Workplace Wellbeing 'Go the extra mile'

By asking staff to work through fatigue, CEO reveals a tired attitude towards burnout

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An airline chief is facing a backlash after calling on employees to work through fatigue so the business can avoid 'reputational and financial' damage. In a video message to staff, Wizz Air chief executive Jozsef Varadi encouraged staff to go "the extra mile" when tired, so that the firm could avoid cancelling flights. Chaotic scenes have unfolded at airports in recent weeks as staff shortages resulted in hours-long queues of travellers and flights being delayed and/or cancelled en masse.

In a bid to minimise the impact for Wizz Air, Varadi told workers: "Now that everyone is getting back into work, I understand that fatigue is a potential outcome of the issues but once we are starting stabilising the rosters, we also need to take down the fatigue rate.

"I mean, we cannot run this business when every fifth person of a base reports sickness because the person is fatigued. We are all fatigued but sometimes it is required to take the extra mile."

He added: "The damage is huge when we are cancelling the flights, it's huge. It is reputational damage of the brand and it is the other financial damage, transactional damage because we have to pay compensation for that."

In a bid to minimise the impact for Wizz Air, Varadi told workers: "Now that everyone is getting back into work, I understand that fatigue is a potential outcome of the issues but once we are starting stabilising the rosters, we also need to take down the fatigue rate.

"I mean, we cannot run this business when every fifth person of a base reports sickness because the person is fatigued. We are all fatigued but sometimes it is required to take the extra mile."

He added: "The damage is huge when we are cancelling the flights, it's huge. It is reputational damage of the brand and it is the other financial damage, transactional damage because we have to pay compensation for that."

UK’s burnout problem is far from over

Understandably, Varadi’s comments have sparked a backlash from airline unions, specifically regarding how pilots and flight attendants working past exhaustion could pose a major risk to passengers. But his comments also highlight wider issues about burnout, and attitudes towards it in the workplace.

Burnout is defined by mental health campaigning group Mental Health UK as a state of emotional and physical exhaustion that “can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.”

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