Preventing Employee Burnout

Preventing Employee Burnout
We all know what kind of negative impact burnout has on a company and its employees, and we’ve seen that exhausted disgruntled employee – it’s usually the one that calls in sick frequently, doesn’t perform up to snuff, appears distant and cynical, and eventually throws up their hands and needs to go on sick leave to get things sorted out and rejuvenate.

Many factors can contribute to employee burnout, usually resulting in a combination of exhaustion, inefficiency and cynicism in the employee. Unfortunately, in our fast-paced world, it is more common than ever, and it affects all types of careers and employees.

Many managers and employees aren’t aware of the signs and how to prevent it from happening. The key to prevention is being able to understand burnout, what causes it, the telltale signs of burnout, and gathering some effective tips to preventing it from happening at all.

It would appear that burnout would be caused solely by overworking, but it is much more multidimensional than that. Burnout is actually caused by a combination of factors, usually revolving around employee exhaustion, an inefficiency to do your job, and a cynical perspective of the workplace environment. Exhaustion usually results from the weakening of workplace resources, whether it be emotional or social, and an inability to cope with the job environment.

The cynical employee looks like someone who is disgruntled and seems suddenly distant from the job. As for inefficacy, this is the feeling of diminished personal accomplishments, which results in an employee who simply stops trying. So what causes burnout?

Work Related Causes

Job demands can cause burnout by overloading an employee. Whether it is too much paperwork, too many clients or too many deadlines, the job demands – and not enough people or time to deal with them – can cause burnout. A lack of clarity regarding your role in the job can also cause conflict. For example, if your duties are not clearly outlined, you may end up doing too much. It’s also important to have a clear amount of information regarding your role, so you know exactly what is required of you to do your job.

Lack of resources can also lead to burnout. This includes any policies, monies, information or staff needed to perform effectively. Social support can also fall under this category – or rather, lack of social support. This is especially true when a lack of support is coming from a supervisor as opposed to a co-worker.

Finally, lack of feedback, or no input in decision making, can cause burnout. Feedback is important to fix problems, and employees who feel involved in decision-making processes are less likely to fade away.

Personality Factors

Burnout is higher among people who feel they have no control over themselves, their work environment and the changes that occur around them. They tend to be more defensive, easily susceptible to stress and don’t manage change in the workplace well. Essentially, this co-worker who thinks everything is beyond his or her control is the one that burns out more easily.

Some other factors that border on personality and workplace related reasons for burnout include:

  • A lack of appreciation, recognition or financial reward for hard work/a job well done.
  • No relationship or connection with other staff, resulting in isolation or being ostracized.
  • Inequality in workload or pay, or a sense that those who cheat or slack are being handled ineffectively, or a loss of promotion.

Burnout can be detrimental to the success of a workplace or business. It not only affects the performance of the employees, but also the entire team. Effects such as lowered productivity, withdrawal, absenteeism, conflict reduced commitment and disruption are all effects of burnout.

Preventing Employee Burnout

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to avoid this demise in your employees and business. Many business owners and bosses don’t recognize burnout until its too late, so be conscious of the signs listed above, and take the following measures to help prevent it:

  • Assign tasks and fill positions based on the staff’s strengths and passions. If you give them a job that they feel confident, skilled and useful doing, they will be more likely to enjoy their tasks and stay engaged.
  • Be open and aware to change. If the employee seems unhappy in that position, be open to ideas to stimulate new positions or roles.
  • Allow your employees to spend some time working on a project or task that may not be directly related to their role, but is still relevant to their job. This can stimulate passion and innovation.
  • Be flexible with deadlines and goals, and don’t spread your team so thin that they are overwhelmed with the workload.
  • Ensure everyone knows their role and has the tools to be successful. Essentially, set your people up to succeed, not to fail.
  • Training is key, so your team knows their job and their confidence is high.
  • If you are a manager, be visible and show support to your team. You want to listen to their concerns and address them. A supportive manager always runs a happy team.
  • Get to know your team and show an interest in their lives, their likes and dislikes, and develop a relationship.
  • Implement a health and wellness program, with features such as a discounted or free gym membership, paid mental health days and nutritional support to help people feel their best.
  • Most importantly, ensure that staff feels able to take breaks when needed, and that they are not pressured to work 10+ hours a day. This is a sure-fire way to have employee’s burn right out. It is essential that there be a healthy work-life balance.

Some other keen and unique ways that you can prevent burnout by uniting your team are stocking the staff kitchen with goodies and free coffee or potluck lunches once in a while. Or, consider staff social events, such as pub nights, bowling, or even an annual company softball tournament or picnic. These team building activities make people feel that they belong, as well as that they are cared for by their peers and employees, resulting in a happier work environment!

Burnout is sometimes inevitable in all work environments, whether you own a pet store; you’re an ER doctor, a graphic designer or anything! Stress is a part of life, and it will hit you at some point or another.

As an employer and a colleague, be aware of the signs of burnout, and try to employ the tricks and techniques to prevent it. By identifying what the problems and stressors are in your organization, planning accordingly to deal with burnout, and following through with all employee expectations, you will pave the way to success. And most importantly, try to make your work environment a place where your employees feel happy, important and useful.