We all have off days feeling tired and overworked. If your employees are constantly feeling physically and mentally exhausted due to prolonged stressful periods, they are likely suffering from burnout. And they are not alone.
- Google reported a 24% increase in the number of UK employees searching for symptoms of burnout in 2020 compared with the previous year.
- Meanwhile, McKinsey reported at the end of last year 62% of workers were experiencing mental health issues and the problem was most acute among diverse groups.
The McKinsey study found 44% of businesses rolled out well-being and personal enrichment programmes and, 52% offered mental health and bereavement counselling.
Clearly demand is outstripping supply and there is more employers can do to reduce employee burnout.
What causes employee burnout?
The causes are complex and run deeper than excessive workloads to include: a lack of autonomy, feeling disconnected from decision making, feeling undervalued and overlooked, difficult working conditions and a lack of resources to the job. Workers everywhere are exhausted and burnt out. What can you do as an employer to stop the rising tide in your organisation?
6 ways to reduce employee burnout in your business
#1 Be alert to e-presenteeism
Working from home comes with many advantages. However, despite reports of positive productivity and improved new work/life balance – there is an increasing problem with e-presenteeism. Commuting time is being replaced by work and many employees are staying online as much as possible whilst working beyond their contracted hours. The remedy can be simple as turning off email alerts or turning off emails servers. Doing nothing won’t make the problem go away. This leads us to our second point.
#2 Build a well-being culture
Lead by example and set clear boundaries about what’s expected during working hours and what’s not. If you send an email after hours or at the weekend, your team could feel pressured to be plugged in too. Over communicate and check in regularly to pick up the signs of burnout and talk through how to overcome it. Cultural change can be the biggest barrier to healthier workplace practices.
#3 Encourage your team to take their holidays
Some employees have been reluctant to take holiday over the past year as using that time while staying at home was seen as a waste of valuable days. But it’s still important to take a break from work. Encourage employees to use their holiday allowance. Again, clear communication on company policy about work communications during holiday time is essential to stop e-presenteeism.
#4 Think about the employee experience
Investing in employee experience and engagement should be a top priority as businesses plot their path to recovery. People are a company’s biggest asset. As Gallup reports, the most effective employee interventions this year will ‘support and amplify human development’. Performance development (including ongoing coaching sessions instead of the annual review), employee development rooted in individual strengths and internal recruitment to nurture talent are three major interventions for 2021. None of this is new. But that doesn’t make each of them less effective in improving the employee experience and making your team feel valued and respected.
If you haven’t done so already, create a personal development plan together. Set realistic goals and regularly review workloads and progress to understand roadblocks or reasons employees are starting to feel overwhelmed.
#5 Encourage a recognition and rewards culture
This links to our previous point. Gestures of appreciation can go a long way in keeping your employees feeling engaged and motivated. Burnout is everywhere. Now is the time to foster a supportive and compassionate culture with equitable rewards for everyone. Employees who are rewarded and receive recognition are less likely to suffer from stress. This is where an employee benefits platform with in-built rewards and recognition make it easy to reward your team and share the great things they do.
#6 Be flexible
Working in the new reality, juggling caring responsibilities with home working and multiple demands employees now face requires a different type of leadership and flexibility. For example, flexible hours and understanding when online meetings and Zoom calls need to be rescheduled or can’t be attended can really go a long way in making your employees feel less anxious and stressed.
These are some measures you can take to reduce employee burnout. Recognising the signs early is crucial and investing in mental health first aid training is an important first step.
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