How to Avoid Burnout From Sapping The Life Out of Employees

Posted by Seraine Page on Thu, Oct, 14, 2021

BurnoutAvoid-01Want to know how to avoid burnout in your workplace?

There’s no one answer, but, luckily, there are options to keep burnout levels to a minimum. Even though burnout isn’t an official mental health medical condition, it does have a massive impact on mental health.

Because of this, more companies are seeing the investment in mental health resources as worthwhile. In fact, companies that invest in workplace mental health get a 4x return on investment. This can increase productivity, improve retention, and support inclusion measures.

Sadly, 70% of workers don’t think employers are doing all they can to prevent and reduce burnout at work. But you have the power to change your own workplace environment and your employees’ minds if they’re feeling that way.

If your company has been scrambling to find the right tools and resources to empower employees since the pandemic burnout hit, then this post is for you.

Here’s how to avoid burnout before it comes into play in your workplace:

Why Learning How to Handle Burnout Matters

Burnout is caused by chronic stress that a person hasn’t learned to deal with appropriately. 

Sure, stress is a part of the work environment, but it’s the chronic part that needs to have employers worried and taking positive action. A March 2021 report by the job site Indeed uncovered statistics that prove burnout is a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored by employees.

Here are some of the stats:

  • 67% of workers say the pandemic has worsened employee burnout
  • 53% percent are working longer hours, making unplugging harder
  • 27% are working more on a daily basis
  • 36% of workers think extra PTO could help minimize burnout

If your team’s enthusiasm is fading fast, you’ll see them calling out sick more in addition to being more cynical, exhausted, and fatigued. They may also start searching elsewhere for work if they’re feeling they aren’t supported in the workplace.

This is especially true for women more than men. One recent report from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org found that 42 percent of women reported being burned out compared to 35% of men. That gap has since doubled from just a year ago.

The consequences of long-term stress have been well-researched and cause both physical and emotional issues if ignored. Don’t let your employees get so burned out that they’re dealing with conditions like alcohol or substance abuse, insomnia, fatigue, and other serious illnesses because they’re being worked into the ground. Offer useful stress and anxiety management techniques to help them deal.

Related: Anxiety vs. Stress: Why Employers Need to Know the Difference 

Burnout Causes That Can Be Avoided

With remote work being the new norm and employees feeling the need to be logged in 24/7, it’s not surprising that work feels overwhelming. Not to mention, it’s unsustainable. That’s not the only burnout risk, but it’s one of the most relevant ones right now.

Additionally, other factors may include:

  • Lack of fairness - If employees feel there is a lack of fairness in assignments, rewards, etc., they may feel powerless or disrespected. Not only do individuals want to be treated fairly, but they also want to see others — including colleagues and clients — treated fairly as well.

  • A perceived lack of control - An inability to control one’s environment — like scheduling or work assignments — can lead to burnout.

  • Insufficient reward system - Rewards are a fun and simple way to keep employees engaged. If they feel rewarded for their work, they’re more likely to continue putting their best efforts forth. Rewards can create a strong loyalty connection if offered appropriately and regularly.

  • Lack of support - Everyone needs support, even leaders. If there isn’t much support at home or work for personal and professional endeavors, one can feel overwhelmed quickly and want to throw in the towel.

As mentioned before, a work-life imbalance can have a major impact. If an employee’s work takes up more waking hours than not, there’s the missing social connection aspect among other factors. This can lead to an inability to relax and unwind because work is always front and center.

Related: 31 Enticing Ideas for Employee Engagement Your Staff Will Love  

Burnout Busters Worth Trying Today at Work

Focusing on solutions right now is key to eliminating significant burnout in your employees — both in-house and remote. If your team is logging long hours, complaining of fatigue, and struggling to keep up with the workload, it’s time to reflect on how to improve workplace efficiency.

Here are a few ways to avoid burnout mode:

Make the Calendar Everyone’s Best Friend

Those last-minute “Oops, I forgot about that meeting” and “Tomorrow is the deadline?!” panic moments don’t need to happen if everyone gets organized with a calendar. Encourage leaders to send email invites with reminders, offer verbal reminders, and ask everyone to schedule it on a main and/or personal calendar. It will keep work flowing and less overwhelming.

Set Clear Boundaries for All

While being an understanding boss is appreciated by most employees, it’s important to also be clear about expectations, too. For example, if you want an employee to take advantage of the unlimited PTO to deal with some personal issues, say that. But be clear in the messaging. “Take a few days off to see how it goes,” is too vague. Specifically saying, “Take off Thursday through Tuesday and call me Monday afternoon to let me know how things are going” provides specific boundaries and clear expectations. This ensures everyone is on the same page so no one gets taken advantage of during challenging times.

Change the Perspective 

We all have 24 hours in a day. Thankfully, we don’t have to work all 24 hours, but some days it may feel like we need that much time. In reality, tasks that have been put off for months may actually be done in minutes or less than a few hours. Have your team create lists of things they’ve been “meaning to do” and challenge them to schedule the time — however short — to start chipping away at those tasks. Help them feel like they have more time and change their perspective.

Evaluate Options 

If you see team members struggling, take the time to discuss how things could go better for them on a daily basis. Work together to nix the struggle and find an option that works for the individual and the team. It may mean hiring an extra person, buying new software, or even additional training. Be open and evaluate it from all angles.

Offer Mental Health Resources

 Offer professional support to your staff. Whether this means having a counselor on staff or providing a list of special mental health resources your company’s employees have access to daily. Psychotherapy offers the benefit of improving relationships, better emotional expression, and increases feelings of positivity and understanding.

Show — Don’t Tell — Employees How to Avoid Burnout

Burnout is a topic that can easily be glossed over. The word gets thrown around a lot, but the consequences of not taking action around it are too dire to ignore. 

Keeping loyal employees long-term means showing them — not just telling — how to avoid burnout is a must. That means leadership must demonstrate they believe in taking time off, fair workloads, and a work-life balance. It’s a delicate act, yet it’s one that is so crucial to the health of the workplace and its employees that it calls for support from leadership at all levels.

Whether you offer paid family leave, unlimited PTO, mental health support, or other resources, look at the best way you can support your staff within reason.

When your company implements these burnout resources, be sure to hold senior management responsible, too. It shows your company is invested not just for show, but for the long haul.

How do you show your team how to avoid burnout in the workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Burnout Busters

Topics: Healthy Workplaces


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