24 Jan What You Can Do to Stop Employee Burnout
We have left 2020 behind, yet the onslaught of troubling news and events continue to barrage our lives and thoughts. Today, worries about the unknowns of the Covid-19 virus, vaccinations, unemployment, business closures, and politics can cause or exacerbate employee burnout.
What is Employee Burnout?
You probably have heard about burnout and maybe have even experienced it. The World Health Organization identifies employee burnout as an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress and can be characterized by these three effects:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy
We advise our clients to look for and recognize the following symptoms:
- Lack of concentration
- Easily upset or angry
- Disengagement or withdrawal
- Seem demoralized, worried, or stressed out
- Perpetuating a negative culture in the workplace
- Frequent absences
- Take time to answer and complete a task
- Lack of energy: caring less about coworkers or clients
Research during this Covid-19 economy indicates the top reasons for burnout include fear of job security and unmanageable workloads. In some cases, over 50% of professionals are experiencing increased loneliness due to working from home and social distancing.
Impact of Burnout
Even one employee facing burnout can affect an entire team by spreading these feelings to other members. When people are unhappy with their work situation, they can let their colleagues and customers know it, intentionally or unintentionally. Negativity within your team can be contagious, and a poor service experience can put customers off.
You may need to take steps to avoid mental frying after too many months of working at home or as essential workers out in the field. What can you do?
Healing the Burn
Recognizing and acknowledging employee burnout is the first step to eliminate burnout. Here are three simple remedies that you can try:
During the initial stages of the pandemic, companies rushed to retool their operations. It was inevitable that many remote workers would see their workloads and working hours increase. Now, fortunately, many teams have established a rhythm to working from home, and managers have a better sense of long-term requirements. However, this is an excellent time to have a friendly conversation with your employees about their schedules. After all, it is in your best interest to prevent burnout. When possible, you may be able to accommodate employees by extending deadlines or shifting some tasks to other team members.
In major cities, it was common to sit in traffic for an hour or more every day. Even in smaller communities, it was part of the daily grind to travel between home and office. But physical commuting does help to delineate your home and work life. When working from home, these boundaries become blurred, and there is nothing stopping everyone from working long hours without a break. Pair that with the increasing workload for many employees, and it is a recipe for burnout.
We recommend making your “operational hours” clear to your team and company, especially if you’re working in a different time-zone from the rest of your team. By clearly setting when you are available—perhaps even marking the times on group calendars—you will be able to constrain the bulk of the workday activity to standard workday hours. However, this will only work if you too make a point of stepping away from your laptop and phone when you are not “on the clock” and advise your teams that they should do the same.
It is easy to become isolated when working from home, even introverts like occasional interaction with teammates. Simple activities such as scheduling remote team lunches or online video get-togethers can help. Make sure you and your employees put in some “face time” with each other, especially if you have a job that does not demand many video meetings and calls. While everyone’s time is precious, scheduling a quick check-in with employees is something that most of them will welcome. Make sure to focus on how everyone is doing and listen to their concerns. You could also share updates on hobbies, interesting social media posts, shows you are binging. Depending on the personality of your team, some friendly chat-time could make them feel better.
This is a tough time for people, personally and professionally. These changes and how we deal with them can make us better, resilient business leaders.