Are you burnt out? You are not alone. It’s 1 of 5 top global business risks

The latest International SOS Risk Outlook Report 2024, released this week, looking at the five top risks for next year, found 80% of surveyed global senior risk professionals predicted burn-out will have a significant impact on businesses in the next year.

The latest International SOS Risk Outlook Report 2024, released this week, looking at the five top risks for next year, found 80% of surveyed global senior risk professionals predicted burn-out will have a significant impact on businesses in the next year.

Published Dec 10, 2023


Are you worried that you are on the brink of burn-out amid the mad rush up to the end of the year while wearing your corporate hat? Don’t worry, you are not alone.

The latest International SOS Risk Outlook Report 2024, released this week, looking at the five top risks for next year, found 80% of surveyed global senior risk professionals predicted burn-out will have a significant impact on businesses in the next year. But only 41% of them feel that their organisations are equipped to deal with it.

Sally Llewellyn, global security director, International SOS, said: “Organisations will have many risks to address in 2024, as instability continues to be a key theme of the global security environment. The near-continuous pace of crises makes it even more challenging for organisations to navigate. Crisis management teams have been running consistently since Covid, creating a real risk of burn-out in this critical function.

“Being proactive regarding risk management will be key as many surveyed expect the risks companies are facing to increase in 2024. Partnering with other organisations or experts can help organisations understand which risks – and their second or third order impacts – they are most likely to face based on geographic reach, industry or travel patterns. Forewarning enables organisations to proactively plan for or mitigate likely risks.”

The Top 5 predictions:

Running on empty

In recent years, as the disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic began to subside, the emergence of the Ukraine/Russia conflict unleashed new waves of supply chain and service disruptions across various industries. With these ongoing stressors accumulating without respite, the risk of employee burn-out is becoming increasingly tangible.

The report’s findings noted that organisations have experienced a noticeable surge in stress-related absences. Surveyed respondents emphasise that the perceived risk level for the next 12 months is the highest ever recorded – 65% believe that global risks will continue to grow in 2024 – compounding their crisis management fatigue beyond pre-pandemic levels.

Climate crisis

Over the past 2 000 years, global temperatures have increased faster in the last half century than any other similar period, highlighting how relevant climate risk is now for businesses across the world.

One in four organisations reported that they have already seen their operations affected by events attributed to climate change, and this year the second biggest category out of the thousands of alerts issued by International SOS in 2023 was extreme weather events.

This comes as only half of respondents say they have factored climate change into their health and security plans, emphasising how vulnerable many organisations could be. This issue is certainly not going away, as about three-quarters of businesses report extreme weather as a challenge to their employees and operations in the coming year.

Dr Irene Lai, global medical director, International SOS, said: “Many of the extreme weather events we witnessed in 2023 may become commonplace in the year ahead potentially driving climate anxiety amongst a growing number of employees. Extreme heat in Europe, for example, could become a regular occurrence with potentially more named heatwaves, following the first – Cerberus – this year.

“With rising temperatures comes the increased possibility of disease spread, as the conditions are opportune for mosquito-borne diseases. We have already seen this in some regions, with the appearance of locally transmitted malaria in several US states after two decades. The changing transmission pattern of malaria in the African highlands and the trends in vector-borne diseases in Europe pose some significant new challenges for public health officials. Therefore, it is crucial for organisations to have plans in place to address the potential rise in novel medical risks.”

Global instability deepens

The second-highest security concern identified by respondents in this year’s survey revolves around geopolitical tensions. As a striking three out of four respondents expressed the belief that their organisations will face significant impacts in the coming year. Notably, the ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza, as well as the persistent conflict in Ukraine, contribute to this unstable global environment. Civil and social unrest, coupled with political instability, rank as the next largest worries for organisations.

AI – risks and opportunities

AI has inspiring potential to create a new industrial revolution. However, for now, it further complicates the vital task of sorting reliable information from misinformation and deliberate disinformation for businesses. More than two out of five respondents of the Risk Outlook research said they were worried about the effect of medical misinformation and disinformation on their workforces.

The New Employment Contract

Three-quarters of surveyed organisations report increased employee expectations for duty of care. A similar number are now also shouldering duties previously seen as government responsibilities, including two-thirds who acknowledge extending responsibilities to support workers’ families in times of need. This underlines how the era of offering only basic occupational health services for work-related conditions is over.

Peter Kriel, general manager at The Independent Institute of Education, offers tips to combat burn-out:

He says while it is important to build those habits that support mental and physical well-being outside work, the eight hours-plus of our workday should also be harnessed to ensure optimal and ongoing well-being, to avoid burn-out.

1. Effective time management: Successful leaders often use time management techniques, like prioritising tasks, setting boundaries, and delegating, to avoid burn-out and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Procrastination is the main enemy of good time management practices and ultimately adds to stress levels.

2. Learning and personal growth: Successful leaders often engage in lifelong learning by reading, attending seminars, taking courses, or seeking mentorship to stay updated and adapt to changing environments. Not being on top of developments, the latest technologies and other changing aspects in the business world may not seem like something that would impact self-care, but it does, because you are less likely to feel stuck in a rut, and your skills will remain relevant in a highly competitive work environment which reduces stress and concern about job security.

3. Taking short breaks during the workday can help recharge the mind and prevent burn-out. Use these periods of downtime to reflect and refocus.

4. Stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing or journalling, help.

5. Regular self-reflection and personal goal-setting help us stay focused on long-term objectives and ensure we are aligned with our values and priorities. Being able to measure your performance against the goals you set will not only identify gaps, which will help you focus, but also creates a sense of achievement when goals are met. Both these aspects will greatly support your self-care drive.