Survey: Majority of Small Business Employees Feel Burned Out at Work

Pete Jansons

Vacation season is here, and it seems as if the majority of small business employees could desperately use one. According to new research from CareerBuilder, 3 in 5 workers at small businesses (59 percent) say they feel burned out in their current jobs, and 28 percent report high or extremely high levels of stress at work; however, nearly 2 in 5 small business workers (38 percent) have not taken or do not plan to take a vacation this year.

Of those who do plan to take vacations, many won’t be fully “unplugged” from work, and some will wish they hadn’t. Thirty-five percent of workers at small businesses say they check work email during vacation. Meanwhile, 37 percent of workers at small businesses have returned from vacation to find so much work for them, they wish they’d never taken a vacation at all. It’s no wonder that so many small business workers report high stress levels and burnout.

What does this mean for you?

Only 7 percent of workers at small businesses say their employers offer classes or programs to help employees manage stress. And while workers’ stress levels may not seem like a problem for you, think again. Employees reported anger issues at work, depression and sleepless nights among the stress-related symptoms they have experienced. These elements together can lead to decreased levels of morale, productivity and quality of work, as well as higher levels of turnover.

Help your small business employees manage stress with the following tips.

Clarify expectations. If your employees aren’t taking advantage of their vacation time, it may be that they are afraid to do so. Make it clear that when they are away from the office, they are not expected to answer every email and phone call. Have them set up automated messages to let people know they are away, and designate a colleague (or colleagues) to take over their responsibilities while they are gone. You want them to take every opportunity to rest and relax, so they come back to work energized and ready to re-engage in their work.

Offer flexible schedules. A poor work-life balance can lead to stress and burnout. Help employees find balance by allowing them to work remotely a few days a week or starting the day earlier or later. Many businesses employ “summer” Fridays, which give employees a few extra hours each week for personal time.

Show appreciation. It seems small, but recognizing your employees for their efforts can go a long way in preventing burnout. Your employees need reassurance that their hard work matters. Otherwise, they can become apathetic about their work, disillusioned and even resentful toward the company.

Provide support. There are plenty of affordable ways to help employees manage stress. Start by asking employees what they need to feel less stressed and work with them to make that happen. Consider having HR or an outside expert come in to talk to employees once a month about stress management.

Give employees a place to unwind. Designate an area in the office for employees to blow off steam or relax. Letting employees a few minutes each day to relieve some stress can go a long way. Whether it’s setting up an office nap room, or setting up ping pong tables and video games, ask employees what they want and try a few ideas out. They’ll appreciate the gesture, too.

Want more? Check out even more ways to prevent employee burnout and reduce stress.

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