Employee burnout is like a virus you can catch at work. Anyone is susceptible to catching this bug. It comes on gradually and before you know it, you’re down for the count. Thankfully, it's possible to take preventative steps before it's too late.
Workplace burnout often leads to others catching the virus due to being inundated with constant complaints about any of the following:
“I don’t even know what they want from me on this project.”
“This wasn’t in the job description.”
“I wasn’t trained on this, how do they expect me to do it?”
“I can’t stand working with ________”
“I’m so bored. My work is so monotonous.”
“I can’t even think straight, I have to do the work of two people.”
“I can’t seem to find a good balance. My life feels like a whirlwind.”
“I know how to do my job. I can’t stand that they micromanage my every move.”
“My manager expects Rome to be built in a day.”
“I’m underpaid, undervalued, overworked, etc.”
You get the idea. These are just a few examples of what a burned out employee might be thinking and discussing with fellow co-workers which has the potential to poison the work pool and lead to others catching the burnout virus. Whether it is one employee or several, your company is losing money and gaining a bad reputation amongst the employees and the customers who interact with those said individuals.
But let’s not focus on the financial bottom line here. The reality is that 9 out of 10 times these are good employees but something is amiss and an attentive owner or manager can identify the signs and address the issues before the burnout becomes full blown.
Communication is key
Whether you suspect an employee is struggling or not, regular ‘check-ups’ are necessary for everyone’s happiness and success. Demonstrate that you actually care about how they enjoy their experience with your company.
Develop trust so they’ll be honest when there is an issue. Ask clarifying questions to find out how well things are going with fellow employees. If there is a bad apple, deal with it so it doesn’t rot the rest of the bunch. Find out how they feel about their work and the load that it entails.
It is vital that the appropriate amount of work is assigned to them for a balanced level of stimulation, not to mention, a manager needs to know if they are even a good fit for what the employee is being asked to do. Display a genuine interest in their family and hobbies. This will help you identify if there are issues outside of the workplace.
Aside from healthy check-ups, there are so many wonderful things that a company can do to create an environment that an employee wants to be a part of. Here are a few tried-and-proven suggestions that can lead to happier employees:
- Stock up the break room with goodies
- Surprise everyone with breakfast or lunch every now and then
- Holiday weekend coming up? Why not close up shop at a half day?
- Create a break room that people find enjoyable, peaceful, relaxing, etc.
- Hire a trainer to come in for personal development training or send employees to a conference
Dos and Don'ts:
- Don’t micromanage
- Don’t neglect your employees and their needs
- Don’t be difficult to talk to
- Have regular check-ups
- Be very efficient in training
- Define a suitable workload WITH the employee
- Encourage breaks and stress relievers
- Identify what makes them awesome and let them know, genuinely
If you do any of the above, employees will take note that you are creating value just for them. A little goes a long way especially if you care about what kind of environment you’re creating and the experience those individuals will have in it.