How to Avoid Employee Burnout
Employee burnout is a condition of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion triggered by inordinate and prolonged stress. It is a state of feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and incapable of meeting workplace and personal demands. As this situation heightens, individuals start to lose the interest and motivation they had before taking on a particular role or function. People always find ways to conceal stress until it starts manifesting, so burnout creeps in gradually and only comes to bear at its worse. On the extreme, a burnt-out person does not see any hope or likelihood of change in his situation.
Empirical submissions abound on the financial toll employee burnout has on organizations. It often results in absenteeism, depleted morale, employee turnover, lower productivity, and employee attrition accompanied by huge payments of workers’ compensation, and legal and insurance costs. Employee-manager engagements are increasingly threatened by employee burnout. Managers who fail to recognize the signs of stress, burnout, or dissatisfaction among employees early enough risk a business season of low output. Handling employees’ burnout is vital in retaining the current workforce and is equally important in boosting an organization’s reputation, longevity, and outlook to attract future talents.
Your employees are your most important assets, without which all other productive inputs will be redundant. Accordingly, your firm’s growth depends on its performance and your ability to give them the support they need to deliver; This should be first on your priority list. Keeping your employee satisfied should not be misconstrued as pampering or laxity, but rather adopting all the right measures of making a workplace enabling. You should also invest proportionately in your workers’ well-being. Although outside factors, like personal financial challenges, politics, and marital problems can spur stress, most cases of burnout have a workplace connotation to them. So here are a couple of ways you can avoid employee burnout.
- Be exemplary: Tackling employee burnout should start with the management of the organization. As a team leader, train yourself to recognize and react to the signs of employee burnout in you and manage it. Eschew negativity, anger, and reactive behaviors even when pushed or stressed. Imbibe values of professionalism, discipline, and constructive engagement just as you expect from your employees. And make sure you manage your stressors outside the office.
- Have walking meetings: Rejig your workforce by initiating meetings while on a walk outside the workplace; It only works for a small group though. Set an agenda around current challenges and likely solutions, updates on projects and tasks, coaching, and employee recognition. Walking meetings increase creative thinking and lead to more honest exchanges among discussants. In a nutshell, walk meetings can ease stress and motivate staff members.
- Make jobs description comprehensive: A clear job description will ensure that each employee’s output aligns with that of the wider team and the organization in general. This maximizes efficiency and limits redundancy. Poor job description design can lead to some responsibilities being left out and others repeated across different team members, this could result in a situation where team members have to take on unattended tasks after theirs or duplicate a task that is already being done by another team member, hence creating unnecessary stress that can degenerate to burnouts.
- Balanced workloads and scheduling: To minimize stress, employers should ensure that workers are not tasked with burdensome workloads and lengthy rigorous schedules. While workloads could be voluminous at some point, employees should not be expected to keep up with heavy workloads at all times. Let workers’ schedules should be done in such a way that everyone will have time off and their workload be made reasonable enough. Consequently, all ad-hoc functions should come with their benefit aside from normal employee remuneration.
- Provide adequate training for employees: For employees to succeed in a role, they need the basic skills, knowledge, and character. Although all employees are expected to be qualified before being hired, further development is required to enhance their skill set and align it with that required for their roles in the organization. In-service training also allows employers the opportunity to direct employees’ focus toward emerging industry trends which has or will necessitate change. Ensuring that adequate training is provided will remove the stresses associated with struggling to fulfill certain objectives without the requisite skills.
- Ensure work/life balance: While striking a balance between your work and personal life, you must also ensure that you extend the same privileges to your employees to minimize stress and avoid burnout. Allow them time for leisure, family, and self-care. It should be institutionalized and supported at the organizational level. For instance, you may close days early before the holidays to enforce the practice of valuing family time, or offer flexible schedules to accommodate personal engagements. Make sure you are as clear as possible during the hiring process about the demand of a role so that employees will make the necessary adjustments before coming onboard.
- Explore work from home options: One thing that technology afforded us is the ability to work from anywhere. This trend became more adapted as a result of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). For roles that don’t require the presence of an employee all the time, you can offer such an employee the option of working from home for a day or two a week. This saves employees time and money commuting and demonstrates organizational trust. Working remotely can minimize the stress of time management for employees trying to juggle medical appointments or for parents or caregivers trying to coordinate their schedules.
- Maintain an open communication policy: When information is hoarded and communication is minimal, employee stress can ascend because of uncertainty. You should make it a practice to provide open communication channels with employees and disseminate information in a timely and transparent manner. Employees should also be availed with platforms to reach you on vital issues if need be; Some can offer a wealth of valuable knowledge and ideas. Listening to them, their views could give you an insight on ways to improve productivity, balance workload, improve teamwork, and project completion.
- Encourage goal attainment and career growth: Lack of opportunity for growth in an organization can cause disillusionment among employees. Try to operate a system that allows for career progression and knowledge advancement. In the contemporary work landscape, supporting employees to obtain new skills can assist them to navigate the dynamic market and help them grow their advancement opportunities within and outside your organization. Encourage employees to instead of viewing stress as a menace, they should see it as a challenge that can help them rise to the occasion. By setting clear goals with team members, your employees will not just know what to expect, but it can also boost their engagement with you.
Employee burnout is an extreme version of stress, which is avoidable from the initial or while growing. Therefore, its manifestation can arguably allude to poor management or systemic dysfunction. In approaching issues that concern emotions, a good manager needs to be strategic and objective to avoid aggravating the situation. As observed, most points highlighted above have to do with firm policies, hence all measures against employee burnout should be long-term, practicable, and open to periodic reviews.