The pandemic has highlighted the issue of employee burnout. But the risk to well-being in the workplace was there before and will persist unless it’s recognized and addressed.
Signs of burnout
Burnout can manifest itself in different ways. It might start with employees losing motivation and enthusiasm for their job. They feel isolated, detached, and alienated from their work, colleagues, and the organization. Burnout is reflected in increased mistakes, inattention to detail, and poor decision-making. This negatively affects performance and productivity.
Employees with burnout suffer physical effects like fatigue and loss of appetite and are more susceptible to illness. They report feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s very hard to bounce back from burnout, so employees are likely to require extended sick leave.
The key to tackling burnout then is prevention. Recognize warning signs early and address root causes, and not just treat symptoms. It means raising awareness of the issue across the organization and putting in place measures and supports.
10 ways to prevent employee burnout
- Develop a culture of emotion: Emotions play a crucial role in triggering burnout, but it’s often regarded as inappropriate to reveal your feelings in the workplace. Embracing a culture of emotion means encouraging people to feel comfortable expressing their concerns and sharing them with others. Acknowledging the feelings of others and having the procedures and processes in place to address them helps reduce the chances of burnout developing.
- Show leadership: Leaders have a key role in promoting and supporting well-being in the organization. They can set an example by engaging in behaviors that demonstrate concern for their own physical and mental health. This includes adhering to a healthy culture of working reasonable working hours, taking regular breaks and annual leave, and paying attention to others. Combine these actions with a style of leadership that prioritizes dialogue and empathy.
- Practice active listening: Addressing burnout means not only encouraging people to discuss their feelings but listening to them – actively. Pay proper attention to what the person is saying and be fully present in the conversation. You need to reflect on what has been said and respond in an honest, candid way by treating the person as you would expect to be treated if you were in their shoes.
- Develop emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be taught and becomes stronger with use. It helps you recognize the signs of potential burnout by giving you greater awareness of emotional turbulence and distress. Practising emotional intelligence can be as simple and effective as regularly and sincerely asking people how they are doing.
- Set workload limits: One of the causes of burnout is a feeling of being overwhelmed with work. Address this by making sure you’re aware of individuals’ workload. Make transparent what you expect in terms of performance and objectives from each team member and then follow up to make sure your expectations are reasonable and consistent. Also, look at the ways technology can reduce workload through automation and make processes and tasks more efficient.
- Give employees more control: Empowering employees to exercise greater control and responsibility in their performance and development improves their motivation. Elicit feedback on what’s working for them and what isn’t and then respond. Encourage them to be creative and innovative in the way they work and share their insights, knowledge, and expertise with others. More control and engagement help develop a sense of belonging and effectiveness and prevent isolation and alienation.
- Ditch the 9 to 5: The pandemic has forced us to reconsider working hours and reevaluate the work-life balance. Digital technology allows us to work from virtually any location at any time. Give employees more control over their lives by allowing flexible work schedules with core working hours. Provide access to resources online to support working from home and other remote working options.
- Offer training: There are many online courses that cover well-being for individuals and well-being policies for organizations. Recommend resources like mindfulness apps and encourage their usage at work. Offer reskilling and upskilling opportunities to demonstrate the organization’s investment in employees’ development and give employees the chance to focus on personal advancement.
- Be fair: Employees need to feel they are treated fairly. Resentment sours people’s relationships with an organization. Make sure no one is overlooked and development opportunities are shared equally.
- Establish a learning culture: Underpin the measures to combat burnout with the positive advantages of continuous learning. Surveys reveal that organizations prioritizing learning are seen as better places to work. A culture that offers and rewards learning (with awards and career advancement) boosts employee morale and general well-being.
The steps you take to prevent burnout bring other benefits. These include more innovation, better employee retention and engagement, and enhanced performance in a happier, healthier workplace.
Get in touch to find out how Learning Pool can help your organization ensure they are taking care of their employees’ well-being.
Chris has over 15 years of experience in marketing and previously worked at Tourism Ireland, Lucid Interactive and one of Ireland’s fastest-growing companies, eDesk.
Chris has extensive experience in SEO, content marketing, paid media and growth marketing within SaaS organisations. He has completed his CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing.
After graduating from Queen’s University Belfast, Chris spent a year travelling around the world visiting Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America.
Outside of work, Chris enjoys travelling, live music and watching/playing football. He is also kept very busy with his one-year-old daughter, Cara.