Burnout and work-related stress are often given as the major reasons why employees consider quitting their jobs. Feeling stressed or fatigued in the workplace can make staff unhappy and may lead to medical issues as well as feelings of dissatisfaction.
As an employer, it’s important to keep your staff away from work burnout as much as possible but the question is, what can you do about it?
In this article, we will dig into workplace burnout, look at the reasons that cause it, as well as discuss how it can be alleviated.
What is Work Burnout?
Employee burnout is an unpleasant mixture of work stress, exhaustion, and negative feelings. It’s closely connected to the nature of the job and the workplace environment. The World Health Organisation defines work burnout as follows:
Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
- Reduced professional efficacy.
Not that long ago, employee burnout was viewed as a workers’ problem and something that they had to manage if they were going to make a success of their career. Increasingly, though, employee burnout is considered a problem with the company, not the workers, and it’s up to business leaders to address the issue.
What Are the Signs of Workplace Burnout?
Leaders and managers in a company need to look out for the following signs of employee burnout in their staff:
- Increase in absenteeism
- Decreased productivity
- Making more mistakes in the job
- Difficulty remembering tasks
- Unmotivated and unenthusiastic about the job
- Poor decision-making
- Irritability and overly sensitive to feedback
- Cynical and negative attitude
- Exhaustion due to difficulty sleeping
- Lack of interest in the workplace culture
Burned-out employees lose their drive to grow within their roles. They struggle to get through each day at work, let alone focus on future development.
What Causes Employee Burnout?
Burnout tends to come about in the following situations:
Over-Collaboration or Excessive Micromanagement
While collaborative working can be great for creativity, too many meetings, reports, brainstorming sessions, and presentations can overwhelm workers who want to quietly get on with the task at hand.
Poor Time Management
Setting unrealistic deadlines, over or under-estimating the time required to complete tasks and failing to appreciate the pace at which employees work can put stress onto teams.
It’s a mistake to overestimate the amount of work you think your team members can handle, and just because talented employees can work faster, this doesn’t mean you should give them more tasks.
Poor Or Toxic Workplace Culture
A workplace that does not stamp out bullying, gossip, oppressive behaviour (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.), office politics, or unfair treatment can lead to staff members feeling stressed or anxious. This can lead to employee burnout.
Physical Demands of The Job
An over-demanding physical role can lead to employee burnout. Excessive sitting or standing, walking miles, and heavy lifting can all lead to an exhausted staff.
Lack Of Support from Managers
A lack of support is often given as a major reason for employee dissatisfaction. Consistent unhappiness in the workplace can lead to employee burnout.
Lack Of Work-Life Balance
Workplace events that impact on home life, such as long hours and weekend working, always-on email and messaging encroaching into personal life, can lead to employee burnout.
How Can Employers Prevent Work Burnout?
The solution to fixing employee burnout is to ‘fix the work’. How can you do that, and create an employee-centric culture? The answer is simple – put wellbeing at the heart of your workplace.
When an organisation embeds wellbeing into its culture, rather than viewing it as something that is ‘nice-to-have’, employees are more inclined to take good care of their physical and mental health and speak up when something’s not right.
Here are a few tips to create this culture of wellbeing and avoid employee burnout:
Make Managers Responsible for Preventing Staff Burnout
Traditional managers often go for the dictatorial style of man-management that often causes harmful workplace stress. In the modern workplace managers should be made aware that the responsibility for avoiding employee burnout is theirs.
To do this a manager should:
- Listen to employees. Talk to them about what’s working and what isn’t and take action.
- Set clear goals and expectations.
- Have a clear policy for scheduling and balancing workloads, and prepare to be flexible
- Encourage collaboration, but don’t overburden staff.
- Support employees by automating tedious tasks using IT systems if possible.
Make The Employee Experience the Best It Can Be
The saying goes, “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to do a day’s work in your life”, and employees who love their jobs tend to be the ones who avoid burnout. By creating the best employee experience, you can help reduce the causes of workplace burnout. Things like flexible working and manageable workloads are a great way to prevent burnout.
Make Mental Health A Priority
Job burnout often results from the stress of an overwhelming workload, inflexibility, lack of direction and clarity, micromanagement, and unfair treatment. These can all affect the mental health of an employee and can lead to absences and staff turnover. Having a clear mental health strategy that protects staff and provides avenues to deal with stress can go a long way to avoiding burnout.
Foster A Caring Culture in the Workplace
Instead of waiting for people to burnout, encourage them to come forward for support by making sure they know it’s OK not to be OK. Give them time to discuss their issues and look at ways that you can support them.
It’s important for employees and managers to recognise early signs of employee stress and act on them by asking how employees are, their highs and lows, and how they can help make work easier for them.
Workplace burnout is a real problem in the hectic, modern world. But that doesn’t mean we are helpless to deal with it before it becomes too much of an issue.