Ensuring employee satisfaction and health is one of the most important things you need to consider as a business owner. Whether your staff are working in an office space or whether you practice remote working — especially during this Covid-era — it’s crucial that your employees aren’t suffering from unnecessary levels of stress, which could lead to feelings of burnout.
What is burnout?
The Mayo Clinic describes burnout as a very specific type of work-related stress. It includes “physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity”. While it isn’t a medical diagnosis it can be linked to other, more serious, conditions such as depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, excessive stress, and fatigue.
Burnout can also be the reason behind feeling cynical or critical at work, feeling unmotivated, lacking productivity, and feeling dissatisfied about your job. It’s been reported that 23% of 7,500 full-time employees polled admitted to feeling burned out more often than not, while a further 44% stated they feel burned out sometimes. If these feelings of burnout aren’t addressed by the employer, it can cause staff to look for other jobs elsewhere.
Some studies have predicted that it costs six to nine months’ salary, on average, to replace a salaried employee, so it’s in your best interest to retain your employees as much as possible by easing any chances of them feeling overworked whether in the office, or working from home. Here are four approaches that can help to reduce burnout in employees:
1. Invest in resource management tools
A lack of control and extreme work-life imbalance are two main causes of burnout. If you fix these, you could be well on your way to ensuring a happier, healthier workforce. Investing in a resource management system will give you, your management, and their teams a better understanding of how much work is realistically being done on a weekly basis. By tracking projects and team availability, you can make informed decisions about who is overworked and who maybe has more time on their hands. Precursive, a specialist resource management tool for Salesforce, explains that managing resources ahead of time can help to reduce staff burnout as capacity planning and utilization tracking ensures projects are only allocated to those with genuine availability and expertise.
With these insights, you’ll be able to deliver realistic timeframes to your clients, ensuring that your team isn’t constantly overwhelmed with tight deadlines. It will also allow you to spot any areas that could be improved and streamlined. For example, there may be processes that can be simplified to save time and effort, allowing employees to focus on other, more valuable tasks.
2. Offer flexible work schedules
The way we work has changed dramatically since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, so much so that almost 60% of people want to continue working from home indefinitely. However, while the idea of not having a daily commute, working in the comfort of your own home, and saving money on travel in the process are undeniable perks, there are many pitfalls to not working in an office. For example, working from home makes it more difficult to separate your work and personal lives, which can eventually contribute to feelings of burnout. That said, working from an office doesn’t offer a clear solution to this problem.
Rather than focusing on a flexible working environment, consider offering flexible working schedules. While still working their contracted hours, allowing employees to choose their own schedule can help them to adapt work around their personal lives. For example, they may find that they’re more productive in the afternoons and early evenings, leaving mornings free for their own time. On the other hand, earlier starts mean earlier finishes, which may work in their favour.
3. Educate staff of burnout warning signs
It’s not always possible to see the effects of burnout in someone else. With this in mind, it’s important that you regularly educate your workforce on the warning signs, whether this is through meetings, emails to the company, or even one-to-one meetings to discuss workloads. The common early signs and symptoms of burnout include:
- Mental, emotional or physical exhaustion
- Loss of enthusiasm about work
- Reduced work productivity and performance
- Increased levels of anxiety
- Mood swings
4. Offer support to employees
Schedule in regular meetings between employees and their supervisors, opening up channels of communication and giving managers the chance to oversee everyone’s workload, stepping in to help if necessary. These regular meetings can also encourage employees to speak up if they need any help, ensuring that any feelings of burnout are caught early and the right help is offered.
It’s also important to set boundaries and ensure that all team members stick to these, including taking regular breaks, promoting the use of annual leave, and discouraging any overtime. Promote the idea of maintaining a healthy work-life balance by encouraging staff to switch off from work as soon as they’ve finished for the day. This means turning off email notifications on phones, or even handing out company devices, such as phones and laptops, so that employees aren’t relying on their personal computers and phones for work when they’re outside the office.
Preventing burnout in your team is not a difficult skill, nor is it that expensive to implement. It’s more about establishing a mindset within your company that champions work-life balance and employee wellbeing. Follow the guidance above and you’ll soon see the benefits of having a happy team. Remember, work smarter not harder.