To many, the idea of employee burnout is a myth. It’s merely an excuse for those who can’t live up to the expectations of others. But in 2020, burnout in the workplace has become very real.
It’s quickly become an idea that managers fear while employees power through, ignoring the tell-tale signs. Officially, burnout is the result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. And given the current circumstances, that seems impossible to escape.
Self-proclaimed experts suggest offering Friday afternoons off or longer lunch breaks — and to some, that may help. In general, though, that’s not what burned-out employees really need. What they need is even simpler.
Why does burnout in the workplace matter?
Burnout doesn’t just affect the well-being of individual employees, it also affects their colleagues, managers and the business as a whole. Employees who are burned out are irritable, distracted, and in many cases, cynical about their work. This poor mindset will inevitably lead to important tasks falling by the wayside, reduced efficiency, and an unpleasant work environment for everyone. It is important to combat employee burnout not only for your employees but for your organization as a whole.
Working remotely does not equal burnout prevention
As many of you now know, today’s remote workplace brings about a whole new set of challenges for employees. Balancing self care with existing job responsibilities, while shifting to a new workplace environment may sound simple, but many have struggled to make that transition effectively.
When you go to work at a physical location, there is a clear line between the work-life balance. Now, employees stuck at home are working more hours than ever — and for many it’s because they spend their entire day in the same room. Their living room has become their office, their gym, a classroom for their kids, and the entertainment space for the whole family.
It’s all too easy to open the laptop and respond to an email or work on a project — any hour, day or night. The work-life line has been blurred and because they never “leave the office” their job never stops. Ultimately, they are bound to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, and like they can’t keep up. The balance is gone . . .
Paying mind to the important societal issues that surround us
Undeniably, there are multiple, major issues facing our society as a whole right now. Beyond the pandemic, our society is faced with a divisive political climate and the largest movement against social injustice any of us have ever seen. When these opposing sides clash, as they often do, heated, unwavering opinions and beliefs add even more toxic anxiety into a society that’s already full to the brim.
Obviously, these societal issues have led to a variety of very difficult, and very tense situations. When employees bring their differing beliefs to the workplace, similar unpleasant situations can arise.
These added stressors only contribute to the possibility of burnout in the workplace, especially when combined with the other factors we’ve discussed.
How do we solve employee burnout in the workplace?
So, what do we do? We know that COVID, working from home, and hotbed social issues are all driving levels of employee burnout higher, but how can we as employers fix a situation where all the odds seem stacked against us?
The first thing both employees and employers need to remember is that work-life balance is important. At the end of the day, people working from home should “close the office door” and leave work, even if that door is more metaphorical than physical. Employees should take a break from their busy phones and emails to eat dinner with their families, and never bring their cell phone to bed!
On a larger scale, a more impactful way to combat employee burnout is through empathetic leadership. Truly listening to what your employees want and need will allow you to help steer each individual employee away from potential burnout. Being an empathetic leader shows your workforce that you care about them and what they need.
Maybe it is a longer lunch break that they really want, but listening to your people can change the culture of an organization for the better. Bringing disruptive and anxiety inducing issues into the light can lead to real, immediate solutions. But beyond that, finding and addressing the real problems can lead employees to have more respect for their organization, their superiors, and their co-workers.
How do you figure out the real problems?
One very effective way to gain insight into your employees’ needs is to perform an employee engagement survey. These surveys are custom-designed to uncover specific workplace problems and identify appropriate solutions for moving forward. They are also very helpful tools to explore how employees are feeling about their workplace and how their organization can best help them during a difficult and stressful time.
Don’t fall into the same trap as countless other organizations. Burnout in the workforce is very real — especially now. Encourage your employees to do what they need to do to prevent burnout and improve their quality of life. Just like everyone else, your people need to be heard. And if you listen, you will prevent employee burnout.
Want to discuss some ideas for your employee engagement survey? Click here to schedule a call…