Tackling the welfare of our colleagues in the planning world


The emotional and financial pressure on planning professionals currently is unprecedented.

With the sheer volume of work, increase in planning applications, low morale, dwindling workforce and unrealistic expectations, many believe that the industry is in crisis. But it is the welfare of those in the public sector in particular which has become a huge concern to us all.

It’s widely acknowledged that the issue of low morale and burnout is the most worrying challenge facing our public sector colleagues.

And so, planning professionals are being forced to make a jump from the chronically understaffed public sector to the private sector. Many are forced into long-term sick leave. And a massive number of planners are leaving the profession altogether.

Then the snowball effect of attracting, retaining and training staff causes a severe knock-on effect for the delivery of all services.

It’s clear that increasing budgets is crucial – to hire and retain experienced staff, develop more junior staff and promote and reward senior planners.

Others would say that the solution needs to be more radical, with a complete overhaul of systems and culture. Whatever the solution…there is not an overnight fix.

As a senior leader in the industry, what can you do to protect your staff, and yourself, from professional burnout? A recent survey from Clear Review found that half of UK staff would leave their job for better burnout support.

Burnout is defined as extreme physical and emotional exhaustion which leads to increased absenteeism and a decrease in productivity. And once employees reach this stage, it’s hard to bounce back.

We believe that tackling burnout is all about changing workplace culture and habits before burnout sets in. Regular contact with employees to review goals, development and engagement, plus open feedback and commination is vital.

We know that mental health was the common cause of work-related ill health even before the pandemic. Now, within the planning sector, we can see professional burnout taking its toll on our people at a worrying level.

At SF Planning, we would urge anyone who is feeling stressed and emotionally exhausted at work to recognise the signs and reach out for help. Don’t let professional burnout creep up on you.

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