Longer hours and heavy workloads are the norm in today’s business climate, and as a result, many employees face work burnout. This reaction to constant stress and pressure often manifests as a long-term feeling of exhaustion coupled with decreased interest in their job and the company as a whole. Burnout becomes especially apparent when people are consumed by work worries even when they’re at home.
As an employer, you should be mindful of how work burnout could affect your employees. This situation often results in decreased work performance, a lack of interest in the caliber of work completed and, eventually, your loss of some valued people. Frequent causes of burnout are performance expectations, lifestyle choices or even personality traits, but it’s most important to recognize the signs.
Common indicators of work burnout include:
- The feeling of having little to no control over workload.
- A lack of reward, recognition or appreciation for high performance.
- Unrealistic job expectations.
- Monotony in the day-to-day workload.
- Investing the majority of time into work, with little relaxation or social opportunities.
- Taking on too many responsibilities, both in and out of the workplace.
- Lack of sleep and an improper diet.
- An expectation of or demand for perfection.
There are many other potential contributing factors, so you want to pay attention to employees’ attitudes toward their jobs, the work environment and other employees. As a business leader, you can’t be cognizant of everyone, so put the onus on your managers to keep an eye out for developing problems.
Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure your employees remain happy with their jobs while performing at a high caliber. Try these:
- Incorporate paid mental health days. Allow your employees to take time away from work just because they need a break. By offering paid mental health days, employees won’t feel the need to call in sick and create an excuse for their absence. Mental health days will show employees that you’re aware of job stressors and have an understanding of the pressures they face.
- Be realistic with workloads. When assigning tasks, be mindful of the time and effort required. While your employees should be challenged, they shouldn’t be overwhelmed.
- Accommodate outside commitments. Showing your employees that you value their work-life balance will go a long way. Encourage them to take time off be present for their family and friends on special occasions or in emergencies. You don’t want people to feel like they have to sacrifice too much to get work done.
- Encourage side projects. Take a cue from Google and allow your employees to devote a period of their workday to a work-related project outside of their typical tasks. Not only will this allow them to take a break from their day-to-day routines, but your business could end up benefiting from a creative new idea.
Keep your finger on the pulse of your employees’ attitudes. Whenever you notice anything concerning, take the employee aside and show genuine care for their circumstances. If you’re pleased with an individual employee’s performance over a long period, be sure to support them when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
Remember: You can’t do this alone. Get management involved, as they’re closer to the ground and can identify problems. By spreading the need and objective to identify and abate work burnout throughout your team, you’ll create an environment of devoted employees who help each other through tough times.
Allison Hutton is an experienced writer, editor, communications professional, researcher and social media consultant. During her more than 15 years of communications and writing experience, Allison has worked with a variety of clients, from small-business owners to Fortune 500 companies. She has an M.S. in entertainment business, a B.A. in communication and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and four children.