Almost half of charities facing 'significant threat' from staff burnout, survey suggests

Almost half of charities are concerned that burnout is a significant threat to their staff over the coming year because of the pressures brought by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Research conducted among charity leaders and experts, by the insurance company Ecclesiastical, showed that 44 per cent of those polled identified staff burnout as a major concern. Two-thirds said it was something they were more concerned about because of the outbreak. 

The results of the research, which consisted of a survey of more than 250 senior charity managers plus a roundtable discussion with expert, were published in a report yesterday. 

The report says spiralling demand for services, combined with furloughed and quarantined employees, meant charities were trying to do more with less. 

“Furloughed staff feared for their jobs, while those who remained at work had to adjust to remote working almost overnight,” it says. 

“At the same time, the closure of offices and the switch to online services heaped pressure on HR departments and IT teams.”

The report says most charities are responding to concerns about staff burnout by offering flexible working arrangements, provided by 75 per cent of respondents, while 46 per cent said counselling services were on hand. 

Not surprisingly, loss of funding was the threat identified by the highest proportion of charities – 55 per cent – for the coming year. 

The survey showed that more than eight out of 10 charities had responded to the pandemic by switching to digital methods of providing their services. 

Angus Roy, charity director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “The findings from this research make for sobering reading, but they’re no surprise given the extraordinary year we’ve had.

“Charities have become used to dealing with challenges, but this year has given us a perfect storm of a loss of funding through fundraising activities, a reduction in giving from corporate partners, as well as the general public, and an increase in need has left many charities at crisis point.

“It isn’t all doom and gloom, though, and what we have seen is charities rising to the challenge through a mix of innovation, resourcefulness and determination, and that gives us hope for the future.”

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