Employees are working longer and harder than ever before in the workplace, leading them to experience high rates of burnout. Burnout happens when workplace stress is not managed correctly, which creates emotional exhaustion, ineffectiveness, and cynicism at work, as well as a slew of negative responses to workplace stress. This may be related to technological advancements as well as startup culture and the gig economy; however, it is important that leaders take responsibility by helping their employees avoid burnout.
Why should leaders take this initiative?
Burnout threatens the productivity of every workplace and can occur for a number of reasons when employees:
- Feel inadequate, incompetent, or underappreciated.
- Have a lack of role clarity.
- Face unreasonable demands daily or unreasonable time pressure.
- Don’t feel that their work is good enough.
- Expect far too much of themselves.
- Are in the wrong job.
So, why should leaders help employees avoid burnout? Because they may be contributing to the issue.
Leaders can make a difference in the workplace environment that positively impacts employee stress levels. If an employee has an unreasonable amount of work, perhaps they require a teammate’s assistance or a lesser workload. Additionally, giving someone praise shows an appreciation for an employee’s efforts.
Furthermore, it is an employer’s responsibility to keep track of their employees to ensure that people in their employment don’t suffer from burnout. Why? Because this can threaten their productivity and dedication to the company. Studies show that employees are more likely to take a sick day from exhaustion-related issues due to burnout.
How do you know when your employees are suffering from burnout?
Common signs and symptoms of employee burnout include:
- Loss of motivation
- Increased errors
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Irritability and frustration
- Reduced efficiency
- Lower energy levels
In severe cases, this may also include debilitating self-doubt and self-medication (alcohol or other substances).
How can leaders help their employees avoid burnout?
Firstly, check-in with your employees. Managers who are willing to listen to work-related problems drop the burnout average of employees by 62%. So, offer open communication to show them that you care. This also provides an opportunity to seek out any potential issues or concerning patterns. These check-ins don’t have to be formal. You can simply begin by having a conversation, “How are things going? Do you need help with anything that you’re working on?”
Secondly, manage those workloads. Every person is different; therefore, ensure that the level of work matches each individual. If there is an unreasonable demand or time pressure, consider encouraging working in teams to alleviate some of that added tension.
Thirdly, encourage real weekends and holidays. It isn’t fair to say, “Enjoy your weekend!” and then follow it by sending a bunch of tasks they need to complete by Monday morning. Burnout is more common when employees aren’t given enough time to disconnect from work, so they can relax. Everyone needs a balanced lifestyle. Unfortunately, according to the Harvard Business Review, less than half (43%) of their survey respondents use all of their allotted vacation days because they worry they’ll miss deadlines or disappoint their managers.
Fourthly, provide wellness programs and resources. These services can range from yoga and meditation classes to on-site fitness centers, flexible work opportunities, and even nutritious food options. They can make a huge difference in the workplace environment.
Lastly, give credit where credit is due. If an employee is working hard, reward their efforts by telling them you appreciate what they contribute to the company. A simple appreciation can go a long way.
In the end…
If you’ve done all you can and an employee reaches out regarding burnout, don’t worry. We live in a culture of overachievement, so it happens. All you can do is offer to help them through it. Ask them what they want and follow through on any compromises or promises you make.
Looking for more information and support service ideas? Learn more about it with Burnout Support and Prevention Resources: Are There Enough?