The price of burnout and chronic stress can be high at companies

Published on: 2 August 2018
Article Made in Antwerpen - Edith Vervliet

The number of news reports on burnout, long-term stress and long-term absenteeism is staggering. The abundance of information often makes it difficult for employers to see the wood for the trees.

That is why Select HR, a total provider of HR solutions with its roots in Antwerp, recently organised a series of breakfast sessions on this topic. Neuropsychologist Michael Portzky, who was also a guest on the Van Gils and Guests talk show on 21 June on één, and Serge Simonet talked about the causes and effects of chronic stress. Legal experts from Group S explained the legal implications, obligations and rights involved in long-term absences, while Sylvie De Strooper and Nathalie Naveaux from Select HR talked about stress management. This gave participants a comprehensive overview of the situation, from prevention to follow-up.

“And that is important,” say the professionals at Select HR. “The consequences can be severe, not only on the personal level, but also financially, including the risks associated with sanctions. A company can face a fine of up to 800 Euro per case that is not handled properly. And absenteeism and the loss of motivation among other workers should not be underestimated.”

Prevention is better than cure


“The effects can even be seen under the microscope,” says Michael Portzky. “If we examine the levels of certain essential neurological substances in the blood of someone with, for example, burnout, we sometimes see a full-fledged, career-changing case of burnout. Serious damage can also be seen in the brain connections of such individuals. So it is not surprising that we see significant correlations between chronic stress and, for instance, an increased risk of dementia.”

Stress Awareness Programme


To effectively recover from these effects and once again function as an employee, much work needs to be done. And this takes a considerable amount of time. “That is why Select HR has such a strong focus on prevention,” says Sylvie De Strooper. “Our Stress Awareness Programme closely examines the causes of stress on the work floor, together with an individual or a team. The best results are achieved when we are able to start this process before the effects of stress become too great. We can also take action once the first signs of burnout develop. But this requires that the employee make clear that he or she is ready to make changes and get back into the game. We can then help prevent a relapse - which is quite likely to happen if the person does not receive the necessary support.”