How to Deal with Employee Burnout
Last week we discussed the dangers of employee burnout and shared the symptoms that happen when employees become extremely stressed over an extended period of time. For employees, the journey of recovering from burnout begins with cultivating self-awareness, practicing self-care, and drawing healthy boundaries in both their work world and their personal lives.
But the change can’t stop there.
Because burnout is most often caused by situational factors, the potential for true change lies with company leaders. There are multiple ways leaders can manage, remediate, and prevent employee burnout.
There are a variety of reasons that employees experience burnout. In order to sort out the primary cause, you’ll need to spend some time observing the dynamics at play, asking lots of questions and listening attentively to your employees. While the specific solution for burnout will depend on the cause, the following suggestions are generally applicable.
Give employees your time and attention individually and as a group. Having regular one on one meetings with employees allows you to get to know them as people, hear their concerns and frustrations, check in on the status of their work, and provide coaching. It also communicates that you care and are there to support them. These actions reduce feelings of isolation.
Regular team meetings are important for giving you a larger view of what is going well and what needs improvement. These problem-solving meetings allow for gaps in resources and areas of friction to become apparent. It’s a great arena for identifying process improvements that will help the team function more productively and with less frustration.
Provide needed resources. Ask employees about what is making the work feel difficult and what, in a perfect world, would help the work feel more manageable. To the degree that you can, remove any unnecessary obstacles to getting the work done. Modify deadlines when possible or provide additional people power to the task that is causing the most strain.
In some situations, workers may need more skill development so they can do the work with confidence. In other situations, workers need some diversity in their work duties to keep them engaged and growing.
Once you have a handle on where the resource gaps are, look for ways to provide those supports.
If work loads cannot be shifted and resources are tight, acknowledging this and consistently showing appreciation and support can lift the team’s spirits and help prevent burnout.
Provide clarity. This may take a variety of forms, depending on the source of the stress. Stressed out employees may have unrealistic expectations of themselves or they may be treating every task with equal importance. Clarifying expectations and standards and delineating which tasks are priority can be extremely helpful. Among team members, clarity on each person’s roles and responsibilities can also reduce stress and confusion.
Support sustainable boundaries. While it’s great to have workers who will always go above and beyond, these are the very workers that run the risk of becoming burned out. Let them know you support work/life balance by encouraging them to stay home when they are sick and use their vacation time. If it’s been an especially hard day and it is feasible, send them home early. If at all possible, don’t contact them outside of work hours and consider limiting the overtime they are allowed to take.
Look for systemic issues. Take time to reflect on the broader dynamics that may be creating stress for your staff. Did something change to create heavier workloads? Are the demands of the job different from what they used to be? Are deadlines tighter? Are employees being asked to do more with less?
Change often sneaks up on us and doesn't become evident until we start to stumble. It’s easy to forget you’ve sustained a high workload for an extended period of time if you’ve been too busy to stop and take a breath. Finding these external causes can give clues to the solutions: it may be that you need to hire more staff, adjust customer expectations, automate tasks or streamline processes.
As with many things, an outside perspective can be very illuminating. Let G2 Solutions help you create strategies to improve the workplace so that you are promoting a more robust and resilient team.