Employee burnout is a global issue
An important thing to keep in mind is that burnout can affect anyone. It doesn’t depend on the position, it depends on the company a person works in. Organizations all over the world have seen various burnout manifestations with differing levels of intensity, from taking sick days to suicides.
On occasion, you may notice a star employee becoming irritable and late for work on a regular basis. Enthusiasm has waned, and productivity has dropped. Now you are starting to feel irritable every time you see this person and are becoming frustrated with how the situation is affecting coworkers.
Perhaps you’ve been there—work is overwhelming, help is limited and before you know it, your drive and determination have diminished and all you can think about is how to get out of work.
Regardless of whether it’s you or your employees you’re trying to protect from burnout, it’s of vital importance to your business. Not only are burnt out employees unengaged, but they are less healthy. According to the American Institute of Stress, “workplace stress costs more than $300 billion each year in health care, missed work and stress”.
Build a strong sense of community:
Make every employee feel like they belong; your company culture should be based on an open-door policy; ensure that all of your employees’ questions are answered.
Check in frequently with your team:
If you notice signs of burnout in one of your employees, immediately schedule a 1 on 1 meeting to discuss it. Lend a listening ear; make sure they feel heard and acknowledged, and work to identify the possible causes. Meeting regularly with your employees will help prevent burnout, too.
Let employees do what they do best:
Nothing is more soul-destroying than being in a role you hate, or aren’t even very good at! Your job as boss is to make sure your employees love what they do (most of the time). Talk to your staff, get to know them, find out where their strengths lie (and don’t), and then, if you find some people “mismatched,” be bold enough to switch things up and move people into roles they are most passionate about. If you can’t move someone, then consider adjusting their current workload to reflect what they love to do. Or consider retraining. The costs incurred will be far outweighed by the highly engaged, loyal, and productive employee you end up with in the end.
Talk About Balance:
When an employee has too much on his or her plate, they’ll do anything to get the job done —even if that means working in the evenings, on weekends, and through lunch. And while you and your employee both may think that working long hours sends out a great “I’m such a hard worker” vibe, it can quickly lead to desperation, exhaustion, and unhappiness.
So, when you are a manager, notice your employee struggling with burnout, work together to develop some tactical ways to head off this behavior. For example, I’ll often work with an employee to set a goal cutoff time at night when he or she should turn off their computer, cell phone, and everything else work-related. Or, I’ll let them know that I want him or her to take their lunch hour —and in fact, I expect it.
You may not be able to instantly change your employee’s behavior, but by openly acknowledging your expectations (i.e., that you don’t want your employees to work themselves to the bone), you’ll relieve some of that pressure—and they’ll feel better about making time for non-work-related things.
Give them a voice:
For employees who feel as though they have no say in organizational decision-making, burnout can be a natural or even expected consequence. Some tips to empowering employees include:
- Challenging your team members
- Stoking their passion for the company’s vision
- Giving them clear opportunities for advancement
- Applying the same measuring criteria to everyone, and
- Getting out of their way, and letting them do their work
Encourage employees to use their allotted vacation time. Run a report every year to ensure there aren’t any excessive balances. Offer mental health services, such as a robust employee assistance program. Add activities during company hours, such as a weekly social, that give employees a reason to leave their desks. Encourage managers to have discussions that address work/life balance.