• ​Simple Strategies to Avoiding Employee Burnout This Year

    ​Simple Strategies to Avoiding Employee Burnout This Year

    Simple Strategies to Avoiding Employee Burnout This Year
    Content courtesy of Nicole Malone, Dark Horse Nutrition LLC

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that employee burnout is prevalent more now than ever before. Due to the ongoing pandemic, more and more employees are still working from home which blurs the line between work life and home life. In fact, according to a recent MetLife’s 18th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study from 2020, 4 in 10 employees stated they struggle to navigate the demands that come with today’s more flexible, “always-on” work-life world. There may be a way for employers to be proactive and stay ahead of employee burnout. But before we jump right into that, let’s look at what burnout is and what it looks like.

    What is burnout?
    Burnout is a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion brought on by constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Job-specific burnout can be brought on by a number of factors ranging from unclear job or performance expectations, lack of work-life balance, lack of control or support, and the list goes on. The consequences of burnout are very real and while burnout isn’t necessarily a medical diagnosis, it should still be taken seriously.

    Risk factors
    The following may be risk factors to pay attention to when it comes to yourself and your employees:

    • Heavy workload and long working hours
    • Struggle with work-life balance
    • Work in a helping or service-based profession where others’ needs often proceed your own
    • Little to no control over workload
    Signs of employee burnout
    Here are some signs that your employees may be burning out:
    • Missing deadlines – your employees may be feeling overwhelmed or burned out by the sheer volume of work assigned to them.
    • Lack of concentration – for employees on the edge of burnout, it can often be difficult to focus or concentrate. These employees may be caught daydreaming, zoning out, or on the more extreme end on the verge of falling asleep.
    • Lack of energy – if an employee appears to be more sluggish than usual or is even fueling up on caffeine with little to no effect, it may be a sure tell sign that of burnout or overwhelm.
    Stress vs. Burnout
    While burnout can be brought on by stress, burnout isn’t the same as stress. Stress can be characterized as too much pressure and demand that require too much of you physically and mentally. Stressed people, however, can still function on a somewhat high level to get the job done and will often feel a sense of relief and accomplishment after the fact.

    Burnout, on the other hand, leaves you feeling depleted and empty. You have nothing else to give and are left mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted, and lack motivation or care. People who experience burnout oftentimes do not see hope or the light at the end of the tunnel. Burnout leaves you with a sense of being all dried up with nothing else to give.
    Stress:                                                                                                     Burnout:
    Over-engagement                                                                              Disengagement
    Emotions are overreactive                                                                 Emotions are under reactive or dull
    Loss of energy                                                                                   Loss of hope, motivation, ideals
    Primary response is physical or physiological                                 Primary response is emotional
    Leads to anxiety                                                                                 Leads to depression
    What can you do as the employer?
    Education is of the utmost importance. As with most things, there are plenty of resources available to share to prevent burnout within your company. Start with books or podcasts. There are numerous self-care and self-help podcasts and books on the market today. A good book is “Burnout: Solve Your Stress Cycle” by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. A good podcast to listen to is “Therapy Chat” available on Spotify.
    Other things you can do as the employer are things such as:
    • Hold walking meetings – help employees mentally and physically recharge by getting away from their desks and being more active. It is well known and established that physical activity is a great way to beat stress, so a productive walking meeting can tackle two things at once, physical activity and a team meeting. It is a true win, win situation!
    • Monitor workloads and schedules – employers and managers must ensure extra effort is made to communicate with employees. Check-in with them to make sure their workloads and tasks aren’t too much for them to handle. Of course, workloads are expected to have peak seasons if you will, but employees shouldn’t be expected to maintain that pace all year round. Monitoring your employees’ workload and schedules can make a world of difference.
    • Offer mandatory management training – managers can be the biggest deciding factor when it comes to employee retention, engagement, and productivity. In a recent Randstad study, 60% of respondents said they had left or will leave a job over bad management. With that being said, managers need to be trained and equipped to develop and lead employees as both individuals and a team.
    • Create clear goals and career paths - it isn’t uncommon for employees to lack direction or the opportunity for career progression. Setting clear goals and a path for upward mobility with employees can almost certainly boost morale and engagement.
    Remember to keep an open mind when considering options for combating stress and burnout. It is important to make your employees a priority and this means their mental, emotional and physical health. Set policies that allow employees to get ahead of burnout in the workplace. This shows that you support their overall well-being and are willing to work through it with them. 

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