How To Identify And Prevent Employee Burnout At Work |

How to Tackle Employee Burnout Successfully

Posted by Jill Goodwin

Employees from every sector have struggled to balance the high stress of work and home life and the added pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic have made it harder. 

Defined by the World Health Organization as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”, burnout is the consequence of prioritizing work over personal health. 

Able to manifest in a wide variety of ways, burnout is becoming a growing concern amongst business leaders and employees alike. The fatigue, anxiety, and general lack of productivity that comes alongside burnout have the potential to cause havoc in any business. No matter how big or small. 

80% of respondents to a survey in 2021 claimed that they have experienced burnout to some extent since Covid-19 first emerged. But with so many environmental instigators for burnout still present on the global horizon, what can people do to alleviate the pressures of this condition? 

In a world where user experience and consumers often take priority over those that provide them with services, it’s no wonder that burnout is spreading far and wide. 

Why is employee burnout a problem? 

Not only does employee burnout negatively impact work productivity and output, but it can trigger the development of serious mental and physical health problems. 

  1. Burnout depends on pre-existing conditions. The exact symptoms of burnout that an employee may experience will depend on their pre-existing state of mental and physical health. But even those with a reputation for bounce-back can suffer at the hands of this global health issue. 
  2. Burnout affects energy levels. Burnout is a problem because without sufficient energy levels, employees are unable to perform at optimal capacity. This leads to issues for both their personal and professional lives. In turn, this directly impacts the successes of the business they work for. 

Without happy, focused, and productive employees, the world’s systems cannot deliver solutions the way they’re designed to. Businesses cannot operate at full capacity, and global systems may start to weaken on a foundational level. 

What’s more, all employees are humans with lives that require their input and energy. Children need looking after, mortgages need to get paid off, and time to relax and unwind must get set aside for personal well-being. However, staying on top of all these things at once is difficult when facing burnout. 

How do you fix burnout at work?

Fortunately, the magnitude of this problem has given rise to the development of practical solutions. The merging of digital workplaces and enterprises has allowed employees to have more control over their environment. And this should be to their advantage. 

Even though most of the strategies for relieving burnout are inherently structural, those working from remote locations can take this opportunity to set healthy boundaries between themselves and their project commitments. 

Imposing reasonable limitations on communication (both digital and physical) can alleviate some pressures, as well as scheduling time into your day specifically for unwinding. Regulating a healthy sleeping pattern, spending time with loved ones, and pursuing hobbies outside of work also helps. 

Better Allocate Time with Friday (And Help with Burnout)

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  1. Provide a central place for company resources in a tool employees like using
  2. Start regular async check-ins with employees (instead of forced Zoom meetings)
  3. Get tasks and meetings in one view for better balance
  4. Set focus time to block distractions
  5. Use Posts for more discussion and lower the constant ping of workplace chat apps

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How do you know if you or your employees are burned out?

There are many ways burnout gets experienced. However, what ties it all together is the exhaustion of the body and mind. You might be burnt out if the following symptoms are relatable: 

  • Depression
  • High stress and anxiety levels 
  • Detachment from reality
  • Loss of motivation 
  • Inability to focus 
  • Fatigue (emotional, mental, and physical)
  • High blood pressure 
  • Irritability
  • Weakened immunity 

Some additional consequences of burnout are insomnia, headaches, dietary shifts, and muscle tension. All of these symptoms indicate a high level of stress that the body is unable to sustain without proper rest and wellness practices. 

Which profession has the highest burnout rate?

Just about every profession is susceptible to the consequences of burnout. But there are some that tend to exhibit a higher percentage than others. Teachers, nurses, physicians, and attorneys currently outrank other lines of work in terms of burnout rates. 

How do you recognize employee burnout?

Employee burnout can be difficult to recognize, especially from a remote perspective. Using a digital workplace platform means relinquishing the ability to communicate face-to-face, which makes the process of open communication a little more complicated. 

However, businesses can identify burnout by frequently engaging in team discussions about wellness, and encouraging employees to come forward about any issues they may be experiencing. A low productivity output, irritability, and lack of motivation are also clear indicators of burnout. 

Is it normal to feel burned out at work?

Yes, it’s completely normal to feel burned out at work sometimes. The world is currently seeing a huge uptick in employee burnout levels, and many people are experiencing difficulties with mental and physical health.

It’s important to keep tabs on yourself regarding the state of your body and mind. If you’re not performing at the level you are normally capable of, consider what parts of your life you can rearrange for a better distribution of energy. 

How long does burnout last for? 

Burnout is not like a common cold. There is no set trajectory of stages, and no timeframe within which you can expect it to dissipate. Burnout can remain an issue for as long as its triggers are present. Healthier lifestyles and habitual changes are the only things capable of curing this problem. 

How do you help an employee who is burned out?

Even though all employees are different people with varying degrees of burnout severity, there are some tactics employers can use to help those in need of support. Some of them include: 

  • Provide confidential spaces to discuss personal wellness
  • Be open to individualized work schedules 
  • Give positive reinforcement 
  • Ensure deadlines and workloads are not unreasonable 
  • Take admissions of burnout seriously 
  • Encourage self-care 
  • Learn to identify common symptoms of burnout 

After providing the right environment for employees to cope with burnout, the rest is up to the individual. Striking a home-work balance is a lifelong journey that requires both internal and external input. They know what is best for them, all you can do as their employer is support them. 

How do you treat burnout?

There are many simple ways to treat burnout, including good goal setting. Gallup says that, “employees need to have clear, meaningful goals that are within their power to attain, and they should have a positive, comfortable work environment. When people are surrounded by a supportive manager, team and environment that meet their needs, their engagement soars, and they naturally flourish and perform well over the long term.”

Things like proper rest, a healthy diet, exercise, time in nature or spending time with loved ones are some of the most effective ways to deal with this common problem. 

However, there are many work-related factors that also come into play. A reasonable workload, tasks with purpose, and a network of supportive colleagues are all powerful ways to reduce burnout. The 

Can an employer overwork you?

Unfortunately, many employers overwork their employees. 32% of burnout cases are from overworking, and a further 32% from working overtime. These figures indicate that employers are playing a significant role in employee burnout. 

What can managers do to prevent burnout?

Managers and supervisors need to take active measures to prevent burnout. After all, mountains of research indicate that for better or worse, no one has more influence over employee burnout than direct managers and supervisors. 

1. Include wellness in company culture 

The employee experience will be much healthier if leaders create a workplace structure that is inherently supportive of mental and physical wellness. 

That means monitoring workloads, recognizing the signs of overworking, offering access to a digital workplace platform, and encouraging the systemic prioritization of well-being. 

2. Respect employee limitations 

The employees that are brave enough to lay down healthy workplace boundaries should have the respect of their teams and superiors. Within reason, all employees should have the freedom to take mental or physical health days when needed. Without feeling guilty or at risk of getting fired. 

3. Ask employees for feedback 

One of the fastest routes to employee engagement is proper communication between upper and lower level workers. Workplace superiors who always assume they know best will miss out on important information about employee health. Asking for feedback can change that. 

4. Provide tools for coping with burnout 

When it comes to prioritizing wellness, employees need more than just a verbal commitment. Providing them with practical tools for mental and physical support will show empathy for their struggles and allow for tangible progress. 

Even from a remote perspective, managers can provide tools that assist in reducing burnout. Providing burnout recovery time, organizing social activities, and frequently checking in with employees are all ways for managers to express their authentic support. 

Stopping the burnout trend

The digital landscape that the world is currently working within makes employee engagement a challenge. Through the lens of a device, the digital employee experience can become more complicated. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to regain physical and psychological security. 

The social enterprise of regulating human emotions and well-being in the midst of a pandemic can be a struggle. However, with enough dedication to creating a healthy workplace culture, anything is possible. Burnout is avoidable, it just needs the right approach to stop it before it starts. 

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