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dealing with employee burnout

Dealing With Employee Burnout

Posted May 13th, 2022

We’re likely all familiar with The Great Resignation and how it has affected millions of organisations globally over the last few years. With people quitting their jobs at the highest rate in decades, employers are looking for ways to tackle this talent crisis.

The term ‘The Great Resignation’ has become closely linked to the pandemic, and whilst there were undoubtedly pandemic-related factors that led to the accelerated resignation rates (such as aversion to returning to office work and individual identity shifts that led to many people re-evaluating their professional choices), the real driving force behind resignation is burnout. The pandemic led to burnout for many people, but it has been around forever, and it will not go away.

Arguably, for employers to control resignation levels and boost employee satisfaction, they must implement a long-term strategy that considers employee burnout and puts employee wellness at the centre of all business processes.

There are several reasons for employers to ensure they prioritise employee wellness, but the most significant are as follows…

Replacing employees is expensive. Recruiting, onboarding and training processes are costly, not to mention the costs of lost productivity during the time in which the position is unfilled.

High turnover rates are damaging to productivity, too many new hires can create a fractured workforce that does not work well together and does not understand the business needs well.

Satisfaction leads to productivity. Employees who feel valued in their jobs are proven to work better. A healthy environment boosts positivity, reduces sick days, retains more employees and ultimately encourages productivity and success.

What is burnout? 

So, what really is it? Burnout in the professional sense refers to a type of work-related stress that impacts an individual’s emotional, physical and mental state. In a 2020 book by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, the authors identify three main components of burnout.

  1. Emotional exhaustion and physical symptoms. When we work hard for a long time, without the correct support in place or under too much pressure, it can lead to real health issues such as insomnia, anger, anxiety, heart palpitations and more.
  1. Lack of accomplishment. When we are burnt out, everything can become futile. Feeling hopeless, lacking productivity, and performing poorly are all signs of burnout.
  1. Depletion of empathy. Burnout can cause us not to care about or enjoy our jobs in any sense and can lead to severe detachment.

What causes burnout and how can we tackle it?

To tackle burnout, we must understand what causes it. Whether a workplace environment is physical, virtual or hybrid, steps can be taken to implement long-term strategies that tackle employee burnout. These strategies should involve consideration of all the potential causes of burnout but should also take into account the specific needs of your business. Every organisation is different and should be treated as such when formulating a plan to tackle employee burnout.

As always, constant monitoring and necessary changes should be made with time!

  1. Workload. Intense workloads create extreme pressure for employees, we all have limits, and pushing those can lead to burnout.

Whilst we expect productivity from our employees, stress only causes the opposite. One way to balance this is to encourage an open dialogue and ensure regular conversations give employees the space and security to be honest about the pressures they are facing.

  1. Lack of support. This also plays into a lack of support. Support can be lacking in both the workload sense and the mental health sense. These are closely intertwined issues and one of the most important things you can do for your employees is to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing.

This means having a structure in place to support employees’ mental health, as well as curating a company culture and corporate values that endorse mental wellbeing as a priority. This can involve semi-regular check-ins, monitoring of team performance and collaboration, and access to mental health professionals.

  1. Lack of control. Inability to influence decisions that affect your own job can be frustrating. For example, an employee’s schedule, assignments, or workload. Whilst organisations cannot offer individuals control over everything, allowing employees more control over their own situation, where possible, can boost satisfaction.
  1. Lack of role. Whilst a lack of control can be stressful, lacking a clear role can lead to burnout too. When employees do not feel they have any direction or clear expectations, they cannot perform well and may feel useless or demotivated.

Key considerations?

Whilst the above issues identify some ways to tackle employee burnout, the core ideas that all solutions revolve around are…

Discussion. Open dialogue is always beneficial in the workplace.

Constructive leadership. Leaders and managers who can successfully assign tasks, manage operations, deal with team issues and so forth play a huge role in ensuring a healthy workplace. A healthy workplace increases employee satisfaction as they feel valued and supported when issues may arise, which means less chance of burnout.

Autonomy. The pandemic gave many of us a new sense of control and autonomy, and as a consequence, many professionals are seeking post-pandemic positions which allow them a sense of control. Offering them some flexibility can encourage productivity, engagement and reduce burnout.

Growth opportunities. When we feel at a dead end, our job responsibilities can become more taxing. We may question why we’re bothering. Upskilling your workforce improves employee retention.

By providing your employees with development opportunities, you are showing them that you value their careers and futures. Employees are also able to see the path to career advancement in front of them, which further boosts morale (and in turn productivity).

Ultimately, we will never be able to avoid stress in our organisation, it comes with every job, and we all experience it if we care about what we do. That said, by placing value on employee welfare and monitoring performance we can take actions to ensure employees feel satisfied, valued and supported. Not only do employers have a moral obligation to support employee welfare, but it also serves everyone’s interest to do so.

When the best employees experience burnout, they are more likely to stop performing well or even walk away, by valuing their wellbeing, the business stands to gain.

Trainer Bubble offers a variety of resources to assist you in supporting your employees. Whether it is training your managers in wellness, teaching communication techniques that help foster healthy environments or offering opportunities for general upskilling, check out our extensive range of e-learning courses and classroom materials to see what we can offer your business. Contact us here to find out more about how we can help you.​

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