post, 2022-01-01. Web.

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