20 Jul Burnout is A Four-Letter Word at Work – Don’t Be the Cause!
Burnout. That seven-letter word is tantamount to a four-letter word in business. But the “do more and do it faster” pressure of the modern workplace can cause chronic stress or burnout resulting in real health problems for workers, which then leads to business problems such as poor productivity or lost business, which in turn lead to more workplace stress that causes more health issues for workers. Once burnout creeps in it becomes a vicious cycle that harms both your people and your business.
Burnout isn’t something that a personal holiday or company benefits or fun perks can fix. Companies need to do more to address the causes of burnout rather than the aftermath. The biggest cause of burnout is often managers who lack the training to deal with the many different types of people on their teams. Their attempts to mitigate employee’s burnout, no matter how well-intentioned, can inadvertently worsen the situation.
Seventy-six percent (76%) of employees experience at least a minor level of burnout at work, according to a recent Gallup poll. And while people are quick to blame the work itself, let’s take a step back and examine who molds the role. Who assigns tasks and responsibilities? Who provides (or withholds) feedback and praise? Managers.
The number one factor affecting burnout is not the type of work, nor the hours, but the quality of the employee’s management. If an employee is overly scrutinized, overloaded, brick-walled, or put under intense pressure at work, they can burn out. It seems obvious, but when companies are quick to just give our employees a day or week off without changing anything about the workplace behavior that fed the burnout, nothing changes and the situation worsens. That might even result in employees searching for employment elsewhere.
What can managers do? Often, they themselves are not supported or trained by their own companies. Their managers need to start by equipping managers with the knowledge and leadership skills they need, such as Business Results’ workshops. Additionally:
Giving your employees too many tasks or unrealistic deadlines only leads to stress, neglected tasks, or missed deadlines. Before delegating a task, consider what your employees can realistically accomplish in a given timeframe, and how much time they need to get things done.
Employees are people. Sometimes they have bad days or make mistakes. Provide constructive feedback about work, and listen when a larger issue is at hand, to proactively move on with next steps.
This is, hopefully, obvious, but treating employees differently, giving one special treatment, will only breed resentment and discontent. Be fair to all employees, and treat them each according to their needs.
Be clear in all employee communications. The workplace is no place for coded language. When assigning tasks, provide clear criteria and deadlines. Use less jargon, especially for newer workers.
Managers should organize documents and schedules prior to delegating tasks. Avoid unreasonable time pressure. Prompt responses to questions and requests allow work to continue and flow. It will also make your job easier to have everything together.