Worker burnout warnings spread across World Economic Forum

Published on RawStory, by Agence France-Presse, January 30, 2011.

Anti-depression drug sales up in Germany: … After a brutal four days of world leaders’ speeches, schmoozing and wild parties, exhausted global delegates at the World Economic Forum were warned of the growing dangers of burnout for society.

Economic turmoil, round-the-clock communication and constant social pressure to succeed have led to a costly increase in stress-related illness and burnout, a panel of experts told a packed session in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

“In the future, the greatest challenge to the global health system will be stress-related diseases,” said Heinz Schuepbach, director of the school of applied psychology at the University of Northwestern Switzerland. 

The phenomenon is rapidly growing more prevalent, he added. According to a study this week by one of Germany’s top health insurance companies, one in five workers in Europe’s top economy has fallen ill from stress at work.

In the last four years, sales of anti-depression drugs have risen by more than 40 percent in Germany, the study showed … //

… With concerns about rising food prices, persistent fears over the environment and lingering worries about the debt crisis casting a pall over the annual pow-wow, organiser Klaus Schwab warned of a “global burnout syndrome.”

And the syndrome hits executives where it counts: in the pocket. According to the World Health Organisation, the average burnout victim takes 30.4 days off work, costing billions to the economy.

One top executive at Swiss food giant Nestle, Stephanie Pullings Hart, told AFP that the annual Davos meeting hardly helped to reduce the risk of burnout.

“It’s my first Davos and it’s actually pretty exhausting,” she said.

“You start working at 7am and you’re not done until at least 2am by the time you’ve finished with the various receptions and parties.

“How the world leaders cope with the stress is beyond me,” she said. (full text).

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