Preventing Employee Burnout: What You Need to Know

Preventing Employee Burnout: What You Need to Know

Studies indicate that American employees are among the most overworked in the world. An emphasis on putting in long hours and not using vacation time results in environments where employees feel they must work themselves to exhaustion in order to succeed.

This is not a recipe for long-term success. Employee burnout can have major consequences for an organization. HR professionals play a crucial role in guarding against this.

Keep the following points in mind as you shift your workplace culture to one that prioritizes work-life balance. The rewards will be substantial. Engagement will rise, turnover will drop, and in the long run, productivity will soar.

Image courtesy of Mike McCune at Flickr.com

Encourage Mental Health Days

Many employees feel they can’t even justify taking a day or two off from work when they are physically ill. Obviously, it’s even less likely for workers to feel comfortable taking time off to address their mental and emotional health needs.

Encourage managers to adopt a more mental-health-friendly attitude. Make a point of letting employees know that mental health days are acceptable. You could even have managers take them first in order to prove the organization values the idea.

Workers may be reluctant to trust management when first learning about a new mental health day policy. However, if supervisors are willing to take advantage of it, other employees will be too.

Provide Appropriate Resources

Direct managers to ask employees if they feel they have all the tools and resources necessary to succeed. Burnout can result if a job that could be performed more easily and efficiently takes up a significant degree of an employee’s time and effort. Simply providing them with needed resources will have a significant positive impact.

Allow Some Degree of Remote Work

Ask managers to set aside a few days a month in which employees are permitted to work from home. The freedom of not having to commute every so often may be enough to help workers find the balance they need. Additionally, as workers grow more comfortable with the idea of staying home to work, they may also grow more amenable to the idea of using mental health days.

Look for Side Projects

Employees who might otherwise feel passionate about their work could experience burnout if they are forced to handle uninteresting tasks and responsibilities every single day.

Obviously, businesses must focus on tasks and projects that yield direct rewards. However, allowing employees to spend some time each month working on side projects offers multiple benefits. It can renew workers’ interest in their jobs, and may even generate ideas or projects that bring genuine financial rewards to the company.

Optimize Job Descriptions

Employees are likely to experience burnout if they don’t feel qualified for their roles. That’s why it’s important to be as accurate and detailed as possible when writing job descriptions.

What you don’t want is to attract and hire applicants who misunderstand what their responsibilities will entail. You’ll end up with applicants who could burn out in a position in which another person might thrive.

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Pay Attention to Workload

Employees can feel reluctant to tell supervisors they are overwhelmed with the volume of work they’re responsible for. They might believe bringing the topic up makes them appear unqualified for their position.

Push back against this mindset by instructing managers to regularly ask employees if they feel the workload is fair and reasonable. At first, employees may hesitate to answer honestly if they believe they have more work than they can handle. Eventually they’ll be more comfortable with honest discussions about the topic if those discussions occur frequently.

It can also be helpful to promote an organizational structure in which managers have performed in the same capacity as those who work under them before being promoted. Such managers will be more likely to understand when workloads become unreasonable.

Provide Feedback

Employees want to know if they are succeeding in their roles. They want recognition for their accomplishments and direction if they are struggling. Simply knowing their work is valued and that their weaknesses aren’t necessarily grounds for immediate termination can boost engagement. When workers are more engaged, they’re less vulnerable to burnout.

Have Fun

Burnout is, in many ways, the result of stress overriding positive experiences. Workers who feel the demands of their jobs prevent them from enjoying time off can become overwhelmed.

Thus, it helps to make the office a fun environment.

Have more parties. Schedule social events. Surprise employees with snacks in the break room. Celebrate birthdays. Make work a positive, relaxing experience as much as possible.

Focusing on burnout-prevention methods is key to a company’s success. Don’t give into the impulse to prioritize hard work over everything else. The short-term payoff isn’t worth the long-term consequences.

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