By Lindsay Zajac | Ahern, Murphy & Associates, Leader Exchange Facilitator
Employee burnout is a major challenge that companies face. One Gallup survey found that nearly a quarter of employees (23%) “feel burned out more often than not,” and another 44% occasionally feel burned out. Of course, employee burnout is a leading cause of reduced productivity, absenteeism, and turnover.
How can you help your employees to avoid burnout? While there’s no silver-bullet solution for every situation, here are 5 tips that can help.
1. MANAGE, DON’T MICRO-MANAGE
Employees want to be respected, feel a sense of purpose, and have a level of autonomy to do their jobs effectively. It’s been shown again and again that when employees have little control over their work, they are less engaged — and more likely to burn out. One of the most common culprits in this regard is a supervisor or boss who micromanages and tries to control everything that an employee does. While you should take an active interest in the performance of each team member, resist any urge to hover over them as they do their work, scrutinize every decision they make, or (even worse) work on their assigned tasks for them.
If an employee is struggling, then try to address the root cause, instead of the symptoms. Does the employee have the needed skills and qualities for the position? Has he or she been adequately trained? Instead of usurping the employee’s role in your team, use poor performance as a springboard for coaching and constructive feedback.
2. COMMUNICATE OFTEN
Employees thrive when there is a constant dialogue between them and their manager. Make communication with each team member a priority, and not just about work-related activities. For instance, ask your employee what he did over the weekend, or about a hobby he’s pursuing.
In addition, many successful managers schedule weekly or bi-weekly feedback sessions with their team members. This gives each employee a safe forum to express ideas, air grievances, or discuss career goals. When employees feel that they are heard by their managers, their morale enjoys a significant boost, and they are less likely to suffer work-related burnout.
3. INCORPORATE WELL-BEING INTO YOUR CULTURE
Many organizations believe that offering nice physical and/or financial perks to their employees, like a gym at the office or complimentary stock options, is the same as promoting well-being. The truth is, such perks aren’t very effective at preventing burnout when other aspects of the company’s culture emphasize metrics, deadlines, and quotas above all else.
Well-being needs to be more than a buzzword that gets thrown around. It needs to be an integral part of your organizational culture. For example, discussing each employee’s thoughts on work-life balance, and then accommodating their needs to the extent possible, will provide a far more significant morale boost than any “wellness program” ever could.
4. DESIGN WORK ENVIRONMENTS FOR FLEXIBILITY
In an ideal work setting, employees should be able to gather together at certain times, and enjoy a little solitary reflection at other times. The reality is that different people “recharge their batteries” in different ways. For instance, extroverts tend to feed off the energy that other people emit, whereas introverts need some “quiet time” in order to clear their head and recharge.
The concept of flexible productivity is one that you may want to adopt. If you establish clear goals and priorities for your team members and they are equipped with the knowledge and ability to do their jobs, then the specific hours they are working or how long they work each day becomes less relevant. Flexible productivity can also help employees that may be overburdened with remote learning, or trying to care for children and our elderly family members at this time. As long as they are getting their work done, affording them the flexibility to do their work at different times of the day can make a big impact on employee burnout.
Try your best to design a work environment that is as inviting, inclusive and supportive as possible. Your efforts in this regard will certainly improve your team’s morale, and make it less likely that they’ll burn out.
5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
If you are touting the “burnout prevention” talk, then you need to walk the walk, too. For instance, if you encourage your employees to take occasional 5-minute breaks throughout the day as needed, then you should follow your own advice, and step away from the desk when you need a moment to refocus.
Self-care is critical to recharging our batteries and something that leaders should emphasize. For instance, talk to your team about what you do to help manage stress or relax and recharge on the weekends. If you only talk about how much you are working and they see you sending emails late at night and on weekends, you are not promoting an environment where self-care is valued.
The best managers lead by example, and it’s no different when it comes to combating employee burnout. If your team sees your balanced approach to work and life, then they’ll likely follow — and they’ll no doubt be happier and more productive as a result.
Lindsay Zajac: BNP Leader Exchange Facilitator:
Lindsey A. Zajac is an experienced, Human Resources professional with a demonstrated history of excelling in fast-paced organizations including PepsiCo, Eaton Corporation, Saab Sensis and Next Jump. Training and Development, Talent Management, Employee Relations, Recruiting, and Succession Planning are Lindsey’s areas of expertise. Learn more about Lindsay.