Stressed. Overworked. Saddled with uncooperative team members. Unappreciated. Dealing with overbearing managers or administrators. Problems at home.
All of these issues can cause employee burnout, which can seriously impact the job a particular individual performs and can easily lead to unhappiness and – eventually - resignation. That’s why managers and others in charge need to be on the lookout for signs of such employee fatigue and, once recognized, must take steps to combat this burnout.
But how? Doesn’t everyone experience this now and then? Won’t they eventually get over it?
Not always, experts say. Burnout is one of the top reasons for leaving a job, but also one of the most avoidable reasons, if higher-ups simply remain on the lookout for its signs and act immediately.
What kind of actions indicate burnout?
When you have an employee who’s been exemplary and has always worked his or her hardest, that’s when it’s easiest to spot burnout. When a dedicated employee is burnout-out, they’ll exhibit the following behaviors, which will likely appear quite unusual. These include:
- Increased and unexplained absences
- Arrives late or leaves early on a regular basis
- Becomes argumentative
- Appears easily frustrated
- Shows a marked decrease in productivity
- Begins to prefer keeping to themselves over socializing with others
- Shows adverse physical reactions like feeling sick or overly fatigued
Generally, solving the issues associated with burnout isn’t as easy as simply sending your employee off for a few weeks so that he/she can enjoy a vacation and some time away from the office. Usually, the problems associated with burnout are much more deep-seated than what a short hiatus can solve.
Instead, you – the boss – needs to reshape or restructure the individual’s work life so that they can become productive again and can once more enjoy the job they do.
Suggestions for avoiding burnout
One of the best ways to keep burnout from occurring is to keep the lines of communication open with employees. That doesn’t mean simply saying “my door is always open” but, rather, the team leader or manager must take specific steps to keep communication flowing.
This begins with clarifying an individual’s job description and responsibilities. If their job responsibilities are vague from the get-go or if they’re getting requests and “orders” from a number of different managers, the waters get muddied and the employee is confused and frustrated.
Once you are sure the job description is concise, be sure to also recognize the employee’s work and acknowledge them for a job well done. If there are problems, learn how to accentuate the positives while helping solve any issues that might exist. Build them up, don’t cut them down, even if there is room for improvement.
Good communication also means meeting with employees on a regular basis, both as a group/team and on a one-on-one basis. Encourage them to discuss work environment, their workload, their goals, and any difficulties they may be experiencing.
Motivation is also essential in the fight against burnout and efforts to motivate should be ongoing. Again, appreciation brings on motivation so give your thanks often and show your appreciation in different ways, like providing a special mid-morning snack or lunch for those who’ve been working extra hard.
Also encourage them to use their time off to refresh and nudge them to take their appointed breaks and lunch hour. It’s easy to lose motivation when you’re working every minute of your 8-hour shift. Everyone needs some downtime.
Of course, money is a huge motivator, so make sure the company is offering its best possible package to each employee and encourage a raise for a job well done whenever possible. Bonuses, awards, some sort of tangible prize – they all serve as motivators, even non-monetary kinds of perks.
Training is also important in keeping the burnout monster from appearing. As a leader, you can probably recognize when your employees are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or inadequate. When those feelings occur, it may be because the employee has not received the proper training necessary to do their job well.
This could include all types of training including that which teaches specific skills associated with the job as well as training for soft skills such as time management, teamwork, achieving work-life balance, and similar.
Sometimes, the manager/leader requires some extra training as well so as to recognize what he/she needs to do to conquer a burnout situation. So, think about some coaching for yourself while you’re lining up training for others.
For all of these needs, consider one-on-one coaching rather than expensive, time-consuming conferences and workshops. The 1:1 option allows for flexible learning, can be done at any time, and is ideal for someone struggling with a workload that already seems overwhelming.
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