As entrepreneurs, we must make sure to take care of our most important assets: our employees. In addition to meeting the demands of your business, your employees are parents, spouses, volunteers, family members … the list goes on. The stresses of work and life are an ever-present concern, and effective leaders and business owners must understand how those demands impact productivity, efficiency and culture in the workplace. As if life and work weren’t stressful enough, the pandemic added a global and unexpected strain on families, finances, relationships and the workplace. Today, employee burnout is more prevalent than ever: In a recent Indeed survey, over 50% of respondents reported feeling burnt out in 2021, up from the 43% who reported feeling that way pre-COVID-19. More than two thirds of survey responders reported their burnout has gotten worse over the course of the pandemic.
As the world begins to work toward some form of “normal” again, employers must now more than ever ensure the work health of each of their employees.
Here are ways to recognize employee burnout and how to prevent it
Are your employees burned out?
Burnout is the state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It is the responsibility and privilege of every entrepreneur, business owner and leader to ensure the workplace supports a culture of productivity and efficiency, and that starts and ends with your employees.
Employee burnout is largely a gradual and unrecognized process. Being stressed, overwhelmed and overworked have become normalized in many businesses — regardless of sector — and because of that, many symptoms of stress go unnoticed.
Approximately 75% to 90% of doctor office visits are from stress-related ailments. Furthermore, chronic stress has been linked directly to affecting the brain. This said, if our most valuable assets — our employees — are experiencing these symptoms, then they are certainly not operating at an optimal level, which means your organization is not operating at an optimal level.
Because of this, it’s important to check in with your employees. Questions to ascertain if an employee feels supported and appreciated at work are integral to gauge how your employees view their experience at work and holds the ability to project employee morale and efficiency.
There are several ways you can support an employee through burnout; however, the more meaningful discussion is how to prevent it. As entrepreneurs and leaders, we must understand that employee burnout costs our companies money.
Here’s how to help prevent burnout in the workplace:
- Host self-care trainings and retreats customized to your organization. The healthier and happier your employees are, the better they will perform.
- Facilitate training on how to identify triggers and symptoms of stress along with coping mechanisms.
- Gather data and be observant. Often, leaders assume they know what is most meaningful to employees, but they rarely ask.
- Implement huddles. Conduct short 15-minute huddles to include a reflection or mindfulness exercise.
- Ensure the leaders of your organization are well-developed and energized. Your employees — and their performance — will be as strong as the leaders they report to. This means having separate leadership trainings and retreats geared specifically for your leadership team.
- Ensure your employees are taking their PTO and vacation days off. There is nothing worse than an employee who feels so overwhelmed with work that vacation presents as an inconvenience.
- Conduct quarterly and annual evaluations. An employee should never be surprised about your review of his or her performance. This process helps to build relationships and trust and clarifies on a consistent basis what the expectations are of your employees, helping to reduce stress.
- Ask your employees how you are doing as a leader and what their expectations are of you. Employees whose voices are valued usually become successful owners of their role.
- Express your appreciation for your employees and the work they do. Appreciation and reward go a long way, and everyone wants to know that the work they do matters and is making a difference.
- If you find an employee’s performance or demeanor has changed over a period of time, ensure you or another qualified leader addresses the issue. Not only do employees want to know they are seen, but they also want to know they matter. Having a vested interest in the individual and not just his or her role with your organization goes further than you’ll ever know.
- Make sure you communicate organizational changes. With so much in the world changing, it is refreshing when employees are included in meaningful changes. Whether they have a say so in the decision may not be possible, but the concept of inclusion is ideal and necessary for every organization.
- Make your organization a place where your employees enjoy coming to work every day! I will tell you this: When you take care of your employees, they will take care of you. Strong leaders have positive influences on those with whom they work, and productivity, effectiveness, efficiency and culture are always enhanced.
There are numerous ways you can help prevent burnout in the workplace. The key is to remember your most important assets – your employees. Always maintain a pulse on the needs of your organization, and that starts and ends with those responsible for ensuring the success of your vision.
Structure, effective communication and consistency are great ways to start the effort of employee burnout prevention, and the business benefits are well worth it. It’s time to invest in your most important asset!