Action Steps to Help Prevent Employee Burnout
- Employee Engagement
I’m going to kick this blog off with a couple of startling statistics from Gallup:
- 76 percent of full-time employees are experiencing feelings of burnout on the job at least sometimes.
- 28 percent report feeling burned out at work “very often” or “always.”
That’s concerning, right? The pervasiveness of employee burnout indicates it is a systemic and organizational challenge that needs to be addressed as such but individualized to each employee.
Here’s the thing, though. If you’re an organization with hundreds or thousands of employees, an individualized approach may seem near impossible. But I have good news. There are ways to approach employee burnout that makes it feel less like one more thing to add to a strategy or meeting agenda and more like turning on the pressure relief valve. Let’s turn that valve on!
Defining Employee Burnout
The World Health Organization defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized 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 and
- reduced professional efficacy.”
Clarifying What Employee Burnout Really Is
Burnout impacts retention and attraction efforts and productivity. It can also increase the cost of medical benefits. To the shock of…absolutely no one…when employees are burned out, they are 2.6 times more likely to be actively seeking a different job, more than 60 percent more likely to take a sick day, and almost 25 percent more likely to visit the emergency room.
So, how will you know if your employees are experiencing burnout? Managers are your eyes and ears. They will have the best pulse on how their individual team members are doing. And if they don’t have a strong pulse on their team members, that’s also a likely sign that they and/or their team members are disengaged — a blog topic for another time!
Managers may not know if their team members are seeking a different job, but they’ll likely have an idea of who is taking sick days, sought medical intervention, or heard rumblings of some of the root causes of burnout.
Possible Root Causes of Burnout
While there are common factors associated with employee burnout, it is important to note that burnout is a complex issue influenced by the individual and the organization. Causes and their significance may vary across industries, job roles, and organizational cultures, including all of the following:
Excessive Workloads and Job Demands
A heavy workload, long working hours, and unrealistic expectations can be overwhelming. High job demands without sufficient resources or support, or tightened budgets can create chronic stress. “Quiet quitting” or employee disengagement has increased as a means of coping with unrealistic expectations.
Lack of Control and Autonomy
When employees are lacking control over their work processes, autonomy in decision making, or are unaware of what’s expected of them at work, they may feel disempowered. Micromanagement or lack of clarity can further exacerbate the deterioration of an employee’s well-being.
Insufficient Support and Recognition
A lack of feedback, mentoring, or opportunities for growth can contribute to feelings of stagnation. Employees may feel uninformed, alone, or defensive. However, when employees strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager they are about 70 percent less likely to experience burnout.
Increased fatigue, lack of leisure time, and strained relationships are often symptoms of employee burnout. While efficiency is often necessary, the quality of employees’ efforts often decrease when they feel under constant pressure to rush work or meet unrealistic deadlines that cause them to work longer hours.
Unfair Treatment at Work
While it is illegal to harass someone or treat them unfairly because of who they are (age, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.), unchecked bias, favoritism, and mistreatment by a coworker or manager can lead to unfair treatment. Unfair treatment leads employees to be 2.3 times more likely to experience a high level of burnout.
Goals for Reducing Employee Burnout
If your employees are showing signs of burnout (and given the statistic, most likely someone in your organization is), you’ll need to take some time to reflect on what a realistic end goal or desired future state is for your organization. What steps you are willing to take to fix the problem? If there are specific employee-pockets you’ll focus your efforts on, who will they be? What timeframe you are working within?
Action Plan for Addressing Employee Burnout
Once you determine your goals, then you’ll need to create your action plan to address employee burnout. Your action plan should focus on all areas of wellbeing.
Encourage collaboration, teamwork, and mutual support among employees. You could also implement a mentor program and organize social events, volunteer opportunities, or provide resources and time for team building activities.
Encourage breaks and time off and have a minimum requirement for paid time off each year. It’s also a good idea to review your employee health benefit coverages to match your workforce composition.
Another idea? Promote walking meetings, offer gym memberships, or provide nourishing snacks.
Provide training programs, workshops, and educational resources to develop employees’ skills and knowledge. A few additional ideas:
- Celebrate milestones and successes.
- Share employees’ career journeys to show pathways (common and unique) to promotions or leadership opportunities.
- Require regular performance feedback.
Encourage employees to set boundaries between work and personal life, supporting their need for time off and leisure activities — and avoid contacting them outside of work hours.
You should also consider providing provide mental health support, such as medical benefits that include mental health coverage or access to mental health professionals, and access to apps for mindfulness or meditation.
Offer workshops or resources on budgeting, financial planning, and saving strategies to help employees effectively manage their finances.
You should also review your total rewards package and analyze employee salary for persistent promotion biases that may need to be addressed.
Are You Ready to Tackle Employee Burnout?
Remember, identify your first goal. Build it out in detail. Then go implement your specific action plan and watch it take effect, one change at a time.
If you’re looking for support and assistance in identifying your first goal or building out your action plan, reach out to ethOs. We’re here to enhance, empower, and engage your people in the best employee experience you can offer.July 17, 2023