Employee burnout is a real problem in many countries, including the United States. When people feel that they need to push themselves to the breaking point in order to succeed at work, burnout is almost inevitable. In our 24/7 work culture, it’s not surprising that so many organizations are experiencing the effects of employee burnout.
The numbers are significant. One recent survey discovered that three-quarters of people have felt burned out at work at some point and 40% experienced burnout specifically during the pandemic. That’s not surprising, considering that the threat of layoffs looms and many workers have been forced to take on additional responsibilities, even though they have had to take pay cuts.
Employees’ mental health is important not just for the individual, but for the organization as well. People who are concerned about job security or are forced to take on too much may be chronically stressed, anxious, and burned out. This leads to low productivity, lack of employee confidence, and reduced revenue. According to Gallup, burnout also negatively affects attendance and turnover, with burned-out employees being 63% more likely to take a sick day and three times more likely to be looking for new opportunities.
With all of this in mind, it’s clear that preventing employee burnout is a win-win for everyone involved. A happy, healthy, and engaged workforce leads to improved business outcomes. So how can you work to prevent burnout within your organization? Here are some tips.
What Causes Employee Burnout?
In order to prevent burnout within your workforce, you need to first understand what causes it. If you’re noticing that your employees are feeling burned out, look for the culprits within your own organizational structure first.
Many people burn out because they haven’t been given clear expectations for their role. Do they have someone they can report to directly when they have questions or concerns? Do they know what’s expected of them? Do they have ways to measure their own performance? If not, they might get burned out in an attempt to meet undefined expectations and feel insecure.
Another common issue is a lack of control and autonomy over one’s schedule and daily duties. Or, a dysfunctional workplace as a whole might be leading to burnout. If there are bullies or toxic people in the office, poor management, or other issues, people can start to feel stressed and burned out.
Finally, people often burn out because they don’t get enough time to rest and unplug. If your employees never take time off or spend too much time working in any given week, they WILL burn out eventually. Your employees need to take a break and step back to recharge their batteries with leisure time and time with friends and family.
Communication and Employee Concentration Issues With Remote Work
There are many reasons people are experiencing burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a big part of it might have to do with the inherent challenges of remote work. Many of the common causes of burnout discussed above are more likely to occur in a remote work setting and employers must consciously create a structured environment that prevents burnout while not falling into the trap of micromanagement.
Distractions, lack of communication, and a reduced ability to set clear expectations can make it difficult for employees to stay engaged and productive while they’re working from home. Tech issues are also a major concern for teams working remotely.
Although it can be challenging to prevent burnout with these variables in play, there are many examples of successful remote teams that have managed to overcome them. Managers need to find new ways to communicate and supervise employees that support them and set clear expectations without making them feel smothered.
How to Prevent Burnout from a Company Perspective
Knowing the conditions that lead to burnout is a major piece of the puzzle. But how can you help your employees maintain their mental health and prevent burnout? Mainly, ensure a healthy and supportive work environment.
At every level, your organization must demonstrate a commitment to employees and encourage self-care. Make sure people take time off and don’t spend 24/7 checking email. Make it clear that this burnout behavior won’t be rewarded and help people feel more secure by providing transparent communication.
It’s also important to have clearly-defined roles for employees. Provide structure, and give employees the tools they need to succeed. If you’re not sure what you can do to help your employees, remember that you can always ask!
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