Is burnout a work-related syndrome or not? There is not yet unanimity among researchers on that issue. However, research clearly shows that burnout interventions that focus purely on the individual have little significant effect.

The federal government allocating budget for stepping up the fight against burnout is a good thing. But these resources need to be channelled effectively. In any case, more needs to be done than simply teaching employees to 'deal with tensions at work in an appropriate manner'.

Importance of work context

As such, the guidance currently being put forward seems to focus mainly on employees and leaves employers out of the picture. This is a major shortcoming: in order for burnout prevention to be successful, the work context must be taken into account. If not, employees who start showing symptoms of burnout will change jobs because they don't want to go back to the same context. That may be a solution for the employee in question, but it is not a sustainable approach to the problem.

In the fight against burnout, employees and employers (in practice, often the manager) need to be able to talk about what needs to be done differently at work. What are the employee's needs? What is possible? This is not obvious and potentially puts managers in a difficult position. They often have neither the time nor the knowledge or skills to have this essential conversation.

Deploy mediators preventively

This need not be an insurmountable problem: there are already reintegration facilitators currently active, such as the ReSet Facilitator, who can play a facilitating role here with expertise. At the moment, these neutral mediators act only reactively. They facilitate the return to work. And they know all too well that they should get the manager involved in this process.

However, these reintegration counsellors can also play an important role in terms of prevention. They can help create an open and safe context in which the employee and the manager can discuss the work context together to identify opportunities for adjustments. Unfortunately, this isn’t currently done enough.

The extra millions put on the table by the government could be very useful to further protect welfare in the workplace, provided that both employee and employer/manager get the right support and guidance.