Gallup’s survey reveals that 76% of employees experience burnout at least sometimes.
Employee burnout is a serious concern, and every organization needs to tackle it effectively. If not addressed on time, it may lead to several consequences, including reduced productivity, depleted morale, prolonged absenteeism, and even unplanned attritions.
This article elucidates various management tips to prevent employee burnout.
Let’s first define:
What is employee burnout?
Employee burnout is a syndrome that results from prolonged periods of unmanaged workplace stress. It occurs when an employee is subject to constant physical or psychological exhaustion at their workplace.
Some prominent reasons behind it can be overwhelming workload, unfair treatment or harassment, lack of clarity around final goals, absence of adequate support, undue time pressure, and more. It can manifest itself in several forms, including feelings of irritation, cynicism, emptiness, lack of confidence, anger, depression, and so on.
Organizational signs of burnout include consistent poor work performance, disengagement at the workplace, multiple sick leaves in short duration, internal conflicts, and so on.
To prevent these repercussions, managers must take proactive steps to avoid burnout. Some of the prominent ones are enlisted below:
2. Effective ways to prevent employee burnout
As the popular adage says- prevention is better than cure; it is applicable in the case of employee burnout as well. If mitigated in time, it can help you secure the overall efficiency.
Here are some tips you can leverage:
2.1 Establish realistic deadlines
Deadlines help employees stay focused and accountable for their work and ensure a project’s success. However, at times, managers end up setting unrealistic deadlines to expedite a project’s completion. It puts the project team under undue stress and pressure, causing burnout and decreasing productivity. Therefore, managers must set realistic deadlines for every project.
To start with, they can break the project into separate phases, list out individual tasks under each one of them, and estimate the time required for each. Then, they can look at employees’ schedules and consider their inputs before giving them deadlines to complete their assignments. Referring to previous similar projects’ timelines can also help better forecast the project's completion time and tasks involved. This will help managers keep the deadlines realistic and attainable, thus reducing unnecessary work stress.
2.2 Implement flexibility in work culture
Reasons like social isolation, financial crisis, domestic issues, etc., can aggravate burnout in the prevailing pandemic era. Therefore, introducing flexibility in the work environment is imperative. Workplace flexibility empowers employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and thus, prevent burnout.
Furthermore, introducing flexible working hours can enable employees to work freely at the time they are most productive. Moreover, promoting a hybrid work culture to let employees work remotely on some days can be a good option. The management can also allow permanent remote work for certain employees on a case-to-case basis. Above all, every organization must analyze its structure and workforce’s needs to implement the most suitable work arrangement to ensure flexibility.
2.3 Appreciate and reward good performance
Failing to recognize and appreciate good work can demotivate and disengage employees and further worsen work-related stress. Hence, the management should assess employees’ performance on a regular basis and identify the individuals who walk the extra mile for the company. The management can then conduct reward and recognition programs to felicitate and reward individuals based on their level of achievements.
Offering financial rewards isn’t always the most effective method of motivating employees. Many other viable options are available. As a simple example, time off is something that is highly appreciated, especially in highly stressful work environments. You can even offer employees the option to book a day-off by themself with a holiday booking system
These rewards can vary in various forms and kinds. They can be monetary like bonuses, increments, etc., or non-monetary like small prizes, thank you cards, gift vouchers, gym memberships, and more. Acknowledging key performers can help reinstate the sense of purpose in the workforce, motivate them to work diligently, keep them engaged, and thus, prevent burnout.
2.4 Prioritize employee wellness strategies
Employee wellness takes into account both the physical and mental well-being of an individual. How effectively an organization caters to employees’ health directly determines the workforce’s engagement, satisfaction, and motivation levels. So, it is essential for the management to formulate and implement effective employee wellness strategies. A compassionate and empathetic approach can be the first step in this direction.
Employers should give a fair chance to everyone to express their concerns and issues. It will help stressed individuals vent their pent-up emotions, help you determine the root cause of their problems, and provide feasible solutions to resolve them. Besides, employee feedback surveys, team-building activities, virtual yoga classes, watercooler conversations, etc., can also help reduce burnout and contribute to overall employee wellness. Moreover, employers can conduct stress management workshops and provide free counseling to those in need to promote mental wellbeing.
2.5 Monitor workloads and act proactively to eliminate burnout
Work overload is one of the primary causes of burnout. When employees have more to accomplish than their capacity, it can lead to work pressure, mental stress, and more. So, monitoring the workforce’s workload to ensure no one is overworked is critical to prevent burnout. An advanced resource management tool can help track workload as it provides 360-degree visibility of employees’ schedules, capacity, availability, etc., and procures real-time Business Intelligence reports.
Utilization heatmaps provide a comprehensive view of everyone’s work against their capacity. If an employee is overutilized, managers can reassign the work to other employees to ensure uniform distribution of workload. Moreover, they can implement resource optimization techniques such as leveling or smoothing to mitigate this issue. All these measures help optimize the workload and prevent burnout.
2.6 Create an independent committee to address workplace harassment
Workplace harassment can be a leading cause of burnout in some cases. It can be in various forms ranging from repeated negative or demeaning criticism, unfair treatment, personal remarks, or neglecting good work intentionally, and in worse cases, sexual harassment. Harassment of any kind can hamper one’s mental wellbeing, which may further reflect in a physical ailment. It can disengage them, lower their morale, and cause chronic depression and burnout.
Hence, management must form an independent anti-harassment committee and inform everyone about it. It will assure employees that the organization is concerned about their safety and they can freely report incidences of harassment without any fear of retribution. This way, facilitating a neutral adjudication without taking any side will not only help resolve the case but also regain their trust and eliminate burnout.
Preventing employee burnout helps lay the foundation of good employer-employee relations, better productivity, and a conducive work environment. So, it is indispensable for every organization to aim for the prevention of burnout. The practices discussed above can help you effectively mitigate burnout and keep your workforce engaged and highly productive.
How do you prevent burnout at your workplace?