The World Health Organization (WHO) classified burnout as an occupational disease back in 2019. The symptoms include lack of energy or exhaustion, a raised level of cynicism related to an occupation, and reduced professional efficacy. If burnout is not detected early, it can lead to months of downtime for an employee, and in some cases can lead to death.
Financial adviser Deloitte found in their external marketplace survey (US based) that 77% of respondents said that they had experienced burnout at their current job, with 91% saying that having an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration negatively impacts their quality of work. Here are five tips for employers to get optimum performance out of their employees without pushing them over the edge.
Don’t overload employees with an unreasonable workload
Some employees will voice their problems with an unreasonable workload that they cannot cope with, others, however, will feel that it is unprofessional to say to their immediate managers that they can’t get something done. These two scenarios need to be handled in two different ways. Managers have to listen to staff who say that they aren’t able to cope with their workload, and shift some projects either to other employees or, perhaps, agency staff. In the other scenario, managers have to be vigilant and notice that an employee is showing symptoms of burnout (as mentioned above), and take the same action. This isn’t as easy to notice with hybrid / remote workers, so managers have to ask employees how they are really feeling, and for those employees who feel that they are being unprofessional for not being able to complete tasks, this can be difficult for them to admit to.
Create an inclusive corporate culture
Not everyone will like the same things, and this is evident across many employers as they go about creating a corporate culture. If the workforce is made up of a majority of younger employees, an employer might organize afterwork events that are geared towards that age group or generation. Those who find themselves outside this group may find themselves either forcing themselves to take part in events because they feel they have to, or not take part and risk becoming outcasts. If this happens, then employees can start to feel negatively towards their employer, and want to jump ship quickly, putting pressure on themselves to keep working at an optimum level when their line-of-thought doesn’t permit that to happen. Therefore, employers have to ensure that their events, and the communications around them, are inclusive.
Helping employees with their financial wellness
In these times of high cost of living, many employees are finding it hard to make ends meet, and recent reports say some have more than one full time job. Many countries / employers have a maximum 48 hour week for employees to adhere to. Any more than this, and employees risk burning-out trying to juggle everything. Employers should offer financial wellness advice as a benefit, and this in turn will reduce employees’ fears over money problems, and avoid them hitting a wall.
Help employees with their physical wellbeing
Along the same lines of financial wellness, employers should make sure their benefits offer things like a gym membership or, for example, team / company running events. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever.”
Unpredictable personal events
Not everyone likes to talk about their personal problems, and this can be the case for many employees. Linked to the first tip of this list, many bottle up their emotions thinking that it would be unprofessional to admit to personal problems they might be having. Of course, nobody should have to talk about difficult things with work colleagues if they don’t want to, and that is why employers should have some mental wellbeing benefits in place to guard against unforeseen circumstances. This could be booking time with online psychologists or physical meetings with counsellors.
There are many other ways in which employees can work optimally without suffering burnout. The main key to an employer’s success is through communication and one of the best ways to do this is through digital tools, especially those that work on mobile devices. This way employees can fill in surveys and report to their manager, as well as book some, if not all, benefits mentioned in these five tips. Communication combined with vigilance is the key to driving employees’ optimum performance and avoiding burnout.
Want to know more about how to prevent employee burnout? Read our previous blog for more tips and advice.