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How to Prevent Employee Burnout


Everybody has experienced workplace stress or anxiety at one point in their career. In fact, up to 94% of workers report feeling stress at work. And while we all have heard that performance can increase with stress (“Yerkes-Dodson law”), too much stress or too high of a stress leads to a reduction in performance and can eventually lead to employee burnout.

Employee burnout is characterized by chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Employee burnout has increased significantly over the years, that finally in May 2019, the World Health Organization classified workplace burnout as a workplace hazard.

Employee burnout is costly to organizations and employees

Employee burnout is expensive. One survey found that employees that feel burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day and are 2.6 times as likely to leave their current employer. Moreover, not only will frequent and consistent stress result in a decrease in employee performance and eventual burnout, but it can also take a toll on overall health.

One survey has shown that 54% of workers believe that stress at work negatively affects their home life at least once a week. Moreover, stress causes 50% of employees to experience sleep loss. The Mayo Clinic has also found additional consequences from ignored or unaddressed job burnout including sadness, anger or irritability, alcohol or substance misuse, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Common causes of employee burnout

One survey found that unfair treatment at work, unrealistic demand, lack of communication, little support from their managers, unreasonable time pressure, and lack of role clarity were all reasons that caused employees stress.

“Only about half of employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work.” – Gallup

Another study also cited lack of transparency, role conflicts, and lack of appreciation as additional sources of employee stress. Regardless of the trigger, there is good news – stress to the point of burnout is easily preventable.

How to prevent employee burnout

1) Provide effective feedback often

Lack of role clarity and the perceived lack of managerial support are stressors that can be easily avoided in the workplace. (Continuous) feedback is a great way to make sure that everyone is executing the right tasks to accomplish the right goals. In addition, frequent feedback conversations is also a chance for managers to acknowledge employee progress and jobs well done. Not only can feedback reduce stress by clarifying expectations and goals, but feedback and recognition act as strong motivators for employees.

“69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.” – Social Cast

2) Encourage a good work-life balance

In 2017, only 52% of employees reported having unused vacation days. Taking vacation days can help prevent burnout. Encourage your employees to take time off. They will also be more productive and motivated to work if they have a good work-life balance.

3) Be realistic with goals

Monitor the workload and progress of both individuals and the team. If goals are not being met, talk to the employee to determine the problem : is the employee lacking the necessary skill set to effectively complete the task? Are your expectations too high for the team? Avoid employee burnout by helping employees meet their goals.

4) Communicate clearly and effectively with your employees

Make sure to be direct and kind with your employees. If you have not checked out Radical Candor by Kim Scott, make sure to check it out to ensure that you are clearly communicating with your team.

5) Talk to your employees often

Managers need to get to know their team; their actions have a big effect. Managers should be having open conversations with their team to help determine what makes them happy. Remember that happy workers are productive workers.

Have any tips on how to avoid employee burnout? Let us know!

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