All jobs can be stressful, but burnout takes that stress to an unhealthy toxic level. Employee burnout can be defined as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion combined with nagging doubts about competence. As employees become more and more attached to their jobs outside of the office, stresses that lead to burnout increase.
Employee burnout is on the rise, but companies shouldn’t just accept this laying down. Burnout is toxic to a company’s workforce, leading to decreased productivity, workforce turnover, and chronic exhaustion. Researchers had found that organizations (rather than employees) are responsible when employees were unproductive; also showing burnout suspects like boundless collaboration, poor time management and organizations overloading their top performers.
There’s no doubt that employee burnout is a destructive force within an organization– how can leadership address this threat to their ranks? There are five ways to recognize and combat burnout:
1. Make a ‘People-First’ Company a Priority
Great organizations value and support the overall well being of their workforce. Take the opportunity to comprehensively review employee benefits beyond salary and ‘traditional’ employee benefits and talk to your employees about their needs and ideas for improvement.
2. Educate Your Staff on Employee Burnout Signs
In a staff meeting, review the signs and symptoms of burnout with your staff and management. Do your employees feel constantly stressed– having difficulty sleeping or struggling to focus? If this is the case, encourage staff to talk to their manager before they reach full-fledged burnout. Managers often have a difficult time identifying employee burnout, so it’s important that leadership encourages a culture of openness so direct reports can confidently approach managers when they’re struggling. This allows them to develop an action plan for getting that employee back on track.
3. Provide Employees the Tools Needed to Manage Stress
Not everyone learns the knowledge on how to protect themselves from burnout before entering the workforce. Managers can be enormously effective here– mentoring their team in their productivity and time management abilities. This is when hiring good management is worth its weight in gold- they should be helping their team prioritize– delegating tasks, and helping them focus without interruptions or multitasking.
If someone on the team is currently experiencing burnout but is unable to take a vacation, managers should encourage them to put time into their calendar throughout the day to get away from their desk.
It’s important for management to step up in this situation without teaching workers the tools they need to combat employee burnout; it can quickly cripple your workforce.
4. Re-evaluate the Culture Leadership is Establishing
Management needs to be the role model for prioritizing burnout prevention. This seems simple, but often management doesn’t practice what they preach. Avoid sending that email at 2 am or that slack message while on vacation and empower staff to do the same and set boundaries.
5. Encourage Balance
All jobs have stressful times where there is pressure to meet a deadline. But when deadlines are met, it’s important that management encourages staff to take a step back and regroup, as well as decompress. Encourage employees to use PTO to take a break after high-stress times at the office. Do team building outside of the office or do volunteer work. When the office calms down, have teams evaluate their system for personal productivity and time management. This gives them the opportunity to improve and address issues before another busy time.
Ultimately, workers that are most at-risk for employee burnout need assistance in prioritizing time management. A great organization should focus on supporting these workers and providing them with the tools they need to better cope with stress. WIthout an effort by everyone involved to make changes, burnout not only negatively impacts a person’s health and career– it affects a company’s bottom line.