Employers, Here Are 4 Ways You Can Begin To Effectively Tackle Employee Burnout

Tired Business woman

As the pandemic lingers, employee burnout is at historic levels. More than 70% of employees reported being burnt out and feeling that their employers aren’t doing enough to address workplace burnout. Workplace burnout is commonly defined as extreme physical and emotional exhaustion that results in a lack of professional efficacy, increased cynicism, lack of engagement and depleted energy.

Employee burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a series of triggers that occur over time causing even the most passionate employee to become disengaged.

Some warning signs that an employee is likely burnt out include:

  • Detached from the workplace culture
  • Loss of motivation and enthusiasm for their job
  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased mistakes and poor memory
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Irritable and more sensitive to feedback
  • Increased negativity and cynical outlook
  • Increased absenteeism

Rather than address the root cause of an employee’s burnout, companies believe they can reverse it by giving them more money, a new title or offering more fun perks. While this may be a short term solution, the root cause of the issue hasn’t been addressed and it will inevitably resurface.

Suzie Finch, founder of The Career Improvement Club, explained, “once an employee has lost the motivation, drive and trust of their employer it’s very hard to regain it back.” As such, the employee and company end up parting ways.

This is due to the employee growing resentful and leaving on their own accord, the employee becoming vocal about their grievances to the point of termination or the manager writing the employee off until they can push them out. Here are four ways employers can begin to address employee burnout.

Foster A Mental Health Friendly Culture

Tackling burnout is more than implementing a well-being program. It’s changing workplace habits, identifying root causes and utilizing leadership to set the tone moving forward. Employees look to their managers and leadership to learn the norms and acceptable behaviors of the workplace. Thus, leadership needs to be the champions of mental health and well-being. When employees see their manager work through lunch, not take PTO or work while on vacation, they assume they need to do the same as well. This perpetuates a culture of burnout.

In order to provide mental health support, employers need to seek the feedback of their employees to understand what’s creating the stress. Burnout can result from various factors such as an unmanageable workload, no support, an inflexible schedule, lack of expectations and role clarity, unrealistic deadlines, micromanaging and unfair treatment, to name a few.

Here are some ways employers can start to reverse burnout through mental health

  • Create a mental health strategy and actively promote to employees
  • Actively work to mitigate an overwhelming workload
  • Revisit workplace policies to create more flexibility for employees
  • Seek out Employee Assistance Program (EAP) details and share with employees
  • Encourage employees to take mental health breaks throughout the day at their own discretion
  • Host meditation or yoga sessions for employees to participate in
  • Empower employees to take control of their schedule and set boundaries
  • Encourage employees to use their vacation days
  • Create a safe space for employees to feel comfortable opening up to their manager when they’re struggling with their workload
  • Create open and transparent two-way communication

While this isn’t a conclusive list, it’s a start. Each workplace and employee situation is different. Most importantly, managers need to be mindful and observant for when employees are at their emotional edge. The worst thing companies can do is seek feedback and ignore it, make excuses for it or make false promises.

Embrace A Culture Of Emotion

Most companies abandon their own core values to avoid dealing with the emotional aspect of their employees. For example, companies tout putting their people first, yet they try to suppress any emotion that isn’t positive. By doing so, they believe they can create a culture where they can manage how employees feel and express themselves. However, the Harvard Business Review said, “most companies don’t realize how central emotions are to building the right culture.

They tend to focus on the cognitive culture: the shared intellectual values, norms, artifacts and assumptions that set the overall tone for how employees think and behave at work.” While that’s incredibly important, emotional culture is just as critical.

Companies who ignore or fail to understand how emotions contribute to the overall well-being of the culture will undoubtedly suffer as a result. Embracing a culture of emotion means creating a safe space where employees feel comfortable expressing their feelings, concerns and share when they’re struggling. Research shows that emotions influence an employee’s creativity, decision making, performance and overall commitment to the company. All of which impact the bottom line.

Ensure Employees Are Taken Care Of

While most burnout is due to experiences in the workplace, external influences are also a contributing factor. External stressors employees commonly face are financial problems, family and relationship issues, pet concerns, addiction, social disadvantages, discrimination, abuse, trauma, bereavement or personal health issues, to name a few.

Ensuring employees are taken care of means having the right programs and resources available to support them. This can be having an EAP, a mental health program such as Fringe, offering telebehavioral health benefits, having a personal coach available and more. Many companies are revising their benefits to now include dog walking, pet sitting and grocery delivery services to alleviate employee stress.

Ditch The Traditional 9-5

Expecting employees to work traditional working hours is quickly becoming an archaic practice. Companies are now shifting to more flexible schedules with established core working hours. Core working hours may be defined differently for each company but ultimately it’s when everyone must be present and available for meetings. Outside of those core working hours, managers have the trust and expectation that employees will complete what’s expected of them when they’re most productive.

Managers are empowering employees more than ever to own their calendar through time-blocking. Rather than time-blocking an entire day or week out, Stacy Cyr, director of marketing at Barton Associates, recommends employees to build in 20% more time for meetings, deadlines and questions. Not only does this reduce stress, but it also gives a buffer for when things pop up throughout the day.

Likewise, no meeting days are becoming increasingly popular. While it may not be possible to block off an entire day, having the ability to have a meeting-free afternoon during the week is crucial for a deep work session without interruptions.

I’m a Leadership Coach & Workplace Culture Consultant at Heidi Lynne Consulting helping individuals and organizations gain the confidence to become better leaders for themselves and their teams. As a consultant, I deliver and implement strategies to develop current talent and create impactful and engaging employee experiences. Companies hire me to to speak, coach, consult and train their teams and organizations of all sizes. I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge working internationally in Europe, America and Asia.

I use my global expertise to provide virtual and in-person consulting and leadership coaching to the students at Babson College, Ivy League students and my global network. I’m a black belt in Six Sigma, former Society of Human Resources (SHRM) President and domestic violence mentor. Learn more at http://www.heidilynneco.com or get in touch at Heidi@heidilynneco.com.

Source: Employers, Here Are 4 Ways You Can Begin To Effectively Tackle Employee Burnout

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Safety at work: a meta-analytic investigation of the link between job demands, job resources, burnout, engagement, and safety outcomes.

JD Nahrgang, FP Morgeson… – Journal of applied …, 2011 – psycnet.apa.org
… Job demands were found to hinder an employee with a negative relationship to engagement,
whereas job resources were found to negatively … Finally, we found that burnout was negatively
related to working safely but that engagement motivated employees and was …

Linking physician burnout and patient outcomes: exploring the dyadic relationship between physicians and patients

JRB Halbesleben, C Rathert – Health care management review, 2008 – journals.lww.com
Background: Although patient outcomes of hospital stays
have been widely explored, particularly pa.

Why does organizational identification relate to reduced employee burnout? The mediating influence of social support and collective efficacy

L Avanzi, SC Schuh, F Fraccaroli, R van Dick – Work & Stress, 2015 – Taylor & Francis
Employees answered to the question: “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your … Why
does organizational identification relate to reduced employee burnout … Maslach Burnout Inventory:
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[HTML] Burnout syndrome should not be underestimated

Y Güler, S Şengül, H Çaliş, Z Karabulut – Revista da Associação …, 2019 – SciELO Brasil
… the employees with a history of trauma in the last year than in employees who had … 2. Brewer EW,
Shapard L. Employee burnout: a meta-analysis of the relationship between age and … 3. Bridgeman
PJ, Bridgeman MB, Barone J. Burnout syndrome among healthcare professionals …

Cited by 3 Related articles All 5 versions

Employee adiposity and incivility: Establishing a link and identifying demographic moderators and negative consequences.

KA Sliter, MT Sliter, SA Withrow… – Journal of Occupational …, 2012 – psycnet.apa.org
link between adiposity and incivility, and how this might impact employee burnout and withdrawal …
used to more fully test the relationships among incivility, adiposity, burnout, and withdrawal …
Preliminary data from 341 student employees revealed that being overly adipose was …

“I laughed so hard my side hurts, or is that an ulcer?” The influence of work humor on job stress, job satisfaction, and burnout among print media employees

TA Avtgis, KR Taber – Communication Research Reports, 2006 – Taylor & Francis
… collection, the researchers went on site to hand out questionnaire packets to employees … many
psychological, affective, and behavioral factors that contribute to employee burnout syndrome …
Further investigation into other communication related constructs and the link to negative …

Burnout as a predictor of all-cause mortality among industrial employees: a 10-year prospective register-linkage study

K Ahola, A Väänänen, A Koskinen, A Kouvonen… – Journal of …, 2010 – Elsevier
… was to investigate whether burnout predicts all-cause mortality among forest industry employees …
age group as a potential moderator of the relationship between burnout and mortality … The
researchers gave each employee in the corporation an identification code, which was …

[HTML] Burnout syndrome in health-care professionals in a university hospital

LC de Paiva, ACG Canário, ELC de Paiva China… – Clinics, 2017 – SciELO Brasil
… case of outsourced employment, can also lower PA and undervalue employees since no … Risk
factors and prevalence of burnout syndrome in the nursing profession … The reciprocal relationship
between work characteristics and employee burnout and engagement: a longitudinal …

Cited by 62 Related articles All 10 versions

Burnout and risk of coronary heart disease: a prospective study of 8838 employees

S Toker, S Melamed, S Berliner, D Zeltser… – Psychosomatic …, 2012 – journals.lww.com
Objective Burnout is a negative affective state consisting of emotional exhaustion, physical fatig.

The practical paradox of technology: The influence of communication technology use on employee burnout and engagement

CL Ter Hoeven, W van Zoonen… – Communication …, 2016 – nca.tandfonline.com
Employees feel empowered by CTU because it allows them to establish a connection to their …
resources (JD–R) model to link the literature on paradoxes to employee well-being … job conditions
(job resources and demands) influence feelings of work-related burnout and work

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