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Have you ever felt utterly exhausted, both mentally and physically?

You might even dread going into the office and find that you’re struggling to meet your goals.

Well, perhaps you’ve been under too much stress and pressure and are feeling the effects of burnout.

Burnout is a significant problem in our modern society, and it is a critical problem that we should all be trying to eliminate. As such, we need to take a close look at preventing and reducing burnout in the workplace.

What is workplace burnout and what are its causes?

Herbert Freudenberger first coined the term “burnout” in 1974 and introduced it in his book "Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement."

He originally describes burnout as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one's devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.” 

Burnout seems to strike when employees are exhausted, either physically or mentally. Often a result of prolonged stress or frustration, burnout can have many adverse effects.

It often feels like extreme exhaustion and may present itself as apathy towards their work. There also appears to be a reduced sense of accomplishment and loss of personal identity.

Burnout can show itself in different ways. These include frustration or indifference towards work, persistent irritability, anger outbursts, exhaustion, and absenteeism.

A burnt-out employee shows a lack of excitement in their work, which hurts morale. There are many contributing factors to burnout, such as stressful jobs, lack of support and resources, or personal issues.

Sometimes, it is more than one factor contributing to burnout, but the main thing is to ensure that you catch it before it becomes an issue. Burnout usually relates to a lack of something in the employees’ work or personal life.

Some employees may feel like they lack control or have unclear job expectations. They may also experience a lack of social support or have an imbalanced work-life schedule.

The adverse effects of burnout in the workplace

If not avoided or detected early enough, burnout can have several adverse effects on the body.

Some of the symptoms of workplace burnout are excessive stress, fatigue, insomnia, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a compromised immune system. Personal consequences of burnout could include alcohol abuse, isolation from friends and family, irresponsibility with finances, and an inability to fulfill responsibilities.

Burnout affects employees’ psychosocial spheres, harming how they perform at work.

Some adverse effects of burnout in the workplace are:

  • Job withdrawal
  • Lower productivity
  • Decreased job satisfaction
  • Greater conflict with work colleagues

One burnt-out employee could affect the way the entire team performs. Employees could bring down team morale and drag down the rest. Burnout has also resulted in high amounts of absenteeism at work.

This absenteeism affects the work environment around employees. If work is not done on time, other team members cannot do their job. This cycle pulls the entire team back. Burnt-out employees also result in high turnover.

One study on HR leaders showed that 46% of them stated that employee burnout was responsible for up to 50% of their turnover.

The benefits of avoiding burnout in the workplace

A study of 1,000 U.S. workers showed that many employees were highly engaged in their work but were also exhausted and ready to leave their organization. 

This study indicates that employers should be making an effort to avoid burnout. There are many personal benefits to preventing burnout in addition to company benefits.

The first benefit of preventing burnout is that you have a happier employee. A more satisfied employee means that they are more willing and able to do their tasks.

A burnt-out employee could also affect the rest of the team. This means that the company will not be getting as much work done as it usually would.

Therefore, avoiding burnout in an employee is beneficial to the company’s bottom line. So, not only does preventing burnout help the employee stay happy and productive, but it also benefits the company.

A happy workforce 😊 means employees are eager to prioritize the company’s primary goals.

How to prevent burnout in the workplace?

These six tips to avoid burnout in the workplace will help you in improving employee engagement and productivity.

1. Ease the pressure by reducing unreachable demands

Sometimes when the work keeps coming in, it’s easy to feel like everything is impossible. There should be an emphasis on projects and goals that are reachable.

Build a strong workplace culture where it is okay to flag when feeling overstretched and overwhelmed. Senior management should lead by example here and ask employees regularly if they struggle with their workload. This can be done during daily or weekly meetings.

Encourage boundaries and ensure your employees know when it’s okay to say “no” to something. A good philosophy to go by is to “Say yes to the person but no to the task.” This philosophy allows you to be assertive yet friendly.

2. Follow the passion

People are more likely to work harder in a position that they are passionate about. It’s a good idea to create new roles or move skilled employees to positions they feel more passionate about.

As a manager, it may be challenging to move around your top talent, especially if you think a specific role is suited for them. It is always a risk to let employees find positions for which they show a passion. But, allowing your employees to follow their passions creates an environment of creativity.‍

According to research, teachers can cultivate creative mindsets by nurturing their passions. This can also be applied to a manager’s role to lead by example. As a manager, your primary job is to help your team improve their skills.

3. Keep reasonable work hours

This solution is simple. Burnout can happen when strict work hours are not implemented, either by employers or employees. Make sure that your employees switch off when they need to.

This task may be difficult when your work can be accessed easily on your smartphone, but it is vital that you set specific work hours to work. Encourage this with your employees and be flexible with what they can and cannot do in a day.

At NICE, a $1B CX company, they encourage their employees to take some a day or two off after, or even during, stressful projects. This allows them to regroup and get back into work with a fresh mind. They also use gamification to keep employees engaged and motivated.

4. Take mental health days

Encouraging employees to take mental health days can prevent moral decline. When an employee knows that their managers support mental health days, it alleviates any concerns about asking for time off.

Research by PWC shows that for every $1 spent making the workplace mentally healthy, the return is $2.30 because employees are more productive, leading to reduced absenteeism. 

This research shows that encouraging mental health days makes for a better work environment and benefits the company in the long run.

It becomes management’s duty to ensure that all employees are happy and satisfied with their work environment. You need to ensure that everyone in your team is safe and comfortable.

5. Encourage work-life balance

Managers need to support their employees when it comes to needing a work-life balance. There is little done to safeguard this balance as employees may work long hours to complete tasks on time.

This is another step where leading by example helps. Employees are reluctant to take off days or leave work on time if senior management does not do the same thing. It’s healthy for them to see their bosses go early or take vacations.

It would be best to encourage your employees to take vacation time, especially after a stressful period at work. It might also be a good idea to limit how much vacation time is carried over to the next year so that employees are more likely to use their vacation days.

At Maestro Health, they encourage their employees to “sign-off” during their downtime. While it’s tough to disconnect, they encourage employees to consider how urgent things are and if it can wait until morning.

This lets employees enjoy their time off more without dealing with unnecessary work stress at all hours.

6. Educate staff on burnout and stress management

This step is vital as many people do not properly detect burnout signs and symptoms. Prevention is always better than cure. During staff meetings, go over the signs of burnout or demotivation with your employees. It might also be a good idea to put it in a memo to access it easily. If they have minor signs of burnout like stress and trouble sleeping, it is good to take it to the manager. In addition to this, managers can help educate employees on stress management techniques.

Managers can mentor others in areas such as time management skills and productivity. Encourage them to use a mindfulness app to walk through guided meditations and track their mood.

‍Final thoughts

Although burnout can have many adverse effects on employees and the company, it can be prevented by promoting a more open work environment.

To make this easy, Empuls offers a comprehensive employee engagement solution that makes open communication and feedback as simple as 123! With Empuls, you can easily spot absenteeism trends and ensure that those employees are alright.

What is important to note is that employees at risk of burnout need to get their lives back in balance, and your company should focus on supporting them and giving them the tools needed to relieve their stress.

Leaders showed that 46% of them stated that employee burnout was responsible for up to 50% of their turnover.
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Karishma Bhatnagar

Karishma Bhatnagar LinkedIn

Karishma is a passionate blogger who comes with a deep understanding of SEO tactics. When she isn’t working, you’ll find her in the mountains, experiencing the fresh breeze & chirping sounds of birds.