Maybe you became an entrepreneur because you felt like you were stuck in a previous role. Or perhaps you didn’t fit in well with the company culture. Now that you’re in a leadership role, you can take an active part in helping your team prevent burnout. In this article, we’ll talk about what burnout means along with strategies for preventing employee burnout.
What is Burnout?
Psychology Today describes burnout with the words cynicism, depression, and lethargy. It’s a condition characterized by emotional exhaustion and chronic negative responses to stressful workplace conditions. And the Mayo Clinic defines burnout as “…a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” Both of these respected references indicate burnout can have a variety of negative effects on the employee and the business. Next, we’ll look at how burnout can affect your company.
Risks of Burnout
The effects of employee burnout can wreak havoc on your business. It can reduce productivity in individuals and teams, foster personal conflicts, and may even cause turnover. A 2017 Workplace Trends study of more than 600 HR leaders reported that 20 – 50 percent of employee turnover is directly related to burnout.
Some of the possible outcomes of burnout can include:
- Decreased productivity
- Poor physical health
- Increased absenteeism
- Reduced job satisfaction
- Increased accident and injury risk
- Reduced workplace morale
- Increased turnover
Now that we’ve covered what burnout is and how it can affect you and your organization, let’s take a look at why it happens.
How Do Employees Get Burned Out?
An employee is likely to start burning out when they:
- Feel unappreciated for their work efforts
- May be undercompensated for their role, tenure, or both
- Are in a role that isn’t a good job fit
- Expect too much of themselves or feel too much is expected of them
- Rarely feel that the work they are doing is good enough
- Feel inadequate or incompetent
- Have unreasonable demands placed upon them
Burnout can happen at any level of your organization. It can be chronic in nature and may affect individual and team performance and health. Prevention strategies are usually an effective approach to address workplace burnout — but it’s also important to recognize the signs.
How to Identify Burnout
Employees who are experiencing burnout may exhibit one or more of these symptoms:
- Reduced productivity, efficiency, motivation, and energy
- Increased errors
- Mood and physical issues like fatigue, headaches, irritability, and frustration
Severe burnout can also result in:
- Self-medication with alcohol and other substances
- Sarcasm and negativity that can affect not only the employee but also their co-workers
- Debilitating self-doubt
None of these symptoms are likely to benefit the individual or the company. Now, we’ll take a look at leadership’s role in preventing employee burnout.
Preventing Employee Burnout
There are many strategies management can implement to help prevent burnout. Remember your most effective tool in overcoming burnout is your team. Let them help you understand how to improve their work lives. You might consider starting with:
- Providing clear, reasonable, realistic expectations to everyone and ensuring that each employee understands those expectations
- Being sure that employees have the necessary resources to meet expectations, whether its technology, safety equipment, or a positive workplace environment
- Encouraging mutual support and respect within and among individuals and teams.
- Regularly providing training to maintain and improve their skills
- Communicating the value of each employee’s contribution to the organization and its goals
- Championing work/life balance by helping assess workload for those who feel pressured to work beyond normal business hours
- Supporting taking breaks and physical activity throughout the workday
- Sponsoring events and outings attended by leadership that help the team connect and share their appreciation for each other