When your employees are experiencing burnout on the job, it’s not just a problem for them — it has the potential to negatively affect your entire business. To promote your business’s success and protect the well-being of your workers, it’s vital to recognize the key signs of burnout and know how to address them. Even more importantly, your company should also consider strategies and policies to keep burnout from occurring in the first place.
The signs, causes, and costs of employee burnout
Employee burnout is a state of overwhelming stress and dissatisfaction in the workplace. Signs of burnout include total exhaustion (physical, mental, and emotional), a feeling of detachment and cynicism toward work, and a significant decrease in productivity and motivation.
There are many potential causes of burnout, and they can vary from worker to worker. Business News Daily writer Kiely Kuligowski identifies excessive workloads, constant pressure, bad communication, vague expectations, and unfairness as common culprits. Off-the-job problems can play a role, too.
The consequences of burnout can be severe for your business as well as for the individuals affected. If underlying issues across the company aren’t addressed, your productivity could plummet, employee turnover could intensify, and health costs could skyrocket.
How to alleviate employee burnout
If you notice that an employee is exhibiting signs of burnout, there are several immediate steps you can take. Communication is key. Talk with the employee one-on-one to learn more about what’s going on, genuinely listening to feedback. Offering to relieve or rebalance an overwhelming workload, clarifying expectations, setting new goals, and improving recognition for good work can help to alleviate burnout. You may also need to connect the employee with mental health resources in the workplace or ensure that they take advantage of vacation or sick time.
How to prevent employee burnout
Along with addressing issues at an individual level, it’s vital for your company to create a culture that takes burnout seriously and takes steps to keep it from happening.
Skye Schooley of Business.com notes offering flexible work schedules and remote days can reduce stress by helping employees take more control of their lives and their time. Providing adequate time off is important, too — but it needs to be accompanied by company leadership that emphasizes the importance of rest, sets boundaries around days off, and avoids penalizing employees for using vacation days, sick days, and mental health days.
In addition, Schooley points out it’s wise to give employees built-in ways to communicate with leadership, empower themselves, and make themselves heard — helping to head off burnout before it becomes a problem. At the day-to-day level, a commitment to fair treatment, reasonable workloads, clear expectations, and options for learning and advancement can combat burnout as well. And don’t forget fun — while parties, free food, and other perks won’t make up for poor workplace culture, they can certainly contribute to a more positive one.
Left unchecked, employee burnout can wreak havoc on individuals and businesses alike. Fortunately, it’s possible for your company to mitigate the damage — and to cultivate a workplace where burnout is averted with planning, preparation, and a commitment to healthy company culture.