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How To Identify Employee Burnout And What You Can Do About It?

In today’s never-ending grind of meeting deadlines at work and paying one’s bills, stress forms a major part of everyone’s lifestyle. In such a scenario, employee burnout has become a common phenomenon. Burnout isn’t just a normal ‘don’t feel like showing up today’ thing, but much more than that. It is an acute condition that derives from chronic emotional stress at work.

Researchers have characterized burnout as a state of exhaustion, ineffectiveness, cynicism and reduced personal fulfillment. A burned out brain can’t concentrate as easily or separate itself from problems. But burnout doesn’t just affect the individual, its symptoms are contagious and can quickly infect your entire workplace.

Employee Burnout

The emergence of smartphones and 24/7 access to the internet has managed to invade the privacy of employees. Post work emails are a common aspect of life for most of them and a quick response is often always expected. This can have serious effects not just on the health of employees but also on their productivity levels.

Let's understand how we can identify employee burnout and ways to correct it!

Identifying Employee Burnout And Ways to Tackle It

Here are a few ways to know when an employee might be close to having a burnout!

1. Increased Absenteeism

You know an employee is feeling the burnout when he is frequently applying for leave and calling in sick on work days. Some may be unable to get out of bed, experiencing chronic stress and work overload, while others may just be completely demotivated by their work or having to deal with their colleagues or managers.

It also gets difficult for such employees to focus on their work as they are constantly feeling stressed, which results in them making a lot of mistakes or accidents. This can get worrisome especially if they are handling heavy machinery, dealing with very intricate detail or when the safety of others lies in their hands.

2. Disengagement

While there could be many reasons for employee engagement going down, one of the reasons could be that she is feeling burned out. You will find that he or she disconnects from the team mentally.

Some visible signs of an employee feeling disengaged are refusing to communicate in team meetings or with his coworkers, sitting with his arms crossed instead of offering helpful inputs to a problem or simply being glued to his desk all the time.

If your employee is past the point of caring and feels detached from his/her environment, find out the causes and severity of the situation before it spirals out of control!

3. Higher Sensitivity

Understanding your employee mindset can turn out to be your blessing in the long run, as half the battle is won once you understand where the problem lies.

Speak to your employees and know the personality traits of your workforce. People who naturally take criticism more personally and feel more victimized than the average may cause them to feel a lot of emotion.

So when facing difficult days at work, they are likely to be more vulnerable and make mountains out of molehills. Figure out who in your team is most sensitive and more likely to feel the burnout. While it is not necessary that such people are definitely bound to feel burned out, but this concoction of personality traits can make a person feel that what they are doing is never good enough.

4. Decreased Productivity

A decrease in sales, frequent deadlines missed or an increase in client complaints are all signs of an employee getting lazy and his productivity levels dipping. If your typically dependable consistent employee suddenly turns unreliable and lax, there is a chance that they are feeling overworked or burned out! They might just not be enjoying their work anymore. He might feel less motivated, less committed and less interested in the customer experience.

What Can You Do About It?

Here are some ways you can tackle employee burnouts!

1. Understand What Causes Stress

In a study conducted recently, about 40% of all workers noted that their job was highly stressful, regardless of the industry.

The most commonly cited factors that cause stress include people they work with, the absence of work-life balance, lack of job security and too much of workload. The best way to handle employee burnout is to open a conversation about it with them.

Talk to them and understand the cause of low performance. By offering a way for employees to discuss what is causing them stress, you may be able to make simple changes to bring the spirit of the workplace back up.

Give them a chance to open up about the issues they face. While some may be genuinely struggling under the huge pile of work assigned to them, some may be facing problems in their personal lives which might be ultimately reflecting in their work. Talk to them like a buddy and work out a solution that suits both your needs.

2. Grant More Autonomy

It is important to understand that nobody can produce great results at work if they are feeling controlled and governed all the time. This alone is one of the major factors of people around you feeling stressed and burned out. This is especially true with millennials, that are characterized by a need to work on their own, with little interference, and more autonomy.

Set policies and systems in your workplace in a way that does not leave your employees feeling handicapped, say in a situation when they become so dependent on you for solutions, that they are unable to take independent decisions when you are not around.

Do not micromanage your employees, which can ­ have some really serious consequences, employee burnout being one of them.

3. Switch Roles

It can feel uninteresting to continuously work on similar projects week after week. One of the best ways to keep the employees’ workload under control and interest consistently up is to make sure that each team member’s workload is varied.

For example, your senior manager might be juggling with too many high paying clients in his portfolio, feeling burned out and stressed with too much work pressure. While another employee might be feeling less challenged and bored at work. Do not hesitate in assigning a big client to a junior employee, which will not only get him more experience but also aid the senior employee by having a chance to breathe.

Get your team excited by assigning them variations of work, say a creative writing assignment to an employee who spends most of her days analyzing and researching the company numbers. This will instil a new confidence in them regarding their capabilities and bring out renewed energy and excitement towards their work.

4. Rewards And Recognition

One of the best ways to help your burned out employees recover is to reward them for their accomplishments.

Some Other Steps You Can Take To Cure The ‘Burnout’...

  • Promote a flexible work environment to accommodate employees’ personal responsibilities and family obligations.
  • Make employee wellness – both emotional and physical, a priority. Regular health checkups, an in-house counselor to talk to, a gym and adequate time off from work schedule to visit the same, regular informal team outings etc. could facilitate wellness.
  • Encourage employees to go on vacations. A vacation a year will surely help employees to rejuvenate and return to work with new vigour. Even to beat day-to-day work pressure, a short walk around the block, a cup of coffee, a moment to meditate or just a non-work related conversation with colleagues can work wonders.
  • Ensure that your company policy allows paid maternity/paternity leaves. Build an in-house childcare facility for new mothers.
  • Encourage a culture of constant feedback - this helps to understand if employees are getting the right resources to work with, are able to manage their responsibilities and are happy, satisfied and engaged!

While you are on the right track to alleviate the burn out your employees are feeling, understand that getting rid of it isn’t a very quick process.

As a manager, read between the lines and know when your employees are feeling overworked or drained at work.

When you surely know so, step in and take corrective measures. You will notice happier, more productive employees which is a win-win for both you and your team!

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