Productivity, Work Culture

No BS Guide To ⚔ Burnout At Work (Prevent, Diagnose, Cure)

By on November 14, 2018

Employee burnout is a very real problem in today’s workforce. According to a recent survey of HR leaders, up to 50% of attrition can be attributed to burnout.  Rather than any other factors.

Burnout at work can be a result of many different things. But there are definitely ways to prevent it from happening. And if someone is already affected, there’s also possibility to help them out.

Prevent burnout before it starts

The best way to handle burnout? Nip it in the bud before it even starts. First step is to boost work culture to foster a positive workplace and enthusiastic team.

Don’t push too much work on your star employees

We all have those superstar employees. The ones who jump at the chance to take on new projects and who never “cry uncle” when the going gets tough. They are worth their weight in gold, and we wish we had ten more like them. As leaders & managers, it is important for you to remember that these employees have their limits too.

Be mindful of both – the number and complexity level of the projects you delegate to them. Seek continuous feedback to make sure they are not headed for burnout.

Foster team spirit

Often, employees who feel burdened to overachieve separate themselves from their colleagues. They even withdraw from social activities and team building exercises. This sense of detachment puts them at an even greater risk of burnout.

Look for ways to draw them into the team camaraderie. Be it team outings or any other events. Get them back into the spirit of collaboration and they are more likely to connect with others.  They will even start leaning on their colleagues for support. Rather than slowly burning out in silence.

Communicate with intention

Nearly $40 billion are wasted every year in the U.S. workforce in unnecessary meetings. Think about it – how many meetings and discussions have you suffered through? Could they have been replaced with an email or two?

As inboxes and calendars fill up, employees are forced to work extra hours. Just to manage their workload. Wordy, redundant emails waste time, as do meetings without set agendas. Communicate frequently with your team, but do it well. Be succinct and purposeful, and your employees will thank you.

How to tell if an employee is burnt out

How do you identify if an employee has a performance issue or is truly burning out? The signs vary by individual. But here are a few telltale symptoms of an overwhelmed employee.

They disengage

Do you have an employee who is usually the first to speak up with great ideas, but has recently fallen silent? Burnout may be to blame.

Likewise, an extrovert employee suddenly withdraws from activities and stays glued to the desk? Have a candid conversation with them. Reassure them that you value their contributions and want to help them.

Productivity decreases

Noticed a drop in output from one of your team members who is usually the most punctual in work completion? It is time to conduct a burnout check.

Employees who typically complete their work well and on time, but are missing deadlines & making careless errors may need help. May be offering them help in creating balance in their work life could be beneficial.

Pessimism and complaining

Sure, we’ve all had gripe-fests at work where we let off a little steam. When an employee who is usually positive, has only negative things to say about the company – dig deeper.  See if burnout is at the heart of their pessimism.

Watch for telltale statements like “I’m never going to get this project done” or “No one will notice if I finish this project anyway”. Take the opportunity to ask what’s getting them down and how you can help.

How to help an employee who feels burnt out

If you know that an employee is feeling the burn, it’s not too late to help them enjoy their work again. It takes some investigation and persistence on your part, of course. But exceptional employees are hard to find and well worth the effort.

Find the root cause

Don’t assume that you know the reason behind an employee’s sudden lack of engagement. While the issue may be compounded by a heavy workload, it might also be stemming from something else. Maybe a personal or health reason.

Without violating their privacy, ask your employee how you can take some pressure off at work. While they solve an issue in another part of their life. The gratitude and subsequent effort they will give back to the team once they are fully engaged again is a hefty return on your small investment.

Offer something new

When we have employees who do a certain job very well, we unwittingly “pigeonhole” them into that task. If your employees perform the same duties over and over and are starting to show signs of burnout, find a new project or responsibility and ask if they would be interested in taking it on. You’d be surprised how many employees are refreshed by a simple switch from the monotony of their regular workload.

Lead by example

Are you regularly working all hours of the night? Sending emails to your team outside of working hours? When was the last time you took a vacation? If you present yourself as a workaholic, unable to create a work-life balance, your team will be hesitant to create balance for themselves. Lead by example and encourage your team to find balance and rest.

Although burnout is not uncommon, it can be addressed. Know the signs of an overwhelmed employee and be ready to help them resolve burnout. Engaged employees are productive employees.

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