Employee burnout is a managerial issue that you need to address as soon as you see the signs. While stressors are expected in the workplace. While some can be dealt with, chronic occupational stress (when not resolved) can trigger adverse effects to your employees’ physical health, cognitive ability, and emotional stability, affecting their work productivity.
Considering that the World Health Organization (WHO) provided a broader definition of burnout as an occupational phenomenon, business managers should acknowledge not only its prevalence but the misconceptions surrounding it. Without a thorough understanding of this issue, you may not be able to recognize it when it happens or manage it before it gets worse.
Watch out for these mistakes, so you don’t make them yourself as you try to help your employees overcome work burnout.
Failing to Educate Your Employees
It can be a costly mistake not to invest time in educating your employees about this workplace issue. As manager, you should take the lead in organizing activities where everyone in your organization can sit down and talk about burnout. The goal is to discuss what work burnout looks like and share what the company is doing about it. Make your campaign against work burnout a year-long company initiative instead of a one-time event. This way, you get to send the message that you are serious in modeling and reinforcing a company culture where there is no place for a toxic or hostile work environment.
Ignoring the Signs
Employee burnout is usually characterized by these factors: feelings of exhaustion, a negative, cynical, or distanced view about work, and reduced productivity. The moment you sense that employees are experiencing these signs of burnout, you have to step in and help your employees process their situation. Use active listening and empathize with the concerned staff to make them feel you value and understand them. In turn, they’ll be more open to talk about their struggles in the workplace and work out a solution that can help improve team workflow across the organization.
Downplaying the Importance of Communication
Employees who are burnt out can cope better if they are given the chance to speak up and voice out their concerns. Encourage your staff to communicate their thoughts with you in whatever manner they’re comfortable in—whether it’s in a face-to-face meeting, an email exchange, or some other form of feedback system. Needless to mention, you have to keep your conversations private and confidential as doing the opposite doesn’t conform to legal practices in labor.
Thinking Short Term
In managing work burnout, it’s more practical and logical to think of long-term solutions rather than short-term ones. To think long term, you need to help your employees set goals and think of ways to motivate them.
Perhaps the underachiever in your company needs direct and individual supervision, while the overachiever would be happier to work with colleagues who work at or near the same level of competence that they have instead of having to always look out for the lesser performers in the team.
Once you determine what can make employees happy, be ready to take them up with management and start implementing the plan. In no time, you’ll be seeing lower rates of employee turnover, missed deadlines, tardiness and absenteeism, and poor customer feedback, among other metrics.
Not Keeping Tabs On Workplace Culture
Since burnout is more work-related and not applicable to other areas in life according to the WHO, it makes perfect sense to ensure that your office culture is one that promotes mental and emotional health.
There are several ways that you can help prevent your workplace culture from becoming a breeding ground for burnout among employees. Here are some ideas:
- Do away with time pressure or quotas. Consider shifting the focus from quantity to quality when measuring performance efficiency.
- Evaluate your multi-tasking policy. If your employees are constantly wearing multiple hats, they’ll run out of energy soon enough, leading to exhaustion and, eventually, burnout.
- Establish buffer zones. This is most suitable for employees working as customer service reps. It is your responsibility as manager to ensure that your employees are not subjected to unreasonable demands from aggressive or irate customers, which can only worsen your employees’ burnout struggles.
Burnout can affect everyone in your team, from overachieving to underachieving employees and customer-facing staff to the creative minds in the company. Before employee burnout even becomes an issue you have to deal with, it would be best to establish a company culture where your employees feel happy, appreciated, and rewarded.
Regina del Rosario is from Booth & Partners – a boutique outsourcing company based in Manila. With a solid management, HR and recruitment background, she has hired over 100 applicants for positions in dozens of industries and campaigns, at levels ranging from interns to upper-level management.
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