Employee burnout– defined as how a person responds to various stressors in the workplace– is a very real problem facing employers today. Burnout doesn’t only impact the affected employee; it creates a ripple effect that can wreak havoc on the workplace. Just a few of the ways employee burnout is reflected in the day-to-day happenings of the office include: increased absenteeism, lowered productivity, decreased morale, and greater conflict with co-workers and management. In short: employee burnout is a condition that should beavoided whenever possible.
What causes burnout?
Many people mistakenly assume that employee burnout is the result of a single factor, such as an excessive workload. In most cases, however, burnout results from a combination of factors, including:
- Lack of feedback. Employees desire feedback from management, including recognition for a job well done. When employees feel that they’re not acknowledged and appreciated, burnout often occurs.
- Lack of resources. When employees are not provided with adequate tools or support to perform their responsibilities effectively, employee burnout is a likely result.
- No input in decision-making. Everyone wants to feel that their voices are heard in the workplace. Employees who lack the ability to provide input in decisions affecting their jobs are more likely to feel unappreciated and burned out.
- Skills are not utilized. Even if the working environment is pleasant, if an employee feels like her skills and talents aren’t being utilized to their full capacity, she’s unlikely to feel satisfied in her role long-term.
How can I help my employees avoid burnout?
Fortunately, there are steps managers can take to help combat employee burnout in the workplace. Consider the following tips:
- Keep expectations reasonable. You want your employees to feel challenged without feeling overwhelmed. So, keep your expectations reasonable and assign tasks that can be realistically completed within the designated timeframe.
- Encourage breaks. Many managers make the mistake of pushing their employees to work through lunch and avoid taking breaks. This does not result in more productive employees; in fact, the opposite is often true. In addition to encouraging employees to take a one-hour lunch break, consider allowing 10 to 15 minute breaks throughout the day so that employees can stretch, take a walk, or attend to personal matters.
- Be flexible. Let’s face it: even managers make mistakes. If you’ve assigned a task that proves to be too much for one person to take on, split it between multiple employees. If you’ve given an unrealistic deadline for project completion, make adjustments as necessary.
- Invest in training. Studies show that employee morale and retention rates are increased when employees feel that they have room for growth at work. One way to encourage growth is by providing training opportunities for employees.
- Encourage workplace socialization. Employee burnout rates are decreased when positive relationships exist between co-workers. Thus, encouraging team bonding is key. Encourage socialization between employees during breaks and lunch hours. Schedule the occasional after-hours bonding activity or create a company kickball team.
- Keep reasonable hours. It’s a common misconception: longer hours mean more productive employees. The more typical scenario, however, is that long hours lead to decreased productivity and morale— and eventual burnout. Remember: a well-rested employee is an engaged, productive employee. Allow your employees to take guilt-free sick days, paid time off (PTO), and vacation days.
- Don’t underestimate the power of the kitchen. Sometimes it’s the simplest gestures that go the longest way towards avoiding employee burnout. A well-stocked kitchen is one of those gestures. Employees feel more appreciated when the workplace feels a bit like home, so keep an abundance of snacks and drinks available in the kitchen.