In a competitive marketplace, businesses depend on high levels of productivity from their employees. There are orders to fill and deadlines to meet. However, your employees are human beings who can only work at a fast pace for so long. If the demands of the workplace become overwhelming, your staff will begin to show the signs of employee burnout.
The Consequences of Employee Burnout
Burnout is bad for your employees’ health and your business’s well-being. Some early signs of burnout include lowered enthusiasm and poor job performance. As things get worse, you will start to see an increased number of sick days, late arrivals, and attempts to leave the workplace early. Chronic burnout can lead to increased employee turnover as workers look to make a change. All of these symptoms will impact the productivity of your workforce.
Avoiding Employee Burnout
In many ways, your employees live in a culture that encourages stress and burnout. Many people have learned that the solution to their problems rests in hard work. Their job makes up a big part of their identity, and they may overextend themselves to find success. To avoid burnout in the workplace, it will require intentional choices from management to create a calmer atmosphere.
Clear Organization and Communication
Great organization can be vital in cultivating productivity while minimizing burnout. It is confusing for employees when the levels of organization and the lines of communication are not precise. A good deal of time is lost trying to confirm instructions or get necessary information from other team members. With a well-planned structure, there is more time for focused work and less stress around looming deadlines.
In addition, if there is a lack of clear-cut processes and procedures, then everyone may be trying to solve the same problems in different ways, which can lead to confusion and wasted time and energy. If there is a sticking point or a common area of pain for employees, a new or updated process might be the best solution to solve the problem across the whole organization. While having too many processes in place can lead to a feeling of micromanagement, having the right amount of organization can help to ease the burden of individual employees and increase communication and efficiency.
Reasonable Expectations and Well-Explained Goals
Uncertainty is a large source of burnout. When employees do not understand their tasks and goals, there are two common reactions. On the one hand, some employees dive headfirst into what they think they need to do, sometimes guessing at what is actually expected. If they guess correctly, it is excellent. If they guess wrong, it is lost time and wasted effort. Other employees become paralyzed with indecision. They will find ways to avoid starting tasks to keep from making a mistake, which can lead to missed deadlines.
Managers are responsible for being clear about what is expected and when. Not only is this true in the day-to-day activities and within specific projects, but it should also be clear what is expected from employees as a whole, and what they will be getting out of it. Ambiguity around the potential career path of each employee can be discouraging. Employees are much more likely to feel like they are being taken care of if they understand what can be gained and what opportunities await if they perform as expected.
Intentional Stress Reduction Practices
To prevent burnout, you can work at creating a workplace with less stress. If you are looking for creativity from your team, have a space that is more relaxed than a formal meeting room. Encourage your people to go outside during breaks, move around, and get some fresh air. You might also seek to be more flexible in scheduling, allowing people to do some of their work from home rather than coming into the office every day.
Curing Employee Burnout
Once you see the signs of burnout, you need to respond quickly. It may be time to think about a company retreat or some other event that allows your team to blow off steam. There are also regular practices you can incorporate to turn things around.
Encourage Vacation Days
Many people who are dealing with employee burnout need a break. Ironically, these are often the people who are the least likely to take a vacation day. Sometimes, employees can get so focused on saving their days that they neglect to use them. Encourage your staff to take at least one day off each month to relax and catch up on their lives outside of the office.
Feeling unappreciated is another major source of burnout. If salaries are too low, employees may feel like the work is not worth the effort. Bonus days off or financial bonuses for meeting goals can give tired employees a stronger reason to be productive. Individual bonuses show that management is paying attention to their efforts.
Acknowledge Project Completion
When you have a team working on a project, there will often be a race to the finish. If you use an Agile style of organization with intense sprint periods, you are demanding a large effort from your staff. Take the time to celebrate when the project is completed. Give everyone a moment to breathe before they get their next assignment.
Nobody benefits when your employees dread coming to the office. As management, it is up to you to develop a calmer workplace. You can prevent employee burnout and create a positive work environment.