If you have a business, you know how difficult it is these days to find good employees, let alone keep them happy and content. And, if you’re understaffed like so many businesses today, burnout can become a serious problem. Workers who are suffering from burnout often display the following characteristics.
Workers who have these traits are bad for morale, turning the workplace into a hostile, toxic environment. That type of environment can often be sensed by customers, leaving them with a bad feeling about your business. Indeed, burnout can be like an infestation throughout your company – a threat to the comfort and well-being of those who work there and who do business with you.
Causes of Burnout
How do employees become burned out? It can happen for several reasons; some of them having to do with an employee’s personal life. In other cases, it could be the result of things that are happening – or not happening – at work. Burnout can occur at any stage of an employee’s career – no matter their age, the length of time with the company or their position.
Causes of burnout include conditions that cause the employee stress, such as:
- Trying to perform well while actual expectations are not clearly stated
- Poor or incomplete communication between the employee and management
- Having too much responsibility
- Not feeling appreciated for their accomplishments
- A toxic or stressful work environment
- Being expected (or feeling like they are expected) to constantly be connected to/available for work
- Feeling isolated (or actually being) isolated from coworkers and management
- Micromanagement or other overt behavior that demonstrates the employee isn’t trustworthy
As a leader of your business, it’s smart to be aware of how different members of your staff are doing and to look for symptoms of work-related burnout. Don’t assume, even if you have a good relationship with your employees, that they’ll report their stress to you.
Stress can be a touchy subject to talk about, especially with a manager or boss, whom employees often want to impress. There’s, unfortunately, a stigma surrounding mental health issues that causes many employees to suffer in silence rather than admit the vulnerable truth that they’re experiencing challenges to keeping on an even keel.
Of course, burnout is best managed when detected and acted upon early. In fact, by the time full-blown burnout has manifested itself, it could be difficult or impossible for the employee to re-engage. They may be so far gone that they’ll quit rather than even try to reverse the situation.
That, of course, is not an ideal scenario. It would be preferable to be on the lookout for the early symptoms of burnout so you can help prevent it. Employees on the road to burnout openly complain, are argumentative, aggressive, and combative. They often speak negatively about the company. These workers are shutting down their connection with the company and their work; they tend to resist coaching or even feedback.
What Can Managers Do
Such a possibility begs the question, “What can managers do to set employees up for success and avoid burnout?” Certainly, it’s important to create an environment where people feel respected, appreciated, and empowered. Managers should also try to establish the following policies.
- Recognize the need for – and demonstrate a desire to promote work/life balance; then practice what you preach to set an example of how it can work within the framework of your company.
- Maintain a policy of open and non-judgmental communication so employees will feel more comfortable confiding how they’re coping with that work/life balance. In fact, make it known that you welcome their feedback in all areas of the business.
- Closely monitor each employee’s workload and schedule to ensure that no one is being overburdened with work or responsibility. When the scale is weighted too heavily on the professional side, the balance will be off.
- Provide remote work options and the most flexible hours your company is able so employees can actually experience that work/life balance. Additionally, don’t simply offer generous vacation time; encourage your employees to avail themselves of it. It’s a benefit to not only them; you are rewarded with fresher employees for the time away from work to rest and recreate.
- Provide career paths to offer employees a roadmap to building their professional life within the context of your business. An employee with a clear professional vision will be steadier both at work and in their personal life.
- Train those in management positions to be strong leaders who build up their team and set them up for success. They should be trained in communication, goal setting, conflict resolution and employee motivation. Ensure that your management is on board with work/life balance policies and have the resources and opportunities to make them available to employees as a matter of course. You don’t want your managers causing stress that will eventually lead to the burnout that causes an employee to bail from your company.
- Invest your business’ resources in programs that assist employees in managing their lives. These include those that encourage wellness, both physical and mental, on and off the job; financial and retirement resources and/or counseling; and ones that promote self-care and stress management to help them better navigate work and life.
Employee burnout can be very costly for a business. When we invest time and money into training our employees, we want them to stick around, be productive, and feel like they’re a valuable part of the team or family. Burnout is often preventable, but you must be willing to invest in your people.