Are You Suffering From Compassion Fatigue At Work?

What is compassion fatigue, and how do we know now is the right time to make a change? By Kirstie McDermott.

The last few years have been a lot. Rising inflation and consumer goods prices, a war in Ukraine, shockwaves rippling from hundreds of thousands of layoffs, all combined with fears of a recession have put people under severe pressure.

And of course, a global health crisis that saw many workers sent home to work remotely, or stood down from their jobs until lockdowns eased, represented a huge sea change for most employees.

For those who did their jobs remotely over the pandemic period, a number of issues reared their heads. Offsetting the benefits many experienced in terms of having extra free time, more spare cash and an ability to direct their own day, was the fact that remote work can be isolating and lonely.

Communication changed from in-person chats to online meetings, and the human connection workers experience when they are in the office was suddenly wiped out. That was particularly true for younger workers, who disproportionately suffered from professional penalties around lack of mentoring and feedback.

Burnout and stress

Leaders, too, were exhausted by the demands of managing a remote workforce. In March, the latest Transport Opinion Survey conducted by the University of Sydney reports that post-pandemic work habits have stabilised, and that the return to the office is unlikely to progress any further, with the average working Australian now spending 27% of their working hours at home.

The figures differ slightly by city: in Sydney, workers spend 31% of their work week at home, in Melbourne the figure is 35%, and in Brisbane it is 33%. The net result is that for employers, senior staff are spreading themselves thin across workers on site, fully remote or who work a hybrid schedule.

It isn’t surprising then, that Australian workers have reported the highest burnout rates in the world, with 61% saying they sometimes felt burned out, according to McKinsey. And adding to burnout is the fact that many workers are suffering from what’s known as “compassion fatigue”.

This is a term that we often hear in association with medical professionals, and it is used to describe the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of helping others through their experiences of stress or trauma. Post-pandemic, a lot of managers and workers across industries are also feeling this strain.

Emotionally exhausted from dealing with teams who themselves were working in challenging circumstances, for beauty professionals in particular, compassion fatigue is something to watch out for. It can lead to a decreased ability to empathise with co-workers or help clients effectively, both of which lead to reduced outcomes.

How to spot it

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, out of sorts, finding it hard to focus or snapping at your colleagues, with less patience than you normally would for solving issues and problems, you may be suffering from compassion fatigue.

Self-awareness around the problem is a key first step to addressing it, and there are other things you can do too. In the same way that airlines advise parents to put their oxygen mask on first before attending to others, the same rule applies here.

Take care of yourself, look at your sleep, exercise and eating and make sure that you are making full use of your holiday allowance. Aim to create boundaries around communication too: answering emails and calls out of hours eats into the time in which you should be decompressing and switching off from the day.

The solution

If all else fails, a new job could offer a solution. The Professional Beauty Job Board contains thousands of open roles, like the three below.

Blush Beauty & Skin Salons in Queensland is seeking highly motivated Beauty and Skin Therapists With exceptional customer care and experience in all areas including IPL, microdermabrasion, chemical peels and skin needling. You should have a Diploma of beauty therapy or higher, and at least four years’ prior experience in the industry.

At the Victorian Dermal Group, there is a current vacancy for a full-time Dermal Clinician at the company’s Kew location. One of Melbourne’s most progressive cosmetic practices, you will join an enthusiastic, progressive and highly trained professional team and will require three years’ experience as senior clinician to apply. Additionally, you’ll need a Bachelor of Health–Science in dermal therapies.

At Sephora, a training opportunity has arisen in Victoria. As the Field Training Executive you will drive education and training both in a classroom environment (physical and virtual) and via in store coaching and collaboration with district managers and store management Teams. Your responsibilities will include planning, coordinating, communicating, delivering, and assessing Sephora and brand classroom training along with in store coaching. You’ll need a Certificate IV Adult Training and Assessment, with retail, skin, colour or fragrance qualifications highly desirable.

Browse all available opportunities on the Professional Beauty Job Board.

This article was produced in partnership with Jobbio.

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