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New research reveals the need for business leaders to set wellbeing goals

A new study has revealed that business leaders across the UK are at risk of burnout and putting their employees at risk by failing to set wellbeing goals alongside their other business goals.

Researchers from King’s College London conducted the study in collaboration with burnout prevention organisation Softer Success® to identify the unique wellbeing challenges being faced by business leaders in the UK, and to identify factors that may help avoid high work demands leading to burnout.

The study highlights four key findings:

Tight link between wellbeing and business effectiveness

The strongest link is business performance in relation to wellbeing; the good days for the business felt great, while the bad days for the business could spark a chain of negative thoughts and neglected selfcare leading to poor wellbeing. Extended periods of uncertain or poor business outcomes could lead people into negative spirals.

Compulsion towards work

Many interviewees were passionate about their work, for a number of different reasons, but for some this crossed over into compulsion, which is neither beneficial for their business or their wellbeing. Compulsive behaviours included checking emails very early or very late in the day without intending to, being unable to stop working or ‘switch off’ from work when you should, and the failure to say ‘no’ or delegate tasks that fall far from people’s remit.

Wellbeing as a business goal

Many of the wellbeing success stories that were heard involved either the explicit or implicit adoption of wellbeing goals as goals for the business. These goals could relate to healthy eating, exercise, IT use and boundary management, amongst other things, but they were definable and actionable. The more explicit these goals were, the better. There was also a subset of individuals who described that the wellbeing goals had moved from being explicit to implicit and as such had become automatic habits and integrated in their lifestyle – in other words, they didn’t need to think consciously about them.

Support and networks

A large majority of interviewees, especially those who were younger or less experienced, talked about the crucial role that shared experiences had. The role of both peers and mentors was discussed as being significant, particularly in unravelling the taboo of wellbeing amongst this population. A couple of pertinent barriers to wellbeing disclosures were identified amongst this group. First, that others (namely friends and family in whom they might usually confide) would not understand their issues. Second, the concern of how much to disclose, since investors may be observing and they are investing in the person, as much as the venture.

Findings from the study showcase the need for wellbeing to be a clearly defined, explicit business goal rather than an optional benefit, as well as greater need for support for founders.

Cara De Lange, the Founder & CEO of Softer Success® comments:

“This study highlights that entrepreneurs, CEOs and founders will often see the prioritisation of wellbeing as a ‘nice to have’ rather than essential to the success of their business and self-preservation. We need to ensure that wellbeing becomes part of our job descriptions and contracts.

“Our well-being assessment tool helps organisations to measure their employees’ stress and assess the risk of burnout in 90 seconds. The evidence based and scientifically backed psychometric test helps to rewire neural pathways to dissolve the risk of burnout.”

Professor Michael Clinton, Professor of Work Psychology at King’s College London, added:

“Well-being is a crucial resource for work and business. It’s therefore important that business leaders think more strategically and scientifically measure well-being and the risk of burnout amongst their employees.”

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About Cara De Lange Cara de Lange is an international burnout expert, speaker and Founder & CEO of Softer Success®, empowering the world’s leading organisations and their employees to proactively prevent burnout. Her book, Softer Success: Prevent Burnout, Find Balance and Re-Define Your Success, was published in 2019. With over 20 years’ experience in fast-paced multi-national companies such as Google, Reckitt Benckiser, Saatchi & Saatchi, and having experienced burnout herself, Cara is passionate about helping people look after their wellbeing and live a more balanced and joyful life. She has a strong focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals combining good health & wellbeing for sustainable productivity. Cara is a sought-after keynote speaker on the subject of burnout and is regularly invited to speak at organisations such as Google, Box and the United Nations. Cara is an associate of and works closely with the International Stress Management Association (ISMA). She is also a member of the organising committee for International Stress Awareness Week. About Softer Success® Softer Success® is dedicated to improving employee wellbeing and preventing burnout by providing evidence-backed burnout solutions for organisations. Leading in science, Softer Success® works with the world’s top universities, researchers and psychologists to understand the causes of burnout in a hybrid work environment. Their ground-breaking 90 second anonymous burnout risk assessment ‘A Walk Through the Forest’ quickly diagnoses the risk of burnout and toxicity in organisations. The core ethos of the Softer Success® is to end the global burnout pandemic by offering companies solutions, workshops, talks and training courses which equip their executives with the skill set to thrive in their working lives. The programme ‘Prevent Burnout Find Balance’ enables corporations to stress-proof employees and teams and to help them take care of their emotional and physical wellbeing. Softer Success® works on the ethos that knowledge is power. The more people that understand about burnout, the better equipped they will be to prevent it. Softer Success® delivers workshops that help employees connect better with their colleagues, understand what burnout is, what the warning signs are and a powerful 3-step strategy to prevent it.

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