Senior business leaders at risk of lockdown burnout – research shows



The impact of lockdown has had a seriously damaging effect on senior business leaders, new research has shown.

A new study conducted by executive education specialists School for CEOs, along with the Heriot Watt Watt University Department of Psychology details the dangers.

The findings showed that 42% of senior leaders were at high risk of burnout during lockdown, despite being psychologically resilient individuals.

CEOs displayed fewer signs of burnout and emotional exhaustion during the lockdown crisis and were more positive than their executive colleagues.

The study also looked at the effect of lockdown on men and women, discovering that women were at higher risk of burnout than their male counterparts (47% compared to 40%).

Women also expressed more negative emotions than men during the height of the crisis.

Women also took on greater responsibility for home schooling with 25% of female leaders taking full responsibility for the educational demands of their children compared to only 3% of male leaders.

The research also discovered that 61% of younger leaders (aged 24-39) were at higher risk of burnout compared to more mature leaders (aged over 50).

Gemma Sole, director at the School for CEOs and Dr Mioara Cristea, of Heriot Watt University, received responses from more than 700 CEOs and senior executives from more than 50 different organisations as part of their study.

Respondents were invited to answer a short survey that explored leaders’ emotions, their psychological resilience, risk of burnout and leadership style during lockdown.

It also explored their living and employment situations during the period along with strategies they used to deal with the challenges they encountered.

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Gemma Sole said: “This was an important piece of work from our perspective – we support senior leaders across a wide range of organisations and many had commented about the impact on their mental health.

“Given that we may well be heading for another period of lockdown, having an awareness of the risks associated with this is critical”.

Dr Cristea added: “While working from home during the lockdown may have had its advantages, our results pinpoint the numerous challenges that come with having to balance caring responsibilities.

“If working from home is to become an efficient option in the near future, organisations will need to create safe environments where employees can freely communicate their difficulties, as well as support them in developing their personal resilience”.

“Mental health has risen up the agenda for many organisations and rightly so in the current environment” said David Sole OBE, managing partner at the School for CEOs.

“Dealing with these new pressures therefore requires great resilience and resourcefulness.

Helping leaders identify, and most importantly cope with, stress of this nature is central to some of the work that we are involved in”.



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