In her first blog for The Journal, Hannah Meads tackles the issue of work-induced burnout
Hello! I'm Hannah Meads, your new CII blogger for the year. I have been working in the insurance profession for more than 10 years now -- working my way up and finding my feet as a broker in the Lloyd's market. 'Work hard, play hard' has definitely been my mantra through life so far.
I am often told by my loved ones that if I don't slow down, I'm going to "burn out". But what does that actually mean?
In May 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) redefined its definition of burnout, recognising it in the latest International Classification of Diseases manual as "a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed".
Importantly, the term burnout should only be used specifically in occupational-related circumstances and not in other areas of life. So, how can you tell if you're on the road to burnout? And what is the difference between a busy workload and something more serious?
Author of The Burnout Solution, SiobhÃ¡n Murray, says: "A lot of the signs and symptoms of pre-burnout would be very similar to depression." She goes on to note that recognising certain behaviours, such as alcohol dependence, or constantly relying on sugar and caffeine to get you through the day, could also be early warning signs. Additional symptoms could be as follows:
- Feeling exhausted -- regardless of how much sleep you're getting
- Prolonged exposure to stressful situations -- the feeling of not being able to 'let go'
- Feeling emotionally numb and distant; feeling unable to engage in the ordinary things in life
- Recognising the quality or proficiency of your work slipping due to emotional distance and negative mood.
RAISE THE ALARM
If you relate to any of the symptoms above, it's important to get help from a medical professional. Speaking to your employer is also advisable. Burnout is a gradual process and although the symptoms are subtle at first, they can become worse as time goes on.
It is crucial to distinguish the difference between depression, anxiety, stress and burnout, because although there are many treatment options depending on your diagnosis, burnout is best tackled by making lifestyle changes.
If you do feel close to burnout, or are generally feeling completely overwhelmed and not sure what to do, please don't ignore the warning signs. Talk to someone -- it might not feel like it but with a bit of help, it's all going to be okay.
Hannah Meads is broker at Miller Insurance
People place their trust in us based on what we do and not what we say, so it is vital for us to have a high level of self-awareness about what shapes our behaviour if we are to increase trust in our profession. People place their trust in us based on what we do and not what we say, so it is vital for us to have a high level of self-awareness about what shapes our behaviour if we are to increase trust in our profession.
Traditionally, regulators have focussed on incentives like pay and bonuses, but more recently they have been also looking at less tangible influences like the purpose and culture of an organisation.
The Financial Conduct Authority has asked six professional bodies, including the CII, to investigate how different organisations articulate their purpose and how they go about achieving this, which we plan to publish in a discussion paper in March.
The working group that helped us develop our ideas for general insurance and protection came from a huge range of different organisations: large and small, brokers and underwriters, 'retail' and 'wholesale'. One element that came out consistently was the need to address the needs of the whole customer -- catering for the risks that they encounter in life and business, not just recommending and renewing products.
It was great to see how an abstract concept like culture can lead to practical solutions about serving customers. However, our chapter for the discussion paper is only the start of the conversation -- in the coming months, we want to give a platform for all your views about building trust in the profession.
Sian Fisher is CEO of the CII