Burnout is the worst. For those suffering from burnout, it feels like set-in exhaustion that cannot be cured with a good night’s sleep.
And, from a business perspective, employee burnout means lost revenue, missed deadlines, and a high turnover rate. This is because burnout leads to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.
One of the best things you can do for your organization is to reduce employee burnout. By doing so, you’ll enjoy the benefits of being a more engaged employee.
In this guide, we’ll share tips on how to prevent or relieve employee burnout.
What is Job-Related Burnout?
Job-related burnout is the exhaustion that comes from persistent and unrelieved stress. It’s the natural consequence of running on empty. You’ve already given it your all but there’s still a demand to give even more. And what happens when you don’t have any more to give?
You show up, but you aren’t fully present. You’re not excited to be there. You may feel trapped, irritated, overwhelmed, or all of the above. Depending on your personality, this feeling can lead to careless behavior, or it could cause you to take risks that are potentially damaging to you, your team, and your organization.One of the best things you can do for your organization is to reduce employee burnout. Here's why: Click To Tweet
Three common coping mechanisms for mental stress are apathy, detachment, and cynicism. These are all notorious enemies to healthy workplace culture. And these coping mechanisms don’t just affect the individual employee. They can spread like wildfire across your entire organization. One employee with an indifferent and detached attitude can negatively affect the rest of their team. Team members who aren’t enthusiastic about working through a project or working with each other will no doubt put a damper on the entire project.
The ideal work environment is one where everyone wants to be there and feels like they’re playing a valuable role in your organization.
Factors That Lead to Employee Burnout
Before we discuss how to reduce or even eliminate job-related burnout, let’s discuss the most common factors that lead to this mental state.
Too Much Work
An oppressive workload is one of the biggest contributors to burnout. While everyone expects to “work” while at work, there’s a definite limit to how much we can reasonably produce on a daily basis. It’s one thing to work feverishly towards a fast-approaching deadline, but if you’re constantly asking your employees to shoulder a heavy workload, you’re headed for burnout.
No Work-Life Balance
Going hand in hand with being overworked is having no work/ life balance. It’s pretty common for employees to stay at work longer to finish up a project or complete a task, but when this practice becomes “the norm,” it can disrupt the worker’s personal life. They’ll miss time with friends and family because they have to stay late, show up early, or work on their off days.
Lack of Recognition
When a part of a team, employees often work in the shadows. No one, outside of the team and the manager, understands the impact that the employee has on any particular project or the organization as a whole. However, everyone needs to feel like what they do matters. Otherwise, they can feel invisible and valueless. Recognition may not be a big deal to you because it’s also important to show them that you see the value they’re bringing to the table.
Lack of Resources and Support
When an employee doesn’t have access to the tools and other resources they need to do the job, they’ll often stress out. It’s difficult to do a task when you also need to cobble together a makeshift solution. When employees feel like they have no support from their manager, from others on their team, or from both, they’ll stress out. You may not see the cracks right away, but those cracks will eventually show up as carelessness, lack of enthusiasm, and skepticism.
Employee burnout can also happen when an employee feels like they’re being treated unfairly, compared to other employees at your organization. While this feeling can arise in response to a one-time event, such as being passed over for a promotion, burnout usually happens when a worker encounters or observes a string of inequitable activities, such as pay disparity or lack of recognition.
What’s a guaranteed way to derail trust and destroy employee morale? Gossip in the workplace. Gossip creates a negative atmosphere in the workplace that causes employee insecurity. No one wants to feel like their work colleagues are talking behind their back. But gossip isn’t the only cause of workplace toxicity. So is favoritism, which often happens when managers are motivated by friendship or natural camaraderie.
We’ve touched on this briefly before, but it deserves its own mention. When an employee isn’t being fairly compensated for the amount of work they’re asked to do, it can lead to burnout. While they may not actively seek outside employment, an underpaid employee may develop an apathetic attitude and decide not to put in their full effort while on the job.
Pressures in Personal Life
While we’re not supposed to bring our personal issues to work, it’s impossible to fully compartmentalize our lives. Marital worries, financial woes, deaths, births, and other day-to-day events can create a lot of mental stress that can lead to burnout both on and off the job.
COVID-19 threw the entire world into a state of panic and discomfort. None of us have escaped unaffected by this pandemic. From dealing with sickness to homeschooling children to adjusting to the new and sometimes confusing health mandates, everyone is feeling stressed these days. If you’re not careful, that stress can turn into burnout. It’s often difficult to navigate through our new normal.
No matter the source, burnout usually rears its ugly head after a series of stressful events.
How to Avoid or Reduce Employee Burnout
So now that we’ve discussed the common factors that lead to job-related burnout, let’s now look at ways that you can reduce this from happening with your team.
Let’s be honest. Unnecessary meetings can be an absolute drain on the soul. Some people love meetings, but others find them utterly unproductive and a distraction from other tasks that they could be completing.
Instead of meeting for the sake of meeting, consider doing walking meetings with only those who need to be consulted. Or scrap group meetings altogether and focus on checking in individually to communicate project goals directly.
Ask for Feedback Regularly
It can be difficult (if not impossible) to know how others on your team view their work, their place on the team, you, your leadership style, and the organization as a whole. Instead of guessing, you can ask. Survey your team regularly. Anonymous surveys are great because they encourage honest feedback. And don’t just collect feedback. Put that feedback into use. Employees are less likely to burn out when they feel like their voice is heard and that their opinion in the workplace matters.
Set Work Hours
What hours do you expect your employees to work? Set clear expectations with your employees. And just as you check with employees clock in, be aware of when they clock out. Occasional overtime is unavoidable and to be expected, but if your employees are always at work late or on their days off, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
Ensure that your employees routinely work at the times you’ve set. Also, see to it that your employees are taking breaks throughout the workday. Even a 10-minute break can be enough to refresh and restart the brain.
The number one reason why employees leave is due to poor management. They feel as if managers are not giving them the tools or space they need to do a job. Controlling your project to the point where your team members feel little to no autonomy will ultimately earn their contempt.
Instead of micromanaging, describe the big picture, assign tasks, give them the tools they need, and take a step or two back. Always keep your door open to assist them, but otherwise, trust your team to do their jobs. You can also create multiple milestones or checkpoints so that you have an opportunity to monitor their progress.
Employees often feel burned out right away, as soon as the initial “high” of getting a new job wears off. This can point back to improper onboarding.
If your newly hired employees feel like they’ve been pushed into the deep end and don’t know how to swim, it can go two ways.
The first way is that the new hire flails around and somehow makes it to shallower water that matches their depth of understanding. They’ll stick around, but they won’t really know the job or feel confident.
The second way is for the new hire to quit simply because they don’t get it.
Both of the above scenarios are bad. And highlights the need for thorough employee onboarding. You can set up your employees for success by creating a program for new hires. Explain all aspects of the job and where the employee can go for help. This can ease the new hire’s transition into your organization and avoid burnout from happening.
Employee burnout is a chronic condition that affects many workers. But there are several remedies to treat burnout. And there are also preventative measures you can put in place to avoid burnout altogether. Use the above tips with your team to reduce their mental stress and increase their overall productivity and employee morale.
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