Ways to keep employee burnout at bay
Millennials are one of the first generations to be significantly poorer than their parents. With rising housing costs and stagnant wages, this generation has a widespread feeling of workplace burnout. Millennials are particularly susceptible to this feeling of hopelessness because of their upbringing. Brought up with the expectation of steady, lucrative work, millennials experience a startling disconnect when this employment doesn’t materialize or simply doesn’t pay enough.
While millennial burnout has been the focus of recent speculation, anyone can experience burnout symptoms regardless of age. In June 2021, the Gallup poll data indicated that 74% of employees sometimes experienced burnout at their job, regardless of age. So what exactly is burnout, and how can you identify the symptoms in your employees?
Ways to keep burnout at bay
With the substantial financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have decreased sales and have been forced to lay off employees. This diminished workforce has made it more challenging for many companies to achieve the same standards of business as in pre-pandemic times.
Retaining quality employees has never been more vital. However, while burnout can lead not only to unproductive, unhealthy employees, it can also decrease employee retention and increase employee turnover. So, between the ramifications of the “great resignation” combined with the financial impacts of hiring new employees, how can you ensure that your employees are satisfied at their jobs?
To keep your employees from experiencing workplace burnout and encourage creativity and enthusiasm for the job, it’s crucial for you as an employer to know what burnout looks like and how to deal with it head-on. Preventing workplace burnout isn’t always possible, but following these six tips for keeping burnout at bay will help employees feel valued, understood, and vital to your team, which will give your company a promising outlook for the future.
Know the signs of burnout
While prevention is key when it comes to burnout, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms when burnout happens. Knowing the signs of burnout can help with early detection and mitigation measures. Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast definition, and because it isn’t an official medical diagnosis, the symptoms can be challenging to pin down. In general, however, burnout is a feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy due to sustained feelings of stress.
Burnout usually occurs after a prolonged period of unrelenting stress. Symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, inability to focus, irritability, angry outbursts, anxiety, and social withdrawal, which can manifest as increased sick days or absenteeism.
Every employee is a unique individual and can experience burnout in different ways. Similarly, the causes of employee burnout can differ from employee to employee. Burnout in the workplace is usually due to specific workplace stress and can lead to a lack of productivity and happiness at work.
Allow time to reset and recharge
Employees who take time to recharge their mental batteries and focus on their personal lives will be their best selves at work. Rest is as essential for our bodies as physical exercise, and too little rest can be a burnout trigger.
If you’re not able to offer additional time off for your employees, there are still things you can do to promote a healthy work-life balance. For example, establishing a predictable work schedule for your employees can help them plan for their free time.
Monitoring your employees’ workload is another critical consideration for preventing workplace burnout. If your team has been pulling significantly more hours than usual for a prolonged period, burnout can be inevitable. Therefore, tracking your employees' hours each week and monitoring the overtime worked can help you take preventative measures before employees are overworked and burnout sets in.
Offering flexible scheduling can help with burnout after periods of high workloads. For example, follow periods of a heavy workload or overtime with a slower, quieter period. Or try to lessen the burden of an overworked employee who seems to be struggling with the increased workload.
The human resources department is an invaluable resource for encouraging employee wellbeing, so include this department when strategizing burnout prevention methods. For example, consider tasking this department with making a mindfulness webinar or encouraging the use of mindfulness apps for your employees.
Set boundaries: Kill the after-work emails
Keeping work and life separate can be a massive benefit for employee wellbeing. But this is only possible if you’re willing to limit your communications with your team to the workweek. Establish consistent protocols about what kind of communications are permitted outside the workday and stick to them.
Suppose the nature of your work necessitates sending emails outside of work hours or during vacation time. In that case, it’s crucial to make your expectations and requirements about checking email outside of work clear. Develop a plan to deal with this with your human resources department. Overall, it may be best to forgo after-work calls and emails entirely.
Giving your employees the space to recharge away from their phones and email when they’re off the clock is a great way to prevent burnout. In addition, these healthy boundaries can ensure that your employees are refreshed and genuinely present when they show up for work each day.
Remote workers can be particularly at risk of burnout when their boundaries aren’t respected. Limit emails to the standard workday to help remote employees enjoy their home life without the intrusion of work stress.
More boundaries: Understand pay and job stability
Your employees have diverse backgrounds, and with those backgrounds come individualized stressors. Some employees may be juggling extra caregiving responsibilities, particularly parents dealing with school closures during the pandemic. These outside factors can influence your employees’ mental state and job performance.
Worrying about job stability and pay as well as these outside stressors, can be one of the root causes of burnout. However, maintaining consistency in scheduling and being transparent about pay can help increase employee retention and create a better employee experience. In addition, being mindful of these external stress factors and making reasonable accommodations can help you create a better company culture and reverse a high turnover rate.
Listen to your employees
It’s crucial for employees to feel like their opinions and feeling are being heard. Employee check-ins are an easy way to accomplish this. If you struggle with keeping track of who you’ve spoken with and when, set yourself some recurring alerts or reminders. This way, you’ll make sure that everyone on your team has a chance to voice any frustrations or concerns. These reminders will help you keep track of each employee and make you a better, more engaged boss.
If you start to notice some of the early burnout symptoms during your employee check-ins, don’t hesitate to make the necessary changes. For example, perhaps encourage your employees to use a mental health day to recharge their batteries and come back to work feeling refreshed. Remember, your team members’ well-being at home and work will help decrease the likelihood of workplace burnout.
Show employees how their work is impactful
Job satisfaction is crucial for employee retention, so how can you ensure your employees are happy with their work? Appreciating your employees’ hard work may not be enough, especially if you don’t verbalize that appreciation. Show your team members that their work is making a positive impact by publicly recognizing hard work or offering rewards such as free PTO or flexible scheduling.
Underappreciated employees may be more likely to suffer burnout, contributing to a high turnover rate for your company. Don’t wait until you’re already noticing signs of burnout to show your appreciation. Establishing rewards and recognition in anticipation of burnout will build a better work environment and can even increase employee engagement.
The bottom line is that sometimes employee burnout is unavoidable, and employee burnout isn’t always a reflection of an unhealthy work environment. Unfortunately, the world we’re all living in is unlike anything we’ve seen before, and many of our standby methods for coping with workplace stress may feel like they just aren’t working anymore.
But, by facing burnout head-on, you can strengthen your team and secure your organization’s future. Setting boundaries, listening to your employees, and offering space for your team members to rest and recharge can significantly improve your workplace morale.
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