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What happens when we ‘power through’ burnout?

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Employers know that burnout levels are increasing, but it’s important to step in and tackle it head on before it’s too late.

A recent survey from HRLocker found that more than half (52pc) of respondents are experiencing burnout.

The company surveyed 1,000 full-time employees across Ireland to assess their stress levels and the primary causes of stress.

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This is common thread with many other surveys and reports from around the world suggesting a significant increase in stress, exhaustion and burnout among the global workforce.

Another recent survey, this one of US workers, found that 89pc of respondents reported experiencing burnout over the past year.

While it’s easy to acknowledge that this increase in burnout is a problem, it’s a very different thing to take steps to actually address it, whether you’re an employee on the verge of crashing or a manager starting to notice the signs among your team.

Burnout is classified by the World Health Organization as a “occupational phenomenon”. While this can seem problematically vague for those who are experiencing it, Prof John Gallagher, chief medical officer at Cork-based Cognate Health, sees it from a different perspective.

He said that because burnout is considered a workplace phenomenon, it is not so much about the individual as much as it is about the impact that the workplace environment has on them.

“We can support the individual, but the real question is how do we fix the workplace and the impact it is having on the employee?”

‘The blurring of the lines between work and life has had an impact’
– DR SARAH O’NEILL

Many people will be familiar with the symptoms of burnout, which include profound exhaustion, cynicism about work, decreased productivity and extreme emotions.

However, it’s also worth noting that some people are more prone to burnout than others. “More often than not these are the more idealistic, committed and dedicated employees,” said Gallagher.

Dr Sarah O’Neill, chartered psychologist and chief clinical officer at Spectrum Life, agrees that it can often affect the most high-achieving employees. However, she said there are other people who can be prone to burnout too.

“People can also experience ‘bore-out’ when they are in a role that is dull, repetitive and there is a distinct lack of stimulation. The third common iteration is when people become worn down over a period of time,” she said.

“While the first example may be much more aligned with what we think of when we imagine burnout, the end result is the same.”

When the elastic band snaps

Burnout occurs when there are unusual levels of pressure or stress over a prolonged period of time. Those who start to suffer the symptoms will most likely have been ‘on’ for a long time with no opportunity to rest and recover.

“Think about an elastic band,” said O’Neill. “They stretch and bounce back. If the band is stressed, stretched out without the opportunity to bounce back and reset, overtime it loses its stretch. You can think about stress this way. Then burnout is when the band eventually snaps.”

Often, employees don’t mean to ignore their own health. Even the overachievers would rather reap the rewards that come with rest and recovery, which are higher energy levels, more productivity and better focus.

But sometimes an ongoing stressful period seems never-ending, like during a pandemic for example, and it can feel impossible to find the time to actually stop and take a break. You might just feel like you have to power through your stress in the hope that you’ll make it to the end of the tunnel.

However, it is this ‘powering through’ that will directly result in burnout. While it’s important for employees to be aware of this, Gallagher said it’s vital that employers and managers know when to step in.

“What employers and managers will see if an issue isn’t addressed is that the person will pull back and distance themselves from their work, become more cynical and ultimately disengage from the workplace completely. The physical symptoms are similar to those seen across other mental health issues such as feelings of exhaustion and weariness, as well as bowel and stomach problems,” he said.

“It’s important that managers engage with employees early once they see any of these warning signs and that they check in to see if the person is OK. Often the people that are most likely of experiencing burnout are those who take on more and more work without raising any red flags about their mental health and ability to cope.”

O’Neill agreed that early intervention is key but that it’s also important that managers understand how each member of the team responds to stress and pressure within the workplace.

“It’s critical for managers to know their teams well enough to recognise when something is off. That makes it possible to mitigate issues before they progress too far by managing an employee’s workload and having open conversations with them about the mental wellbeing,” she said.

The pandemic effect

Burnout has been a concern for employers and employees for several years now but, as we have seen from recent surveys and reports, the pandemic has likely compounded the stressors that can bring about burnout.

O’Neill said there has been a 30pc increase in people presenting with burnout compared to pre-pandemic trends.

“The blurring of the lines between work and life has had an impact and we’re seeing pretty consistent results from research where employees are identifying blurring of boundaries impacting their mental health.”

Gallagher has seen a similar increase, including increased incidences of anxiety and depression.

“It would seem that mental health concerns will be at the core of our work in occupational health for the foreseeable future. There are the more obvious reasons for this – increased feelings of isolation, loneliness, disconnection from people, as well as the general stress and anxiety of living during a global health crisis,” he said.

“But this is all compounded by the fact that it is easier to hide any issues from your colleagues and employers while working remotely and being less connected in real life.”

However, it’s not all bad news. O’Neill also said there are some positives to be gleaned from the pandemic when it comes to mental health. “We have collectively lived through a traumatic time which has, at its best, given us a new perspective on our lives. The theory of post-traumatic growth shows how a difficult experience can shift your values and your perspective on different situations in life, allowing you to move through them and grow as a result.”

Employers’ duty of care

While it’s important for employees to watch out for signs of burnout in themselves, both O’Neill and Gallagher agree that managers have a duty of care when it comes to workplace risks for their employees and these risks must include psychosocial risks.

“What I always say is that managers and employers need to ‘ask, don’t assume’ when it comes to discussing mental health concerns. We can’t assume a person is dealing with an issue and we can’t leave them to handle it by themselves. Managers need to reach out to employees and ask them how they are doing, especially if there have been any warning signs,” said Gallagher.

“Sometimes employers and managers prefer to pull back when an employee appears to be dealing with a mental health issue but that is when we need to lean in and address it openly and directly.”

‘We need to ask ourselves why employees are more comfortable saying that they are having issues with their physical health as opposed to their mental health’
– JOHN GALLAGHER

O’Neill said it’s also important to look at the supports in place for teams, such as an employee assistance programme, and examine whether or not they are sufficient.

“We know people are increasingly experiencing mental health distress, that impacts them in the workplace and the mental healthcare system is, like many parts of the health service, overwhelmed by demand,” she said.

“Even if mental health distress is not a work-related issue, it can be in the interests of companies to provide support to employees from both a cultural and business perspective.”

While having support systems in place are vital, Gallagher highlighted the fact that the area of mental health can still be highly stigmatised. “While we have seen great developments to date, there needs to be an increased effort made to eradicate any stigma around mental health in the workplace,” he said.

“We need to ask ourselves why employees are more comfortable saying that they are having issues with their physical health as opposed to their mental health – we still see employees asking for their medical certs to say they are suffering from back pain rather than stress, anxiety or depression. We need to cultivate an environment where employees are as comfortable saying they need time to care for their mental health as they are saying they need time to prioritise their physical health.”

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Most IPv6 DNS queries sent to Chinese resolvers fail • The Register

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China’s DNS resolvers fail two thirds of the time when handling queries for IPv6 addresses, and botch one in eight queries for IPv4, according to a group of Chinese academics.

As explained in a paper titled “A deep dive into DNS behavior and query failures” and summarized in a blog post at APNIC (the Asia Pacific’s regional internet address registry), the authors worked with log files describing 2.8 billion anonymized DNS queries processed at Chinese ISPs.

Among the paper’s findings:

  • 86.2 percent of queries were for A records – the record for a resource with an IPv4 address;
  • 10.4 percent were for AAAA records that point to resources with an IPv6 address;
  • 93.1 percent of queries for A records succeeded;
  • 35.8 percent of requests for AAAA records succeeded.

The researchers – led by professor Zhenyu Li and Donghui Yang, both from the Institute of Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences – suggest the reason for the low success rate of AAAA record queries is poor performance by some Chinese players.

One outfit, 114DNS, succeeded with just 14.5 percent of AAAA queries. Alibaba Group’s AliDNS succeeded 54.3 percent of the time – more than Google or Cisco’s OpenDNS, which were found to resolve 43.4 percent and 49.2 percent of AAAA queries respectively.

A fifth of DNS resolvers never succeed at handling IPv6 AAAA queries.

“Overall, A and MX queries are successfully resolved most frequently, while AAAA and PTR manifest lower success rates,” the summary reads. “Specifically, the failure rate of AAAA queries is surprisingly over 64.2 percent — two out of three AAAA queries failed.”

“We also found the success rates for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) were lower than that of well-established domains, primarily because of the prevalence of malicious domains,” wrote professor Li.

However the researchers did not identity why DNS resolution rates are so low, especially for AAAA queries. Nor do they mention what the poor IPv6 resolution rates mean for China’s plans for mass adoption of IPv6 by 2030.

The blog post recommends users adopt “a larger negative caching time-to-live for AAAA records associated with domains that only map to IPv4 addresses reliably.” Checking DNS resolvers’ success rates is also suggested ahead of making a choice of DNS provider. ®

OpenDNS mess

In other DNS-related news, Cisco’s OpenDNS service today wobbled for a few hours in North America.

WeWork offices, wherein some of our vultures toil, experienced network problems, as did at least one university. We’ve also heard reports that the incident impacted email security guardian Spamhaus.

The issue was resolved without Cisco offering any explanation for the incident.



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Wayflyer co-founder backs US fintech start-up Arc

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Jack Pierse, co-founder of Dublin-based unicorn Wayflyer, was one of the many backers of Arc’s $20m Series A round.

The co-founder of one of Ireland’s tech unicorns has invested in a US company developing tools for start-up financing.

Wayflyer’s Jack Pierse was one of several investors who joined Arc’s $20m Series A funding round. The round was led by Left Lane Capital, which is also an investor in Wayflyer.

Other investors included Clocktower Technology Ventures, Torch Capital, Atalaya, Bain Capital Ventures, Soma, Alumni Ventures, Dreamers VC, NFX, Y Combinator and the founders of Plaid, Column, Chargebee, Vouch and Jeeves.

Like Dublin-headquartered Wayflyer, which reached unicorn status earlier this year following a $150m Series B round that valued the company at $1.6bn, Arc is merging technology and finance together.

Wayflyer’s platform provides e-commerce merchants with financing and marketing analytics tools to help them access working capital, improve cash flow and drive sales. It was founded in 2019 by Pierse and Aidan Corbett.

Arc, meanwhile, is focused on providing software start-ups with financial products and tools. It was launched in January 2022 and graduated from the Y Combinator start-up accelerator programme in March.

“We are building the number one digital bank for software start-ups,” said co-founder and CEO Don Muir.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with this talented group of investors who bring relevant experience transforming fintech and SaaS start-ups into market-leading platforms,” he said.

He added that the capital from this funding round will enable the company to build and scale its products “to meet the digital banking needs of a new generation of software-driven businesses”.

The San Francisco-based start-up now supports more than 1,000 high-growth software start-ups, providing them with funding options and financial tools to scale faster. It offers a cash management account and financial analytics to drive growth.

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Simon Taylor: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet) | Comedy

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Asking someone to list the funniest things they’ve ever seen on the internet should be an official tool for psychological evaluation. I imagine a therapist could determine their client is severely sociopathic just by knowing that they don’t erupt into spasms of unstoppable laughter when watching videos of squirrels riding tiny jet skis. I mean, come on.

So below is a rather intimate insight into my psyche in the form of viral videos. Let’s put me in the therapist’s chair, shall we?

1. I Smell Like Beef

What were your first words? I think what gets me about this video is the repetition. It’s as if this toddler is trying to communicate a whole range of emotions and human experiences with the one sentence she knows. Bellissimo.

2. This animal documentary narration

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Let’s get away from narrators who sound like they are reading a textbook. This clip features the kind of enthusiasm I want in a nature documentary. The woman here is legitimately enthralled by the bird mating ritual and I desperately want her to have her own series on the Discovery Channel.

3. Game Changer

This is my favourite gameshow of all time. The game changes every episode, but in this one, they require the players to improvise a scene given to them in the moment. I’ll say no more other than the comedic timing of these actors is impeccable.

4. Off to school

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Get this kid a comedy special. She has more character than a Disney movie. I wish I was this excited to go to school when I was a kid. Plus, she has quite a repertoire of dance moves.

5. This TikTok duet

I’m not one for cringe comedy and I’m certainly not into teasing people. However, the comedic enginuity of this video is just so impressive you can’t help but cackle. Keep in mind when watching that each new video is a completely independent person adding their own idea to the gag. I’m in awe of this global collaboration.

6. Nathan Fielder: the best burger in Los Angeles

Nathan Fielder’s new show The Rehearsal is big right now, but his first show, Nathan For You, was on Comedy Central a few years back. Fielder is brilliant at staying deadpan during the ridiculous scenarios he creates. This is just a part of one episode, but damn it is hilariously awkward.

7. A dad impersonates his daughter

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I don’t use TikTok. I like to wait three months to see which videos are so funny they make their way on to my Instagram feed. I’m glad this one did. The father’s performance in this video is Oscar-worthy, in my opinion, and the daughter is a great sport for posting it.

8. Trying to be quiet at 2am

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By the time I get home from doing gigs, my wife is already asleep. This video demonstrates exactly why I’ve given up on trying to have a snack before bed or even get a glass of water. Ridiculous and yet relatable.

9. Gambler cat

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I love a friendly game of poker, but damn, I would lose to this cat.

10. Am I pregnant?

For someone who has had books published, I’m a terrible speller. If it weren’t for autocorrect and a team of underpaid editors, this article wouldn’t be about the “internet” but probably the “interest”. Hearing how so many people tried to spell the word pregnant is cathartic and gut-bustingly funny.



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