According to a 2018 study, approximately two-thirds of full-time workers reported experiencing some level of burnout on the job. What can your organization do to prevent this problem?
The first step is recognizing what burnout looks like. Sometimes, this is not easy as symptoms may differ from one person to the next.
Signs of Burnout
- decreased performance;
- high stress levels (short tempers, fatigue);
- reduced enthusiasm and optimism;
- increased complaining;
- defensive body language (crossed arms, leaning back);
- fewer suggestions and ideas for improvement;
- less collaboration and cooperation;
- greater isolation and disconnect between employees;
- dramatic changes in individual behavior (positive to negative, vocal to quiet); or
- employee turnover
If you see several of these signs, your organization should try to identify the primary sources leading to trouble.
Causes of Burnout
- excessive and unmanageable workloads;
- tight deadlines and time constraints;
- high pressure environments;
- demanding schedules requiring long hours or 24/7 connection to work;
- extended busy periods;
- uncertainty or changes within the company;
- lack of transparency and/or poor communication;
- unfair treatment;
- unclear expectations;
- ongoing repetitive and tedious projects;
- no room for growth or challenge; and
- difficult co-workers or clients
Burnout does not resolve on its own, and it can be contagious. Managers and supervisors must actively work to address the problem! Although solutions may vary, here are some general suggestions for raising morale and reducing anxiety.
Getting Your Team Back on Track
Reinforce Your Mission
Best-selling author Simon Sinek, encourages organizations of all sizes to identify not only what they do and how they do it, but also their WHY. This is the purpose, cause or belief driving the company. Most employees want their work to matter and making a difference is a powerful motivator. During a difficult stretch, a reminder that individuals are working toward something bigger than themselves can go a long way.
Fight for Your Employees
A single manager is unlikely to overhaul an entire corporate culture. However, if you have an overworked and underpaid team, go to bat for them. Regardless of whether there is major, minor or no change at all, your actions will build loyalty and trust. Even when the odds are not in their favor, let your employees know you have their backs and you will work toward promoting long-term, positive change.
Too much demanding work without any pauses can wear anyone down. When the pressure is on, urge employees to take breaks during the workday, to use their vacation days and to unplug during off hours. Although this may seem counterintuitive, downtime can relieve stress and ultimately increase overall productivity.
Encourage Ongoing Communication
Share as much information with employees as possible and make a it a point to have heart-to-heart conversations with individuals who are less engaged. Sometimes slight changes, such as restructuring hours or reassigning duties can make a significant difference. And, you may not know unless you ask.