June 30, 2021

5 Signs of Employee Burnout and What to do About it

Sam Caucci

Employee burnout tends to be confused as a talent management issue or personal problem (tired, disengaged, lazy) but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you find that your employees are exhibiting these characteristics, it could be because of something you’re doing. 

In fact, a study conducted by global analytics firm Gallup found that only around 32% of employees are “engaged” at work (meaning they feel involved, enthusiastic or committed at their job). 

This can be an indication that their workplace environment is not up to par in some way, shape or form. Gallup found that the top five reasons for burnout include:

  1. Unfair treatment
  2. Unmanageable workload
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from higher ups
  5. Unreasonable time pressure

These reasons indicate that employee burnout is not a personal issue that can be solved with yoga, meditation and breathing exercises. Instead, the solution lies in the hands of leadership. Managers and others in leadership positions should be knowledgeable about the signs of burnout and issues that their employees may face outside of work (such as economic challenges, health concerns and unstable work environments). 

Signs of Employee Burnout

A majority of employees who experience burnout will still show up to work, so being aware of changes in attitude and energy levels can help you identify burnout early before it has a chance to snowball into other, more serious health issues. Employees themselves might not recognize when they are experiencing burnout, and might just think that they are struggling to keep up. The difference is that stress is an anxious feeling while burnout feels more like helplessness or apathy. 

Some symptoms of employee burnout include:

  • Lower levels of morale or motivation
  • Reduced efficiency and energy
  • Increased frustration and irritability
  • Health issues like frequent headaches
  • Increased amount of errors
  • Working more hours with less being accomplished

Severe burnout can cause:

  • Self-medication using alcohol or other substances
  • Debilitating self-doubt
  • Sarcastic or negative attitude

If burnout is left unaddressed for a long period of time, it can result in poor overall physical health, mental health issues like depression, or reduced job satisfaction to name a few. 

How Employee Burnout Affects Business

A Harvard Business Review article cites workplace stress as primarily caused by poor leadership and poor organizational practices. As a whole, employee burnout is an issue that needs to be solved from an organizational standpoint. 

Not only do the effects of burnout negatively affect your employees, but they can also impact your business. Again, according to Gallup, employees who are disengaged with their work have higher absenteeism, lower productivity levels and thus, lower profitability in the long run. 
Burnout is also one of the main reasons behind high employee turnover rates, which costs organizations in the U.S. up to $1 Trillion per year. Aside from the financial costs, employee burnout can also cause companies to lose their top talent since many managers tend to overwork their best employees. 

Preventing Employee Burnout

The impact of employee burnout on your organization is significant, so it’s important to try and prevent it from happening as much as possible. How can you do that? By investing in your employees’ wellbeing and keeping the following tips in mind:

1. Maintain healthy communication. 

Make it a priority to ensure that every voice at your organization is heard. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure that each one of your employees feels included and motivated. Try to hold one-on-one meetings regularly, and speak more about the positives rather than only talking about the negatives. Show your employees that you appreciate them and celebrate the small victories along with the big ones.

2. Eliminate obstacles. 

Managers need to make sure that they remove any obstacles that might prevent their employees from getting their job done. This can include creating fair workloads, schedules and not adding any unnecessary stress to their team members. In addition, you should also make sure your teams know what their top priorities are so that they know where and how to divide their attention efficiently.

3. Always set realistic goals and expectations.

Work with your team to implement realistic goals and expectations that can help keep everyone stay motivated and productive. It’s good to challenge your employees so that they raise the bar, but if expectations are too high then this will promptly cause burnout.

4. Encourage a healthy work-life balance.

While setting realistic goals, you should also try and set clear boundaries for working after hours or at home, or during time off. Realistic goals will help your employees manage their own life outside of work, and prevent work from “coming home with them”. As a leader, you should strive to support your employees’ well-being both inside and outside their job.

5. Encourage breaks. 

Allow your employees to take breaks during their work day, and be proactive with how everyone is feeling. If it’s been a particularly stressful day you can choose to let everyone off early, or to extend their lunch breaks. Schedule weekly team lunches or outings to help relieve stress, or you can even take meetings outside as walking meetings. Or you could schedule in some team building games for the office. All of this will help everyone reset and feel refreshed so the organization as a whole can be rejuvenated and help prevent work burnout. 

Avoid Burnout With 1Huddle

A gamified training platform is another great way to help prevent burnout, set clear boundaries and expectations with your employees, as well as boost morale and engagement within your company. 1Huddle can help you create a seamless training environment for your employees while keeping things light and fun. 

All of your employees will have the ability to access their training anywhere, anytime, and at the push of a button. This helps make training engaging and kept up-to-date. You can use our game platform to measure their performance and make key decisions on where you should take your training next. 

Do you want to learn more about how 1Huddle can help you level up your own workforce?  Request a demo today.

Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO at 1Huddle

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