Writing ahead of the General Election, there’s a consensus in recruitment that whoever our government is, they must improve their strategy to support the labour market.

From bridging the skills gap to changing employment law and immigration policy to positively shape the talent pool, creating a correctly skilled workforce is essential to kick-start economic growth and productivity.

That is why I’ve been looking into the two main party’s policies, to see what the future holds…


Promising ‘no surprises’, largely because every announcement was shared before the launch of their manifesto, Labour plans to introduce a new ‘Industrial Strategy’ that works in partnership with commerce.

Focusing on growth, there is an emphasis on flexible training, a plan to modernise employment law, bring more clarity to workers’ rights, and support compliance with flexible employment practices.

Establishing a new body called ‘Skills England’, they aim to bring businesses together with training providers, unions, the migration advisory committee, and the government in the hope of ensuring training in England meets the overall needs of the labour market.

With a pledge not to increase National Insurance, the basic, higher, or additional rates of Income Tax, VAT, and cap Corporation Tax at 25%, they promise a ‘balanced approach’ to immigration that will address skills shortages in healthcare and public services.


Declaring to ‘guarantee a more secure future for you, your family, and our country’, the Conservative party promises to steer us towards prosperity and social unity through a ‘modernised tax system for business’.

Including a 2p cut to National Insurance, the abolition of the main rate for the self-employed, and maintaining the National Living Wage at two-thirds of median earnings, they hope to help businesses and support workers.

With a focus on small companies, which make up 99% of the UK private sector, they plan to retain tax incentives that encourage growth, including EIS, SEIS, Venture Capital Trusts, Business Asset Disposal Relief, Agricultural Property Relief, and Business Relief.

Promising reform to better target disability benefits, the introduction of a legal cap on migration to protect public services whilst bringing in the skills business and the NHS need, they also plan to fund 100,000 new apprenticeships for young people and give working parents 30 hours of free childcare a week.

While there is plenty to ponder, the need for an overarching strategy that seeks to understand and consider the skill needs of our workforce does not appear. I believe we need a skills policy that is suited to the needs of our economy, but it must go beyond skills. Investment and infrastructure matter if we want to build an economy that can grow at speed.

Currently, the number of overall job vacancies in the UK remains ahead of pre-pandemic levels and people are confident about being able to recruit. One of the biggest challenges I see each day is that pay growth continues to rise due to talent being in short supply.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that labour and skills shortages cost the economy £39bn annually. The next government needs to act quickly to ensure more people have access to the right training and skills for the market.

The first step is to understand what people want. If the government is to be successful, it must embrace this idea and recognise that there are many types of work, and all are equally valuable.

Improving transport links, enhancing childcare support, better education, addressing immigration issues in key sectors, and reviewing tax and regulation issues are also going to be crucial to building a vibrant and successful economy.

On the 1st of April, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increased, and there are strong rumours that the North East will become the next regional enforcement target for HMRC.

Extended to domestic live-in workers and with employees aged 21 now being entitled to the National Living Wage (previously 23), it means the minimum pay workers must receive depends, predominantly, upon their age:

21 Years +18-20 yearsUnder 18Apprentice

As a sign of intent, the government recently named and shamed over 500 businesses for failing to pay the NMS. Highlighting major high-street brands, it was a message that nobody is exempt. It doesn’t matter about your size or whether a role is part-time, casual, agency, or trainee. By law, everyone must be paid the NMS for their time.

With beefed-up penalties as part of the crackdown, miscalculating employers face the prospect of a £20,000 fine, a financial penalty worth 200% of any underpayment, and being made to repay arrears dating back six years.

While their policy suggests the emphasis is cooperation and compliance, under the National Minimum Wage Act, criminal sanctions can be reserved for the small minority that are persistently non-compliant and refuse to cooperate.

Regional Wage Enforcement

In place from 2022, if HMRC intends to target the North East it is due to central data that suggests workers are likely to be paid below NMW or intelligence gathered, which can include complaints made by workers.

When pursuing a new area, typically HMRC floods the region to gather intelligence and identify businesses that require a ‘nudge’.

The first sign of being under review is to receive a letter asking you to check your compliance. With no actions or dates, it can easily be missed. If so, it will be followed by an offer to perform a free ‘health check’ of your NMW compliance. Failure to take up the offer will lead to a formal enquiry.

What do you need to do?

Broadly speaking, as an employer, you should try to undertake the following:

  • Create a risk register of what is in place and identify the areas where further investigation is required.
  • Conduct a review to assess the state of your NMW compliance.
  • Sample-check payment records to see if there are any periods where you could be at risk of underpayments.
  • Based on the data, build an action plan and a more robust and controlled environment (policies and working records) moving forward.
  • If you have discovered an error and underpaid a worker in the past six years, recalculate their pay and pay the shortfall. The most important thing is to ensure steps are taken to rectify any issues immediately.

Coinciding with the NMW increase, on April 7th, there was also a rise in the range of statutory payments.

It would pay to re-look at your family-friendly statutory payments, including Maternity & Paternity Pay, Adoption Pay, Shared Parental Pay, Parental Bereavement Pay, and Sick Pay.

Changes to the NMW and statutory payments usually come into force each April, so keeping a legal checklist that you review annually will ensure you stay on top of obligations and don’t get caught out.

If targeted, remember that the HMRC’s initial calculations may apply incorrect assumptions without access to all your information. I suggest seeking professional advice throughout the process to ensure you are not unfairly reprimanded and your reputation as an employer is not unnecessarily put at risk.

By taking these simple proactive steps, you can avoid the risk of legal penalties, protect your reputation, and ensure fair treatment of your employees.

Perhaps not the most dynamic topic at first glance but pre-employment checks are a critical part of your talent attraction strategy.

As the final layer of protection for a candidate’s suitability, navigating the regulations can feel like running blindfolded through a maze, which is why I am going to try and demystify them and transform the final stage of your recruitment process into a seamless and well-planned affair.

The Role of Pre-Employment Checks

Imagine someone applying to join your team with the ideal experience and a glowing CV. They appear perfect for the role yet, under the surface, they hide a history that brings risk to your company’s future integrity.

This is where pre-employment checks shine. Giving you a comprehensive overview of a candidate’s background, credentials, and character, they help you verify their employment history all the way through to criminal record checks.

By using the right checks, you can mitigate risks, uphold legal compliance, and foster a safe, productive work environment for your current team because you know your recruits will contribute positively to your working culture.

Your Legal Obligations

Complying with legal requirements is essential in any area of business, including recruitment and employment. Failing to undertake the appropriate checks can not only tarnish your long-term reputation but could also result in severe legal consequences.

Whether it is right-to-work assessments, medical reviews, employment references, online social media or criminal record checks, each piece of due diligence is designed to protect both employers and employees and ensure fairness, transparency, and compliance at every step.

Types of Pre-Employment Checks

Pre-employment screening is not a one-size-fits-all affair. It will differ between organisations and the nature of the role so you should tailor the checks undertaken to fit your needs. From examining identification documents to delving into online profiles, each plays a distinct role in the vetting process, helping you to build a more informed picture of the person you are looking to recruit.

Whether it’s verifying right-to-work status to prevent illegal working, or conducting CRB checks to safeguard vulnerable people, each stage helps you to reduce the potential risk of recruiting unsuitable people to your firm.

Conducting Pre-employment Checks

Most commonly carried out after a job offer has been made, there are several steps to ensure you are compliant, beginning with a request for the applicant’s consent. If they refuse, you are not legally allowed to conduct any searches or checks and must decide on the best route forward without the benefit of this information.

Assuming the candidate does approve, you need to gather and verify the relevant documentation to start the screening process. Typically, this includes photo identification, passport, work permit, educational or existing DBS certificates, and criminal record disclosures.

While a manual process can be relatively time-consuming, some tools and technologies can help. Checks can even be carried out on government websites, where you can view someone’s right to work or see a copy of their driving license.

Maintaining detailed records of completed checks is essential for compliance with laws governing data protection, equal opportunities, employment, and privacy. Not only does this safeguard you and your business in the case of disputes, but it also helps to standardise your approach and ensure fairness throughout the process.

Final Thought

Pre-employment checks are not just about ticking boxes; they are about embracing a mindset of excellence and long-term recruitment success.

Once the processes are in place, candidate screening will quickly become second nature, but please remember the golden rule of clarifying that any job offer is conditional on the results of your pre-employment checks.

Legally, your employees’ contract begins when they accept your job offer so if you decide to withdraw it at a later stage, without reasonable grounds, it could be seen as a breach. By reserving the right to withdraw your offer, if your checks reveal any issues or concerns, you will protect yourself and the business.

In the ever-evolving world of recruitment, the landscape for job interviews has shifted dramatically. Gone are the days of recruitment being solely through in-person meetings. Now, most interview processes begin behind a computer screen, adding a new layer of complexity.

Whether you’re an experienced practitioner or re-entering the job market after a long hiatus, navigating the change requires a focused approach where you get out what you put in.


Preparation has always been key, but even more so in the digital age. Take the time to plan every aspect of your interview. From testing software and knowing when and where you need to be to investigating potential road closures and parking options. Establish who you’ll be meeting and what’s expected of you ahead of time, leaving no room for last-minute uncertainty to hamper your first impression and performance.


Your appearance speaks volumes so make sure you dress in an outfit that both exudes confidence and is also appropriate to the setting. Whether it is formal attire or more relaxed, choose wisely to make a strong first impression.


Beyond landing the job, it is important to define what you hope to achieve from your interview. I am not talking about salary and benefits here; moreover, it’s about filling in the gaps in your knowledge of the business. Prepare insightful questions. It not only demonstrates a genuine interest in the company and role but it will help you to decide if this is the right place for you.


Take advantage of the online resources at your disposal, such as the company website careers page and social media channels. There is no longer an excuse for not understanding an organisation’s culture, values, and goals before you attend an interview. And once you do, it will be a lot easier to demonstrate how you are the ideal candidate for their team.


If you have the support of a recruitment consultant, use their expertise to your advantage. Ask for a pre-interview discussion. Lean on their experience so you can gain valuable insights and tips to enhance your preparation and improve your performance on the day.


Remember that likability and trust play a significant role in the outcome of an interview. Focus on building rapport with your interviewers on a personal level to make a positive impression. Take the time to research the people you’ll be meeting. Familiarise yourself with their backgrounds and roles so you can establish an early connection. Setting a positive tone from the start helps the conversation flow and showcases your interpersonal skills.


There is nothing worse than interviewing someone who is not fluent in the professional journey within their CV. Learn it inside and out. Craft compelling stories to highlight your achievements and experiences. Use the chance to talk about your journey as a platform to introduce your character and emphasise your biggest strengths and capabilities.


Take the time to anticipate and prepare for people who challenge your career and choices. By responding honestly and confidently to difficult and direct questions, you demonstrate self-awareness, inner belief, and a positive and mature approach – all traits people want to see in their employees.


Practice answering competency-based questions using the STAR method: situation, task, action, result. Pre-plan four or five examples that illustrate the key skills they are looking for and will prove you can thrive in the role.

In conclusion, succeeding in a job interview requires more than just technical expertise. It demands preparation, planning, effective communication, and a proactive approach. By applying these tips, you will help to position yourself as a prime candidate and almost certainly increase your chances of being offered that new job opportunity you are dreaming about.

Am I paying my staff enough? What is the appropriate inflationary rise? How do we compare with our competitors? These are just some of the questions I am regularly asked as the accounting profession moves from the hectic tax season to the world of annual reviews.

It would be easier if I could give an exact answer, but there are many variables to consider. So, while we prepare our Annual Salary Review, we wanted to share an insight into trends from the past 12 months that will help you remain competitive in the market and supportive of your team.


Despite a slowdown in inflation, the cost of living is still driving people to search for new roles that increase their income. Of course, many more factors influence job seekers, but salary is an important part of the jigsaw and as a good employer, you must get the balance right.

With a high demand for good people, there remains an easy temptation to switch for more. It wouldn’t be the primary motivation for my career choices, but pound signs have definitely been driving a desire for change.

Interestingly, the gender pay gap is still prevalent in accountancy. According to the ONS, the median hourly full-time pay gap increased to 7.7% in 2023, so there is still a lot of work to be done. To ensure you support your female staff, I encourage you to remember this at review time.

Employers continue to find staff training a challenge when people work from home. You simply don’t learn as much remotely, and we have found that some employers’ expectations for delivery have fallen short of what they are paying.

Candidates have also found challenges when switching jobs linked to home working. When required to be in the office full-time during their probation and to work in a hybrid way thereafter, it doesn’t always fit with the lifestyle they have established. Adjusting their routine for 3-6 months can be a barrier to accepting a new role.

The Big 4 and national firms have a clear advantage as they can offer more flexibility. Not as reliant upon staff being in the office, they offer a range of working patterns, something much harder to achieve for smaller firms.

Having said that, there has been an upturn in the level of interest in smaller firms due to the attraction of working a more 9 to 5 role and less pressure than the demands of the Big 4.


In 2024, the accountancy sector will continue to face candidate shortages. Coupled with a scarcity of new skills that are changing the way the sector operates – data analysis, technology integration, and AI – we expect salaries to continue an upward trajectory.

With bonuses introduced more widely to combat this, the biggest attraction for our candidates is the balance between salary and flexible work patterns, with firms offering consolidated hours or a 4-day working week having the upper hand.

We expect to see this level out in 2025 as what people want is to be able to live in the same way as they have been doing. With 60% of monthly salaries spent on essential purchases and 1 in 5 unable to save each month, most monetary requests are linked to being able to live comfortably rather than greed.

Undoubtedly, the best investment any business can make is in its people, but it needs to be the right people. Whatever you choose to do with your annual reviews, I urge you to also place a renewed focus on your recruitment process.

If you can get this right, you will see improved productivity, a better culture, and increasing levels of client and customer service, which all go to directly improve the bottom line and keep your team happy.

Do you fear change? I sometimes do. I think we all do, to some extent, because it usually means the outcome is unknown.

In truth, our brains are hard-wired to search for comfort in understanding. When we don’t know what will happen, we begin to make up scenarios, and that leads to worry.

One of the many things recruitment has taught me is that people also find it hard to move on when something familiar comes to an end. Fear of failure comes into play. If we don’t know how something will turn out, we’d rather not try because it could be risky or end badly.

When it comes to your career, it usually boils down to one of three things: the people, the role, or the environment. The good news is that these areas should all be able to be improved by talking openly with your employer.

Having said that, I suggest that you do not leave things too late. Don’t wait until things are dire before acting. By putting yourself in a position where you want out of a job as quickly as possible, you open the door to making decisions that lack the insight and information you need to make the best choice.

Then, when it doesn’t go well, there is a strong chance you will reinforce the idea that change is not good, rather than recognising it was needed earlier so your decision can be reached in a calm, knowledge-led, and balanced way.

I see this happen a lot. Where people know, deep down, that they want to move but keep telling themselves they are being too fussy, too demanding, or will just stick it out for another six months and wait for that pay rise, bonus, or promotion.

Whatever the reason, we all know that more often than not, if you do not make the change, then nothing will change at all. So, how do you know when it is time to find a new job? There are a lot of things that can trigger the search.

It could be more bad days than good. Uncontrollable or overwhelming stress levels. A lack of energy and motivation. Persistent frustration and issues you can’t seem to shake. Being unhappy in, and subsequently out of, work. These are all signs that it is time to reassess your situation and start being honest with yourself.

Right now, a lack of career opportunities and salary progression is prevalent. With promises being broken or put on hold and work-life balance suffering as a result.

While no job is completely perfect, it’s important to keep your bigger picture at the forefront of decision-making. Consider the experience you’re gaining, the networks you’re exposed to, and the kudos you get from working where you do. This will help you understand what to do next.

What you need to remember is that you are not alone. We all experience a degree of apprehension when it comes to change. That’s why comfort zones exist.

Changing your job is a big decision, but being uncomfortable with uncertainty is not a good enough excuse to avoid it. If you think it might be time to move on, my advice is to explore it. Reach out and explore what’s out there. Do some research. Speak to someone you trust. The more you know, the less scary it will become.

Of course, the grass is not always greener, but your time is very precious, and if you’re not happy, you need to make a change of some kind. Whatever you decide to do, be confident, and don’t be put off by fear, because the rewards when you find a job you love will be life-changing.

Another year has passed at lightning speed. Older? Definitely. Wiser? I hope so. It’s certainly been another unpredictable and challenging year in recruitment, but as it draws to a close, I have been reflecting on what I have learned and what the next twelve months could hold in the world of accountancy and finance.

Skills Shortages

There is no end in sight for the skills shortages that are driving an increase in outsourcing services overseas. Firms are also expanding their advisory offerings to provide businesses with greater management information, so they become much more than the traditional once-a-year annual audit and accounts service. Both areas of growth will heighten pressure to attract and retain talent and it could be a challenging time for businesses trying to keep salary demands under control.

Employee Wellbeing 

Businesses that embrace people’s desire for a better work-life balance will fare well. According to ACCA, 83% of accountants would like to work remotely at least one day per week. In a candidate-driven market, embracing hybrid working and demonstrating that you can deliver on personal development plans will appeal to a wider talent pool.

Advancing Technology

Continuing to shape the future, technology already plays a big role in the accounting sector. Moving at a relentless pace, according to the ACCA, 63% of us would like more technology training. To stay relevant, businesses need to adopt a culture of technological innovation, which includes upskilling and valuing those skills in the recruitment process.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Employers will continue to place a greater emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in their recruitment strategies. With the benefits well documented, it is important to recognise the need for this in the accounting and finance sectors. A survey by Skills, Retention, and Attraction confirmed that 57% of UK businesses regard this as a strategic priority as it opens a wider candidate market and draws talent from all backgrounds.

Training and Skills

The ongoing impact of the pandemic and the training and skills gaps created means that while some professional roles will continue to call for college degrees, recruiters will be casting their net wider. Larger employers already target candidates in education, with entry-level recruits requiring lower salaries. Increasingly, it’s your talent rather than the pedigree of your institution or past employer that counts.

Relocate or Resign

For those not keen on hybrid working, 2024 will see a resurgence in the expectation that people head back into the office four or five days a week, meaning there are tough choices ahead. In the accounting profession, as a result, we expect to see more people choosing to move or simply resigning to find something closer to home that offers the flexibility they seek.

Generation Z

Set to become a significant part of the workforce, successful recruiters need to adapt to the distinct values, traits, and preferences of this generation. To attract and retain Gen-Z talent, companies need to leverage digital recruitment platforms, bring a focus to their social responsibility efforts, offer clear pathways for career progress and skill development, and provide a flexible working environment.

While I don’t profess to see the future clearly, I believe it will be bright for those who leverage technology, nurture inclusivity, and meet the needs and expectations of candidates and employees.

Embracing a better work-life balance and remote work preferences will widen your talent pool. Technological innovation remains key, with a strong call for more training in advancing technologies.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are rightly gaining prominence in recruitment strategies, and, with the evolving landscape moving toward valuing talent over institutional pedigree, Generation Z could be ready to take centre stage.

Despite the skills shortages driving outsourcing and the pressure to balance well-being with business demands, I remain optimistic in my outlook for 2024 as, however we see it, the journey will continue to be marked by challenges and buoyed by the resilience and adaptability of the accounting and finance industry.

Influenced by economic uncertainty and rising costs, the latest UK Report on Jobs, commissioned by the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) and KMPG, suggests a worrying time ahead for the region’s job market.

Perhaps most ominous, the report highlights a fall in overall demand for new starters for the first time since February 2021. While the contraction is marginal, underlying data reveals a fresh but slight reduction in permanent vacancies, with demand for temporary staff moderated to a four-month low.

It appears to be the public sector that is taking the biggest hit, declining at a far steeper rate than individual or shareholder-owned businesses. In the private sector, a modest number of the 400 recruitment professionals feeding into the survey reported an uptick in clients exploring temporary staffing solutions as an alternative. Rising at a gentle pace, the figures also suggest that permanent vacancies are increasing in five of the ten employment categories, which suggests all is not lost. However, with businesses undoubtedly nervous, the result is a labour market that appears to be in a precarious position once again.

From a recruiter’s viewpoint, while we are seeing companies show a willingness to become more adaptable in their hiring strategy, there has not been a significant shift in the landscape toward temporary placements in the North East and so it will be fascinating to see if this trend continues.

Diving deeper into the report it is not all doom and gloom. There are some green shoots evident for employers who will be pleased to discover the pressure that has been building to offer inflated starting salaries is beginning to ease thanks to gradually rising candidate availability.

Regional and sector variations play a pivotal role in understanding the nuances, but anecdotal evidence from our region suggests that redundancies, increasing unemployment, and slowing market conditions are significant contributors.

In its summary, the REC reasoned that the market is finding the bottom of a year-long slowdown. The relative buoyancy of the private sector is likely to be driving this more positive outlook and while vacancies are reducing they remain robust for many industries with some sectors – hospitality, engineering, logistics and healthcare – continuing to experience very strong and growing demand.

What is clear is that depending on where you stand, the recruitment landscape is a mixed bag of challenges and opportunities. Reinforced by ONS data, there is little doubt that companies are becoming slightly more hesitant to commit to new recruitment in a bid to limit uncertainty and control costs. Whether you view this as a temporary disruption or think it will lead to permanent change, there is certainly a need to face the challenges head-on.

As always, internally, a focus on the development of skills and staff retention is prudent. In the interim, slower wage growth should also ease pressure on employers as it is likely to lead to a reduction in the rise of inflation rates.

For anyone looking to navigate the job market as an employer or job seeker, my advice is to make sure you are partnered with an expert in your field. Someone who can guide you safely through the ambiguity.

Regardless of the conditions, to be successful, you need to demonstrate what it is that makes you stand out from the crowd and, as an experienced recruitment consultancy, we can offer you support and expertise to help you find the best path forward.

When it comes to career development, the first thing that springs to mind is the pursuit of promotion and progression. We’re immersed in a culture fueled by the desire to advance, elevate our status, and take on more responsibility. Yet, establishing a successful career is only one chapter in our work story.

Recent research has revealed that most people – including those with the most enviable careers – find themselves unhappy at work in their mid-40s. This mid-career crisis occurs when we start to sense a disconnection and misalignment with our chosen path.

Reflected in dwindling enthusiasm or an unsettling inability to focus with the same vigour as before, one common cause is spending too much of your time putting out fires and avoiding bad outcomes, rather than pursuing projects with positive and invigorating value.

Naturally, when people are disenchanted, they begin to question their choices. A loss of passion and purpose drains their energy, giving way to introspection, apathy, and a growing curiosity about what might be.

Unhappy, they face the dilemma of ‘cope or quit’, but the most pivotal step is recognising these signs. A mid-career crisis may feel like you are beyond the point of return, but it is a chapter you can rewrite. It is possible to rediscover your sense of fulfilment and purpose.

Make Time to Feel Good

A negative workplace can harm your mental health. My advice is to create room for other pleasures in your life, for example, reviving an old hobby or taking up a new one. If you love travelling, take a short break and come back refreshed. If you dream of playing the guitar, while it may not seem as important as your job, it can help you to relax, feel a sense of accomplishment, and discover new ways to be happy.

Don’t Forget to Talk

A problem is better shared so talk to those you trust and seek guidance where you can. Having a mentor who has been through it before can help you navigate your way forward. If you feel comfortable, you can also approach your management or HR to share your concerns or express your enthusiasm to work on new projects or teams. Whoever you choose, use their guidance to help you make a concrete plan of action. Setting yourself new goals will also help, but if you feel like making a career change is your only choice, don’t be scared to leap.

Identify the Root Cause

Understanding what is at the crux of your crisis will guide your steps. With this clarity, you can chart a course to overcome the problems. Consider the following areas and how they make you feel:

Your position: Have you outgrown it? How do you feel about your daily tasks? How much responsibility and authority do you have? Is it time to assess whether you need a more challenging environment?

Your colleagues: Sometimes, it’s not the work. Do strained relationships or personality clashes create any problems? If so, it may be time to consider new companions for the next leg of your journey; ones who resonate with your values and aspirations.

The industry: The seemingly relentless churn of the same industry over many years can lead to disenchantment. If your skills are adaptable, consider exploring a new industry that excites you and holds more profound meaning.

The company: Has the passion for your company faded? When you feel the alignment has gone, it may be time to seek a new North Star; one where your passions and principles are met.

An unspoken reality for many people, a mid-career crisis can be hard to identify. The important thing is to keep a balanced perspective and not forget that missing out in some way is unavoidable in life. If you work through these strategies and they are not enough to reunite you with your career, then it may be time to make a change, as midlife is not too late.

If you aren’t aware, burnout in the workplace is a condition that the World Health Organisation (WHO) lay to blame resolutely at the feet of the employer.

Officially characterising it as “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”, typically, burnout occurs when someone’s physical or emotional reserves are spent. Often, the result of continued stress and dissatisfaction, burnout happens when the negative effects of pressure are amplified by a lack of support and resources, strict deadlines, and long hours.

Compounded by people’s unreasonable expectations of themselves or their personal lives, employee burnout can manifest in the workplace in many ways, from increased frustration and indifference to anger, withdrawal, reduced effectiveness, and even absenteeism.

While WHO see burnout as the consequence of mismanagement, in truth, outside factors like money worries, relationship issues and challenges in people’s home life can also play a significant role in what is a serious issue for both individual employees and the wider working environment.

Encouraging an open and supportive culture is vital, along with having a mental health policy in place but recognising the early signs and taking the appropriate action is the best way to prevent burnout.


Exhaustion – both physical and emotional, persistent fatigue and a lack of being able to concentrate after a good night’s sleep or time off are signs to keep an eye on.

Productivity Drops – a noticeable decline in motivation and performance, struggling to meet deadlines or making mistakes they wouldn’t normally make are red flags.

Detachment – people experiencing burnout might become increasingly cynical and detached from their work, colleagues, and the business as a whole.

Irritability – employees may become short-tempered, react strongly to minor stressors, and have difficulty maintaining composure in challenging situations.

Physical Symptoms – from headaches to stomach aches, a lack of sleep, and even susceptibility to illnesses can be indicative of burnout as chronic stress weakens the immune system.

Neglected Self-Care – employees might prioritise work over personal well-being, leading to the neglection of exercise, healthy eating, and spending time with loved ones.

Absenteeism – be attentive to people with more frequent sick days, personal days, or unexplained absences. Employees might feel the need to take time off to cope with their stress and exhaustion.

Being permanently “on” – with technology, people who find it increasingly difficult to disconnect from work and relax in their own time are worthy of observation.

If you notice any of these signs in your colleagues – or yourself – it’s essential to address them quickly. Having regular conversations about mental health and highlighting the support available is a good start.

Try to remember that this can be a hard topic for people to open up about. Removing the stigma and providing access to counselling can help employees to better understand and manage their condition. The NHS offers a free counselling service, as do several charities, including Mind, the mental health charity.

Burnout is a condition that is triggered by an individual’s work but it is their relationship with their work that leads to the illness. Understanding this is perhaps the most important piece of information I can share with you because your interventions should always focus on improving the relationship between an individual and their work.

Coupled with WHO’s definition, hopefully, we can identify and validate people’s symptoms as well as make sure the modern workplace can help them to make changes that will prevent burnout in the first place.