Updated June 22, 2022
Employee burnout is currently one of the leading causes of high turnover rates. Yet, only a few employers are actually doing something about it. Shocking, right? Well, not really. There are plenty of examples of employees feeling the overwhelming burden of workplace burnout, which is cause for some companies to reflect not only on the warning signs, but helpful solutions and prevention.
So, no matter how big or small, companies need to realize that their efforts of finding top talent can be a massive waste of time and money if their new employees leave after two months because of a stressful work environment. This is why companies eager to preserve sustainable productivity and engagement have employee wellness at the forefront of their business goals.
Employee burnout is a particular type of work-related stress, usually defined as a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can be a response to exposure from different stressors and is mainly characterized by a persistent feeling of fatigue, cynicism, and inefficacy.
A few years ago the World Health Organization recognized burnout in the workplace as an occupational phenomenon and defined it as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”
When it comes to burnout in the workplace, it’s essential to take action at the first sight of any symptoms. You can identify some warning signs by paying attention to suspicious behavior or changes you or your workers may be experiencing. Here are some of the most common signs of employee burnout:
Over the last couple of years, job burnout symptoms have become more common. According to research by Flexjobs, 75% of workers have experienced burnout in their work, 40% specifically during the pandemic. What makes burnout statistics more worrying is that nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization.
Working from home is another reason why people tend to feel mentally exhausted and more easily overwhelmed. Research from Indeed found that 61% of remote workers find it more difficult to unplug from work responsibilities during off-hours. In comparison, 67% of the workforce believe that employee burnout has worsened since the pandemic, which was the starting point for many companies to reduce on-site workers and implement remote work.
Surely, if you are one of those few bosses that are committed to building a well-balanced company culture, then you have probably found some trendy strategies and practices, some of which may seem overly complicated or too challenging to keep up in the long run. But, the thing is, preventing burnout doesn’t have to be complicated at all.
Transformative changes start with small actions. If you want to nurture a healthy work environment, here are some fun and easy practices that any leader can test out with their team to reduce stress and beat burnout statistics.
Seriously, there are companies where employees feel like their paychecks might suffer if it looks like they are having fun and enjoying their time at work. While it is true that having a “company clown” could disrupt a productive environment, the upside to humor is that the rest of your workforce can grow, be creative, and come up with new ideas in a sour environment. Allowing light-hearted (and respectful) humor in the team’s dynamic can help defuse tension and reduce a good deal of workplace stress.
With the recent pandemic, many practices were questioned as the world adapted to a digital and remote work environment. Keeping strict schedules was one of them. For many employees having mini breaks or just a one-hour lunch break during an 8-hour shift wasn’t enough to reduce stress or even boost productivity.
A common belief among some employers is that workers’ peak productivity hours are easily managed on-site and with a set schedule; remote work has proven that in some cases this is a mistaken assumption. Working from home allowed a big part of the workforce to best identify the time when they’re most productive.
A portion of your employees may be working more efficiently during the evening or at times outside their normal work schedule. If you have a highly committed team, consider letting them set their work hours, that way they can get the best out of their time and productivity.
The lack of recognition or job fulfillment in a high-performing environment is a major burnout breeder. You don’t have to create your own Office Oscars or simply stick to the “Employee of the month” board in the coffee room. Recognition should be a part of your daily company culture.
It may not always be about productivity or numbers. How about giving a shoutout to whoever figured out how to download a query from the new database? Simply saying “Thank you” can go a long way. If you recognize a team member for their great attitude or teamwork, they’ll be most likely to keep up those good values.
Play some Monopoly or any other board game or activity that encourages interaction beyond work-related chit-chat. It could be beneficial to give your employees an hour at the end of the week to hang out and have fun. You could have bi-weekly trivia tournaments or place a person/department in charge of organizing the next Friday hangout. This also promotes soft skills, like communication and planning, among your team without making it stressful.
Have you seen your employees’ expressions when you announce a Monday review meeting? You are not wrong to have those, of course, but you can also use meetings to learn more about your team and give them a space to voice out their ideas and concerns. Even in meetings, team building exercises can help create spaces essential for letting your workforce renew their energy and motivation.
Companies and managers can and should acknowledge burnout in the workplace. Taking action at the right time will help employees address if their stress and workload are becoming unmanageable. Enabling your workers to designate time to replenish and strengthen their recovery resources is an essential aspect of making workers feel part of a healthy work environment. If you struggle to find or suggest “well-being drivers” to support stressed employees, here are some recommendations:
Burnout syndrome is something that many people on your team may be suffering from right now. The fact is that many of them don’t even realize it, and those who do, don’t want to talk about it. So, in addition to steering your definition of growth away from just productivity, start applying some of these strategies to bring back some balance and nurture a more attractive work culture for top talent.
Contributed by Monica Martín del Campo & Luis Arellano
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