Employee Burnout and How to Prevent It

Burnout is more than those familiar feelings of stress or boredom in the workplace. Burnout is characterized by feelings of hopelessness, resulting in decreased productivity and performance. It has become so widespread that it is now recognized by the World Health Organization. If alleviating and eliminating employee burnout is not already on your agenda as a manager or an executive, it should be.

Why should Managers be Concerned About Burnout?

Employees are every company’s greatest asset and should be regarded as such. When staff become overwhelmed and begin to burn out, there can be significant costs to the business, including, but not limited to:

  • Healthcare costs
  • Business errors
  • Turnover and loss of talent
  • Escalating Employee conflicts
  • Decreased efficiency and production

Managers can mitigate these losses by taking a proactive approach to reducing burnout in their organization. Successful strategies may include several of the following methods:

  • Communicate Clearly: from the moment you begin recruiting talent, make expectations of the position clear. Eliminate ambiguity about responsibilities by maintaining open communication after hiring. Provide regular feedback to employees.
  • Align Assignments with Talent: avoid assignments that go beyond your employee’s capacity to perform, unless additional resources are included. When an employee is tasked with something that may breach their skillset, provide adequate training to enhance their abilities to achieve. A sense of growth and accomplishment will keep burnout at bay.
  • Acknowledge Value: regularly credit employees for their accomplishments. Focus less on quantitative measurements like who spent how much time on a task, and more on qualitative measures like how an assignment was tackled or the caliber of the final product.
  • Delegate with Care: refrain from overburdening your highest-achieving employees with the bulk of the work. These employees may be willing to accept greater responsibility but will often end up over-compensating for the work that should be done by other staff. Delegate tasks appropriately to avoid burnout.
  • Eliminate the Unnecessary: a great way to foster an increased sense of productivity is to allow ample time for productivity. Remove useless meetings from the calendar or re-evaluate who needs to participate. Limit distractions like unnecessary emails or messages. Keep interruptions to a minimum, and productivity will increase.
  • Improve Mental Health: work with executives to develop mental-health solutions for employees. Policies can include paid time off for “mental health days,” including counseling in your company insurance, engage your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and talk openly about mental health with employees. Develop a culture of mental health awareness that combats the negative stigma often associated with mental health issues.
  • Be Flexible: one aspect of improving mental health among employees may be increased work flexibility. For some team members, the flexibility to work from home can alleviate pressures that lead to burnout. Others may desire flexibility at work to take care of themselves physically by getting up to go outside, eating some healthy food, or having access to a gym facility. Take time to find out what interests your employees and implement solutions that grant more flexibility and yield increased employee satisfaction.
  • Compensate Appropriately: burnout is characterized by apathy and lack of motivation. In some cases, this decreased motivation may be tied to low pay. Work with your human resources department to ensure that compensation and benefits are appropriate for every employee.
  • Set the Example: managers who model behavior that leads to burnout are likely to experience burnout themselves and to foster similar behaviors in their department. Hold yourself to the same standards of wellness and balance as your employees. Refrain from sending emails past office hours, take advantage of a mental health day, avoid engaging in unnecessary meetings. Regardless of the standards implemented in your organization, make sure management style consistently models those ideals.
  • Know the Employees: a pivotal tactic to alleviating and preventing burnout is to recognize it before too much damage has occurred. Employers should know their employees well enough that they can detect changes in behavior that indicate early stages of burnout. Watch for signs like decreased engagement, increased frustration, reduced output, higher frequency of error, and constant fatigue.

Companies should evaluate their culture and its ramifications on the wellbeing of employees. By taking the time to develop solutions to combat burnout, both the employees and the employer will benefit.

How can we help?

Compensation Works has the expertise and bandwidth to support your organization’s unique communication, culture, compensation structure, and benefits needs. We partner with your team to provide meaningful feedback, recommendations, and observations. We help our clients by crafting impactful strategies that inform, engage, and protect your team. We care about our clients and strive to share information that is meaningful to them.