A recent nationwide study in The Netherlands shows that burnout and burnout symptoms are currently impacting approximately 1,3 million Dutch employees. Stress levels are significantly increasing. Higher targets, deadlines and the increasing efficiency and effectiveness demands resulted in over 11 million days of absence from work. Total costs 2,8 billion euros which is an increase of 300 million euro compared to the previous year according to TNO research.  And the numbers have been increasing for years with major social and business impact. Surveys also show that 17,3 % of the entire Dutch workforce has serious burnout complaints especially for young people between 25 and 34 years.

Overwhelmed employees in Professional Service Firms

At XtraAdvice we noticed that the burnout impact on professional services firms is even higher and there are several key reasons for this such as: an excessive workload, long hours, (very) high hourly rates, unrealistic expectations and targets, excessive time pressure, ruthless company politics, “up or out” career mentality, lack of autonomy, not enough honest feedback, role ambiguity…. and the list goes on. At a minimum the estimation is that for many professional services firms, the early signs of burnout, the actual burnout itself and then the subsequent recovery and reintegration process, impacts over 20% of the workforce. And all caring for people aside, this has a massive impact on companies that invoice hours times fees to make their numbers.

Just look for the signs around the office

Early signs that employees might be in the burn out danger zone are for example: looking tired and exhausted, over-easily offended, struggling to concentrate, losing and eye for detail  and being quickly annoyed.

Based on our profound knowledge of people matters, the brain and mind as well as many years in leadership roles at professional service firms, our partner team has developed a series of specific approaches that will help address the burn out risks. And for those who are looking for helpful, pragmatic tools (and aren’t we all?) the recently developed FitCoins approach is gaining a lot of attention, specifically from professional service firms.

Introducing FitCoins to Professional Service firms

FitCoins www.itsmylife24.nl combines healthy living (getting more active, get moving, exercise and experiencing, less sitting down) with earning healthy rewards that can range from free healthy groceries to free counseling, tickets to sports events, therapy or for example training. This way the platform supports development of “smart, healthy local communities” and helps people to take ownership of their own physical and mental health.

The FitCoin Health Communities originated as a response to the dissatisfaction with many of the existing approaches to deal with preventive healthcare. The creators of the FitCoin concept, who all have a long track record in sports and wellbeing, noticed in their daily practices that the traditional “intervention approach” was primarily reaching an already relatively fit part of the community and hardly resulted in sustainable changes into healthier behavior. So how could the inactive part of the population best be reached, and how could the results become more sustainable? This question marked the start of developing the FitCoin platform based on the latest insights from behavioral psychology combined with a large diversity of user experiences. Currently the FitCoin platform and solution, that was developed with (and is used by) SAP, has been implemented at over 50 companies and locations throughout the Netherlands. This includes professional service firms and multinationals such as IBM and BP but also midsize companies as well as Dutch residential area’s in for example The Haque and Eindhoven.

In our opinion dealing with the burnout risks in professional service firms all starts with a genuine interest in people, setting solid but very realistic goals and above all continuous, dedicated attention for balanced physical and mental health of your workforce. In partnership with FitCoin we will be working with more of our XtraAdvice clients and our XtraFit program to make this happen!