Everyone gets stressed at work once in a while. But when that stress mounts up for an extended amount of time, it becomes a gateway to employee burnout.
Burnout can manifest itself in a variety of ways in your workforce. Some signs that an employee may be experiencing the physical and emotional strain of burnout include:
- Unexplained absences from work
- Showing up to work late/leaving early
- Decrease in productivity
- Apparent frustration
- Decline in health
When an employee experiences burnout for one reason or another for an extended period of time, it often leads to leaving the organization for another opportunity.
But employee burnout isn’t something you just have to live with. Burnout is not just part of being an employee in the 21st century. As a leader in your organization, there are ways you can help burned out employees to not only lessen their burden but retain them in the workforce. In this article, we will explore six tips you can follow to help burned out employees and reduce costly turnover.
1. Offer Rewards for No Reason At All
Many employers think that offering an incentive for employees will motivate them to work harder and be more productive. While people like incentives, continued pressure to work even harder can often be a contributing factor to burnout.
While these types of incentives have their place, they shouldn’t be the only way an employee is rewarded. Whether it’s a gift card, extra break time, the chance to leave early, or snacks in the breakroom, these types of rewards just for being part of the team can help motivate employees a lot and make them feel appreciated and understood.
2. Remember Off-Duty Obligations
As a leader, you probably have a good idea of how to honor the time of your employees by now. But ask yourself: How often do you honor the time they spend outside of their work hours?
Many employees have family obligations, second jobs, or take on freelance work to make ends meet. While the other work should never conflict or interfere with what you pay your employee to do, be considerate of the juggling they may be doing that might lead to feelings of depression, hopelessness, and weariness.
3. Avoid Excessive Communication
Collaboration and communication are important for the success of any company. However, there are times when it can take on a life of its own. When extra meetings are called or excessive emails pop up in the inbox, it stops being helpful and starts interfering with the daily operations of the company and its employees. Constant communication takes a lot of emotional energy and mental space which leads to burnout in your employees.
Pare down all meetings and communications to ensure they aren’t interfering with why everyone is working in the first place. This will create a new culture where all communication has an important purpose and still prioritizes the company’s end goals.
4. Give Employees a Voice
Checking in with employees and asking them to voice their frustrations or problems of practice is a helpful way to prevent or manage burnout. When employees feel like they don’t have control over their circumstances or that they aren’t being heard, they begin to feel they are powerless in their situation.
As a leader, conduct informal check-ins and welcome open-door conversations to give employees the opportunity and the comfort to share. When employees communicate, really listen even if your knee-jerk reaction is to get defensive. Hear them out - employees understand their own needs better than anyone.
5. Encourage Stress Relievers
One way to motivate employees and lessen stress is to encourage them to find ways in their day to relieve stress themselves. Let them listen to music while they work, be flexible in work hours when possible, allow casual dress either regularly or on designated days, and allow employees to work remotely when appropriate.
Showing them you trust them to perform their duties even if they’re wearing jeans or listening to airpods will go a long way in showing them you care about their wellbeing and happiness in the office.
6. Make Mental Health a Priority
Normalize taking care of mental health as one would physical health. There are many ways you can show your employees that their mental health is just as important. Some ways you can do this include:
- Incorporate brain breaks in the day. If an employee needs to take a 5 minutes break to breathe and get away from the desk, don’t make them feel like they’re just messing around on company time.
- Establish and promote a solid Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that includes mental health counseling, financial counseling, addiction counseling and other services that will help them with stress they are bringing into the workplace.
While employee burnout is common in the workplace, with a good leadership team who sees the entire picture of an employee’s life, burnout can be treated and avoided. Making unrealistic productivity goals a priority over the wellbeing of employees will not only hurt the people who make up the company but the company as a whole.