Employee burnout has long been a problem, but it’s gotten even worse during the Covid-19 pandemic. Burnout can be defined as a state of exhaustion, both physical and mental, that arises as a result of extended periods of stress. Burned-out employees typically experience exhaustion, negative or cynical feelings about their work, and lower performance. Obviously, this is not good news for your employees or your company, but there are things you can do to help.
Employees aren’t always good at recognizing when they’re burned out, and they may be reluctant to communicate their feelings to you. Keep an eye out for uncharacteristic behaviors such as:
- Snapping or snarking at others
- Physical signs of exhaustion
- Negative comments
- Holding grudges
- Trouble with problem-solving
If you recognize signs of burnout among your employees, call a meeting right away. If just one employee appears burned out, a private meeting may be appropriate. But if you get the sense that burnout is becoming pervasive, schedule a group meeting instead. Talk through the current situation with your employees, encouraging them to speak openly about what’s going on. Together, figure out ways to change things in the workplace to take some of the stress off of everyone. Also, offer individual help, such as referrals to your employee assistance program.
Moving forward, make feedback a priority. Actively solicit ideas from your employees, and encourage them to draw attention to anything that doesn’t seem right. Schedule a monthly check-in with each team member to discuss any emerging issues. We suspect a continuous feedback loop will be a workplace trend for 2022.
Encourage teamwork. Think of new ways to spread out the workload and bring people together around common goals. Connect each assignment to the company’s larger goals to help each employee feel a stronger sense of purpose. When possible, assign tasks that play to each team member’s strengths.
It is also common for many larger companies to offer a stepping stone career. These are typically 1-2 year posts that allow employees to experience various parts of the business. It allows for broader management responsibility and reduces burnout and boredom.
Burnout can be serious, with major impacts to both the employee and the company. But proactive management can help alleviate burnout when it occurs and make it less likely to recur in the future.
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