Employee burnout is something all businesses have to deal with at some point. Burnout comes with lower productivity, increase absenteeism, exhaustion, lack of concentration, and overall negativity at work.
While anyone can become burnt out at any point during their career, it is often not because they don’t enjoy the work they are doing. But unfortunately, many employees leave their jobs due to burnout.
Employee burnout extends beyond work life and can impact someone’s personal life and overall happiness and wellbeing. Reducing burnout is important for employers because they don’t want their employees dealing with lower productivity or unhappiness on or off the job.
This article will discuss what employee burnout is and how you can prevent it.
What is Employee Burnout?
Employee burnout happens when employees have prolonged exposure to stress. To the employee, burnout might feel like exhaustion, or they could have an inability to focus.
Overall, they find themselves accomplishing less work, and their work may not be up to their standards. Additionally, engaged employees might feel the impacts of prolonged stress more than unengaged employees.
That’s likely because engaged employees care about their jobs and the company. However, caring about their jobs has become a double-edged sword because it leads to increased exhaustion.
As a manager, it is important to address the things that may contribute to burnout. Causes of employee burnout include:
- Being overworked
- Role ambiguity
- Values disconnect
- Lack of support
4 Ways to Prevent Employee Burnout
There is no way to prevent employees from getting stressed at work. After all, they could be stressed for any reason. However, you can prevent burnout.
HR professionals and employees need to focus more on employee well-being and managers need to be aware of the stress and workload of their employees. Employee burnout doesn’t just have mental effects but can lead to physical symptoms as well.
By fostering a culture that cares about the physical and emotional health of their employees, workplaces can reduce and prevent burnout in some cases.
Preventing burnout is not up to the employees; the employer must find ways to prevent burnout and reduce employee stress. For example, if you’ve noticed an employee hasn’t taken any PTO all year, try to encourage them to take some time off to rest. Here are some ways you can prevent employee burnout:
1. Offer Recovery Time
Sometimes you can’t prevent stress at work. There might be a fast-approaching deadline, or bad project management can lead to employees working overtime.
While most employees expect to work overtime now and then, employees should not be expected to work overtime constantly without getting time to recover. Your most engaged employees will push themselves for the company and their clients, but it can eventually lead to employee burnout, especially if the stress is prolonged and their work-life balance is out of control.
After a big project push, managers should adjust workloads to provide a recovery time for someone who spent more hours than usual at work.
Recovery time can look like anything, depending on the organization and the employee. For example, employers can offer additional time off to employees who had to work overtime on a project to make up for the time they lost at home. Additionally, they can give them less work to do in the weeks following a big project to give them time to re-engage in other activities.
Of course, you shouldn’t rely on recovery time to prevent burnout. As we’ve already said, your employees should never be expected to push themselves day after day under tremendous amounts of pressure. Instead, it is up to management to create realistic expectations and manage projects effectively.
Managers should also pay attention to employees so they can see when someone is working too hard too often.
Additionally, management can offer an open-door policy to allow employees to talk about problems when they feel overworked, stressed, or even burnt out. By allowing your employees to talk to you, you can prevent burnout by understanding why they are stressed while finding ways to deal with additional workload so that your top performers don’t become overwhelmed.
Lastly, remember that time off means time off. When an employee is on PTO, it is important to respect their time, just as you would expect them to with your time while at work. This means emails, messages, and other items are going to need to be put off until they come back.
To regulate stress from employees being out of the office, create a system where employees are able to cover for another team member while they’re out of the office.
2. Foster a Healthy Culture
Far too many employers don’t care about the well-being of their employees and will continue to push them to the limit so they can make more money.
However, employees are smart, and they understand that continuing to push themselves affects their mental health with no reward for them. Fostering a culture that leads to prolonged stress can lead to high turnover rates, which will lead to hiring employees and watching them leave almost constantly.
Additionally, companies that foster a high-stress culture end up spending more on training and hiring new employees due to higher turnover rates. While any profession will lead to stress at some point down the road, it is important to implement action to help employees manage that stress so that they do not get burnt out on their roles.
Focusing on employee wellbeing can help employees better manage stress to prevent burnout as well as foster a positive work culture. Let your employees set boundaries by recognizing how they feel about their workloads and critical feedback.
When an employee says they need to take time off or confide in their manager about how their day-to-day at work has been and are looking for advice, take them at their word. Whether you’re in HR or management, you are a resource to your employees.
Allowing your employees to express how they are feeling and allowing your employees to focus on their mental health fosters a happy work environment, which in turn will contribute to the growth of your company.
Employers can also help employees recognize the importance of employee well-being by hosting events for employees to teach them how to care for themselves, providing them with mental-healthcare access, as well as other health benefits like the gym. The main point is, to listen to your employees’ needs and implement action to help them lead healthy and happy lives.
3. Help Employees Find Purpose
While your employees are working hard for your company for money, the best employees and top performers have a sense of purpose that keeps them working hard.
Helping all of your employees connect to their purpose within the workplace can help prevent burnout because they’ll feel like they are doing something important, helping them form an emotional connection to the workplace.
Employees may contribute to the growth and success of your company, but employees also expect companies to contribute to their growth and development. As your employees what their goals are with the company.
Are they hoping to move into management down the line? Are they hoping to learn more about another department? Offer them the resources and opportunities to do so. Host learning opportunities, offer feedback, and utilize meetings to help employees get on the path they would like to be on in their professional careers.
Employers can also help employees feel more connected to the business by focusing on values and their roles within the company.
Your employees should know how their duties contribute to the success of the company. Knowing that your work is important to the company and your team helps validate the everyday tasks of your employees.
4. Offer Flexibility
Your employees have lives outside of the workplace, and spending at least eight hours a day at work can mean spending less time with their families or other responsibilities not related to work.
Whether or not your employees are parents, everyone has responsibilities outside of work that can cause stress at the workplace. In some cases, your employees’ minds may not even be on the task they’re working on at the office.
Combining workplace stress with regular life stress can lead to burnout faster. By offering a flexible work environment and the opportunity to work from home or during the hours when employees are most productive, employers can help improve employees’ work-life balance so they can relax and stop worrying so much.
The world is slowly inching away from the typical 9-5 hours of operation, especially for remote teams. Instead, many companies are deciding to let their employees work at their speed.
Obviously, for meetings and scheduled items, people need to be present, but as long as your employees get their work done, there isn’t really a need to keep employees in for specific hours of the day. If your business can be flexible, give it a shot! Your employees will appreciate being able to get their work done in a way that works for them.
How to prevent employee burnout at the workplace?
Employee burnout doesn’t happen overnight. Employees who deal with prolonged stress and stressful environments will slowly get burnt out over time, leading to lower productivity and decreased morale.
Employers and HR departments can work together to prevent employee burnout and keep their employees happy and healthy. Start small, like giving them a thank you gift when they have a successful project, and then move into more things that foster long-term happiness with the company.
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Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she shares knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favourite music.