Seven strategies to deal with workplace burnout
Even among the strongest workplace cultures, employees are struggling with burnout.
The ongoing impact of the pandemic and new hybrid working models are leading to employees working longer hours. Monitoring employee burnout is more critical than ever because it is a top reason employees quit.
Energage research based on survey results from more than 240,000 employees shows nearly 40 percent of participants often feel overwhelmed and experience burnout at work. Even worse, only 64 percent believe their company cares about it.
Employee burnout is dangerous because it causes people to focus on just surviving the workday rather than thinking forward. If unchecked, it will spread like wildfire, leading to business disruptions, higher turnover rates, and stunted company growth.
Beating burnout at work requires identifying root causes, changing habits, and asking leadership to set the tone. Knowing the warning signs of burnout, how to deal with it, and who is responsible can help your organization tackle root causes.
Prevention is the best-case scenario to minimize the spread of employee burnout. It is such a contagious issue that it can sneak up in unexpected ways, no matter your prevention strategy.
There are several ways to get ahead of burnout.
1. Take a burnout assessment: Tests can open the door for communication and give management a gauge on burnout levels. Giving employees consistent opportunities to share feelings and getting managers interested in the process will boost morale, productivity, and profitability.
2. Encourage managers to check in with employees often: People spend most of their waking hours at work. And their manager has the most significant impact of everyone they interact with. It is essential that managers care about their employees as individuals and show genuine interest in their goals and concerns. When managers care, they have an easier time creating an environment of trust and mutual respect.
3. Reset job expectations: Employees are more likely to experience burnout if they feel they are working too much or have unclear job expectations. Managers must reevaluate employee workloads to ensure job expectations are reasonable and clear.
4. Use employee assistance resources: Providing trained professionals to help with any issues can address employee burnout. This can include counseling, mental health programs, personal coaches, and wellness programs.
5. Offer rewards: Getting creative with employee rewards can help employees feel valued and appreciated. Just be sure to separate these from performance-based incentives. Schedule no-meeting days to give employees time to catch up. Encourage employees to take advantage of vacation days. Offer bonus time off.
6. Keep track of workplace culture: Know the warning signs of employee burnout. It can include emotional, mental, and physical symptoms. Warning signs also look like a bad attitude, laziness, or personal problems. Additionally, burnout may be caused by life outside work. Consider flexible work schedules. Respect boundaries to encourage work-life balance. Reduce time pressure whenever possible.
7. Use compassion and empathy: Avoid jumping to conclusions when employee performance slips. Instead, open 1:1 communication to understand what is happening and how you can help. Good managers know that providing employees with a compassionate, empathetic, honest, and safe space to talk will help. Employees who feel heard are more likely to speak honestly and share what could improve the situation.
Employee burnout is a significant threat to your company, including higher turnover, decreased productivity, and poor customer service. Efforts to prevent burnout and improve employee well-being are most effective when practiced across the organization.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.