We all go through high-stress periods at work. And while that’s fairly normal, employee burnout is a specific kind of job stress that can have severe consequences. The Mayo Clinic describes it as a “state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”
No matter how pressured a role may be, you should never allow employees to burn out. In addition to impacting the psychological safety and physical health of individuals, it can deal a blow to workplace productivity, increase turnover, and leave everyone feeling disengaged.
What are the causes and symptoms of employee burnout?
There is a range of culprits responsible for employee burnout. Excessive workloads, impractical expectations, a lack of appropriate resources or training, little feedback or support, and time-consuming meetings and collaboration are just a few. In many cases, it’s a combination of these and other factors.
As a result, individuals can experience increased anxiety and irritability, fall ill, and miss work much more frequently. They can also become despondent, disengaged, and lack pride in their work, which can quickly begin to impact others in the team or workplace. Employee burnout requires both proactive and reactive approaches to prevent, or at the very least reduce, its prevalence in the workplace. Here are a few ideas that can help.
1. Build health and wellness into your organization
Your employees are the best asset you have, so it makes sense to build strategies to help take care of them. Health and wellness programs can take many forms, so you need to assess what will work best for your workplace. This could be free gym memberships, mindfulness spaces, on-site yoga, guest speakers and workshops, and fitness incentives. Offering a range of passive and active initiatives means that you’ll reach more people.
2. Educate your staff on burnout and offer support
Your employees might be experiencing burnout and not even realize it. Consider bringing in a health professional to talk to staff about the symptoms of stress and burnout, and what they can do to tackle them. Follow that up with information on how they can go about getting help and support. It’s important to let employees know that you care about them and that you’re willing to find solutions if the stress associated with a role gets to be too much.
3. Listen and take action
When employees come forward and say they aren’t coping, or they are exhibiting signs of stress and burnout, it’s crucial to talk to them about what’s going on. The solution could be as simple as reassigning some of the workload, or it could be a more complex issue. What matters is listening to the person and taking action to resolve the situation. If you don’t communicate with them effectively, you won’t be able to help them out.
4. Measure engagement
There are a host of excellent tools and software that measure employee engagement, development, and wellbeing. This kind of scientific approach has proved to produce great results. Taking the temperature of the workforce regularly gives you a good idea of how well your company is operating. If there’s a problem, you’ll quickly identify it so that you can then take steps to rectify it.
5. Make sure employees have the tools they need
A big form of work stress is not having the right tools to do your job. If your software is outdated, or if your equipment breaks down all of the time or is slow to respond, then your employees can’t do their job effectively. If a job takes longer than it should because workers don’t have the right tools, then it’s up to the company to set things right. Otherwise, you risk allowing stress, frustration, and disengagement to set in.
6. Don’t overburden high performers
It’s always tempting to foist additional work onto top performers. They’re quicker, they do a better job, and they don’t need much oversight. But you’re effectively punishing them for excelling. They’ll experience serious burnout if, instead of being rewarded for their great work, all they get is the added burden of having to take on the work of others.
It’s a serious business
Employee burnout can happen in any organization and HR professionals and leaders need to make sure they are attuned to the causes and symptoms. By implementing proactive and reactive policies, you can make sure workplace stress is minimized and that burnout doesn’t become a hazard in the workplace.
What does your organization do to keep your employees from burning out?
Amanda Groves is the senior marketing manager at JazzHR. JazzHR is powerful, user-friendly, and affordable recruiting software purpose-built to help growing SMBs exceed their recruiting goals. For more information, visit jazzhr.com.