process optimization

How Process Optimization Cures Employee Burnout

Now more than ever, retaining your top talent matters most. Your employees are the foundation of your business and its future success. For them to stick around and help your business grow, they need processes and systems that don’t overwork them. But if your business is full of inefficient workflows, chances are you’re at risk of losing your employees.

Overworked, unsupported and underappreciated employees don’t perform well. As their workload grows and their ability to handle it fades, their motivation quickly evaporates. After awhile, with no sense of forward progress, your employees will move on. And that leaves you scrambling to scale AND staff a growing business. 


But, you can significantly decrease the workload your employees face by leveraging business process optimization. By automating tasks, you’ll reduce unnecessary (soul-draining) menial tasks and give your employees more time to get caught up and more energy to focus on the things that will grow your business.

What is burnout?

Burnout typically happens when an employee is under significant stress for a prolonged period of time. Usually, this comes in the form of an increasing workload, pressing deadlines, and more demands. 

Employees get stretched thin. They hold on as long as they can. And when they’ve had enough, they leave for a *hopefully* better environment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies burnout as an occupational phenomenon. Though its diagnosis isn’t medical, it can lead to serious health conditions. 

Employees who are burnt out can develop depression, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other serious ailments.

Other common symptoms of burnout include:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from tasks
  • Feelings of negativism or cynicism related to work
  • Reduced professional efficacy

If your employees show signs of burnout, it’s crucial to rethink work processes and aim for optimization in key areas.

Related: 7 Proven Ways to Beat Burnout

 What is business process optimization?

Business processes are the tasks an organization needs to complete in order to deliver services or products to clients. Every workflow, method, and practice a company executes can be categorized as a business process.

Making workflows as efficient as possible is the core of business process optimization. By implementing process management techniques, organizations can save time, money, and improve their employees’ work balance.

There are a number of different ways to optimize workflow and business processes. The first step of business process management is to map out current practices. This will help you find unnecessary, overcomplicated and even broken workflows in your organization.

Eliminating or streamlining inefficient processes can drastically improve life at work for your employees. You’ll reduce unnecessary stressors and give your staff more time to focus on more important tasks. This will help reduce or remove the feeling like they’re “drowning.”

Examples of business process optimization

  • Eliminating redundancies: If a business process has too many steps, or has unnecessary tasks, getting rid of those will speed up the process and reduce waste.
  • Automating workflows: Taking the human component out of repetitive tasks. By letting bots handle the dirty work, you eliminate the chances of error and free up valuable time for your employees.
  • Improving communication: Increased transparency between departments can benefit your company by unifying goals, preventing procurement mistakes and avoiding miscommunications that could damage employee culture.
  • Forecasting changes: Your company can put the time saved with process optimization into innovation. By discovering new products or technology available, your team can implement new, scalable systems that grow with your business.

Business process management and continued success

Employees who work in any successful business run into tight deadlines, increasing demands and the struggle to work faster. Any company’s ability to sustain success depends on its ability to scale productivity with increased demands. 

With high stakes and difficult working conditions, burnout becomes a common occupational hazard.

Growing organizations need to examine their business processes. Workflow optimization is vital to their continued function and growth. Cutting down on unnecessary processes saves time and money on the line and helps your employees achieve better results.

Otherwise, your employees will end up running around in circles, overworking themselves trying to juggle more and more tasks. And they can only do that for so long before they give up and move one.

Is business process improvement bad for employees?

As a business grows, its systems should grow with it. The solution isn’t more work. It’s a better way of working. Automation isn’t the enemy. Instead, it provides support for employees and help make their work lives easier. 

The more efficient your workflows are, the more extra time your staff will have. And that’s time they can use to rethink how your business functions. 

Employees who are not overworked have the mental energy to scale your business even more. They can forecast changes in the industry. Discover new ways to increase efficiency and improve sales conversions. Design better solutions for your customers. (Absolutely critical in an era where many believe customer service is dead.)

In short, they can help you exponentially outperform your competitors.

Process effectiveness vs. process efficiency

Effective organizations often think that their workflows are efficient. But effectiveness and efficiency are very different concepts.

  • Process effectiveness: Doing the right tasks to help your business grow. Being effective means getting the work done. Completing all of the projects and requirements needed to maintain the current running of the organization.
  • Process efficiency: Doing tasks correctly. Being efficient means getting the work done faster and better than before.

Employees who experience burnout can be effective. Though they are swamped, they can complete their tasks by putting personal time and their health on the line. 

By adopting efficient workflows, productivity can skyrocket. And the time saved through process optimization can be invested in more rewarding work.

In the end, you should prioritize effectiveness over efficiency. 

Though they are both important, having systems in place that optimize productivity through effective workflows will go a long way in promoting the mental health of your team.

What is process optimization best practice?

The first step of process optimization is taking a step back. Examining current processes and evaluating the positives and negatives is a crucial point in business process management. 

Mapping out workflows and identifying unnecessary or overcomplicated components can help optimize efficiency. Once these have been identified, it’s crucial to have a strategy. Successful process optimization depends on a well-executed plan. Each step of this procedure has to be in a logical order.

The last thing your business wants to do is cause more burnout while trying to diminish it. 

The incorrect approach to process optimization puts companies at risk of spending more time than needed on workflow improvement. More work and less time can lead to more severe burnout for you and your employees.

Professional process optimization consultants are the best at creating these strategies. They can provide customized solutions to help grow your business. By taking the weight of planning off your shoulders, you can concentrate on curing burnout across your organization.

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Optimizing workflows on a budget

Coming up with a workflow improvement strategy requires additional work, and that’s not something a lot of businesses have the bandwidth for at the moment. 

Also, overhauling your business independently, trying to find a solution to prevent or cure burnout, can cause even more stress. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to improve processes. 

    1. Eliminate unnecessary processes: The fastest way to streamline your business is to whiteboard individual processes and eliminate extra steps or bottlenecks that create waste. 
    2. Listen to your team: Your team is the best resource for uncovering tasks and workflows that are a drain on their collective energy. Ask your team to share their insights to identify these problems.
  • Encourage efficiency: Give your team the time and resources they need to find better solutions. Adding a monthly brainstorming session can go a long way to thinking up better ways to improve how work gets done.
  1. Outsource: Process improvement consultants and BPO organizations have a background in streamlining workflows in a range of businesses. And they’re often more efficient and cheaper than attempting to carry out major improvements in house.
  2. Use low code: Leveraging automation and integration is the best way to streamline workflows. But it doesn’t have to come at a cost. Low code offers a scalable, affordable alternative to expensive custom applications. 

Any lasting change in your organization needs to be reinforced from the top down. Lead your team to find ways to improve how work gets done in your business and you’ll quickly see the results. 

Happier, more efficient employees who are ready to stick around and help scale your business is a much better scenario than high churn and waste in any organization. 

Originally published Nov. 3, 2021.

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