Employee Burnout: Signs, Causes and Strategies

Estimated read time 11 min read

Employee burnout can be a serious problem. You may think that burnout only occurs in the worst of workplaces. But you would be wrong.

The experience and emotions of an employee are more important than the work environment or amount of work. Employee burnout is a result of emotional and mental exhaustion. This can be triggered by more than a toxic workplace or a heavy workload.

What is employee burnout?

According to the World Health Organization, employee burnout is caused by three factors:

  • Feelings like you’re running out of energy or are exhausted.
  • Growing distance or negative feelings toward a job.
  • Reduced efficiency or productivity of professionals.

Employee burnout: How common is it?

Gallup survey revealed that 23% of employees feel burned out frequently or always, while 44% feel burned out occasionally. Add up all the numbers and you’ll find that 70% of your staff are struggling with this problem!

What to do if you suspect employee burnout at your workplace

Burnout can be identified by poor performance at work, an increase in absenteeism and a negative feedback from customers.

It’s important to pay attention if your employees feel like they are out of control, or that their work is not appreciated. If there is no team spirit or goal, such as when some employees work harder than others or are unfairly treated by other employees, burnout will occur.

Understand the impact of employee burnout in your business

Burnout is a problem that affects your entire business. The fallout from unhappy employees and an increase in turnover is something you have to deal. Your primary concern should be the safety and health of your employees, but you must also consider that employee burnout can have a direct impact on your customers’ experience.

Employee burnout is estimated to cost between $125 and $190 billion in healthcare costs each year. Employees who are burnt out may be more likely to take time off, quit their job or provide less than ideal service to clients.

While you spend more money replacing workers who leave, and updating the schedule constantly to deal with increased absenteeism your customers may receive worse service and not return.

Article related to: Employee burnout is harmful for your business

What can you to do help your employees avoid burnout?

Seven ways to prevent burnout in the workplace

1. Take mental health seriously

Mental health issues are more and more prevalent in the media, and we often see the shocking results of people whose mental well-being has been neglected and degraded.

Mental health is a serious issue for employers.

Although it’s against the law for employers to penalize their employees based on mental health, or act outside of certain boundaries, this doesn’t prevent a person being cautious about being honest. How many employees will honestly answer their employer’s tough questions about mental health when confronted directly? It’s especially true if the questions are asked in the context a performance evaluation.

You can keep the mental health of employees a top priority in several ways , without being intrusive:

  • Use an emotional ratings system. Use a rating system. Some employees may find it easier to rate something (e.g. You can use a rating scale, anonymous or not to assess the emotional and mental state of your employees. You can use the results to determine where you need improvement or assistance.
  • Avoid legal problems or uncomfortable situations by talking about mental illness to a large group of people, rather than to a single person.
  • Keep your conversations private and confidential. You may find that some employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health with you. So long as you do not break any laws this is okay. Always keep your conversations confidential. You will spread the word that your office does not guarantee confidentiality if you talk to someone else.
  • Teach employees to maintain a healthy mental state. There are probably other meetings or training sessions that you have scheduled. Mental health is just as important. Teach employees to deal with work and personal issues, to cope with stress and other mental topics. Invite mental health professionals to your team and offer them confidential consultations.
  • You can learn how to identify mental health problems. Although you cannot be expected to act as a mental healthcare professional or read minds, you can still learn to recognize some of these issues. Managers need to be taught what signs they should look out for when assessing employees.

All of these can be devastating for the employee as well as the workplace. Employee burnout and mental health are directly related.

2. Employee burnout can be reduced by offering rewards

Different rewards are available for different reasons.

Most of the time, we think of them in terms of a carrot and a stick. We want to motivate our employees by dangling valuable incentives before them.

It sounds logical but there are two important things to remember about this approach.

  • The reward can only be used so long before it ceases to motivate.
  • Burnout can result from the pressure to keep working harder in order to get a reward.

These rewards have their place. But if you base all your perks and incentives on performance, then it will lead to employee burnout.

People should be rewarded for their efforts, not only what they can achieve.

It doesn’t matter if it is a gift certificate, an extra break, paid vacation time, picking up the work at the end of the shift or you taking over the last few minutes so that they can leave earlier, or a delicious snack in the breakroom, showing someone they are valued, even if they didn’t create monetary value, goes a long way.

It is a world where your employees begin to question their value. The employees have to earn and climb the ladder, or else they are not important. It’s like a rat in a wheel. You can teach them a new way of life by rewarding them with genuine, heartfelt gestures.

3. Avoid punitive knee-jerk responses

Imagine you have a worker who is experiencing burnout. Some employees are not comfortable telling you what is going on, whether it’s because of your management style, workplace culture, or the reaction other employees received. Or, they may be unaware of their own feelings.

They are trying to tell you something is wrong passively or in a subtle way. You may think that side comments are evidence of disrespect or insubordination. They may be starting to finish their work late, or seem cold or down towards you.

Ask yourself these questions before you go out and buy public stocks:

  • Does this employee behave like this?
  • Is this person usually reliable and high-performing?
  • Is this out of character for you?

It’s not good enough if the employee is a complainer and has complained about everything since they started working for you. If they have been a great worker and the cracks are beginning to show, this needs to be considered when determining what is going on.

Avoid punitive measures

Bandaging the wounds is not a way to re-injure them.

Speak to the employee in private. Listen instead if you are a person who responds quickly. Let the employee speak and control your facial expressions. Listen to what the employee has to say, not to form a counter-response. Instead, listen and take it seriously. Do not take it personally. Be willing to change your expectations of the employee to prevent this from happening again.

4. Schedule your events with caution.

It’s understandable that you have to run a business and satisfy customers. It’s very easy to make that the main consideration and create conditions where employees are burned out.

Perhaps you should reconsider your approach. Schedule shifts in a relaxed manner.

Communication is key. If you don’t communicate early enough, employees will be burdened with last-minute stress each week. Stress adds up. Burnout is caused by last-minute requests and changes.

5. Consider the employee’s off-hour obligations

You know how important it is to respect and value your employees’ personal lives and their time. You’ve probably been taught this over the years.

Consider this: Do you value other tasks that the employee does for you, but you don’t?

Your employees may be working at another job. Maybe they freelance to help them make ends meet. You may not be able to afford a salary that they can live on, or you might only have them working part-time. You probably have workers who are always working for someone else, even if that isn’t your company.

Be considerate. The other work shouldn’t conflict with or interfere in what you pay your employee to do. However, juggling multiple tasks to make ends meets can lead to depression, hopelessness and fatigue.

Speak to your employee. Ask them how you can help. Tell them what you want, but also what you don’t expect.

6. All can play goals

Some jobs offer employees the opportunity to move up to a more senior position. Some jobs have no chance of advancement. This job is it, unless someone else takes over.

There is no way to promote every employee in the traditional sense. However, it is possible to set goals that will satisfy this need for a purpose to work.

Create goals for your staff. These may include the following:

  • Financial goals. Everyone could use a little extra money. At the very least, give employees regular raises that are realistic. It gives employees a chance to get a pay increase.
  • Experiential Training Goals. Provide conferences or other valuable training opportunities as a long term goal. It’s not just sending HR to the office with worksheets. This could be an employee going to a conference to get energized.
  • Microposition goals. You may not be able create a real managerial position (vertical), but you can create micro positions (horizontal) that employees will fill. You could create a position for a shift safety official, with a small raise, and some new duties and benefits. It is especially useful for employees who struggle to understand their entire job. You can use micro-positions in order to have each employee focus on specific tasks, as well as the normal job. This is a team that has specializations built in.

7. Watch out for workplace culture

Employee burnout can be caused by a bad workplace culture.

Consider the areas that you can easily alter.

  • Wherever possible, reduce the pace and time pressure. Stress is reduced. Focus on the human element instead of output.
  • Communication between management and employees should be excellent.
  • Check the workload of each employee. You may need more staff than you think.
  • Define roles and expectations. Although you may think that a culture without definitions and boundaries is wonderful, many employees would prefer guidelines. Guidelines remove any fear or worry of not knowing what to expect. They reduce conflict and provide stability with other employees that encroach upon their territory.
  • Create buffer zones between your employees and customers. To protect your employees against unreasonable and aggressive clients, managers or customer service specialists should be on hand. It is not necessary to reprimand a tired employee. In such a situation, nothing is resolved or improved.

If people don’t know what to do, or how much, they are failing your culture. They also need to be able take breaks without causing everyone else problems.

Employee burnout is more than simply too much work. Employee burnout occurs when employees feel weary, worried or stressed. They may also be depressed, upset or feeling trapped.

There is no cookie-cutter solution to employee burnout. You must address it to reduce employee turnover or absenteeism.

Burnout in the workplace: How to overcome it

To maintain a productive and happy workplace, it is important to understand the causes of employee burnout, as well as signs to look out for. flexible schedule is another great way to keep your staff from burning out. It helps them manage their time in the best way for you and them. Flexible scheduling is built into When I Work, allowing you to create a schedule in just minutes.

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