According to new research from Fortune Forum, approximately 41% of surveyed workers in the United States suffer from burnout. This figure has risen over the last two years, and burnout is impacting employees physically and mentally. While burnout might sound like a new term, it actually comes from the 1970s. In 2019, the World Health Organization recognized burnout as a sign of chronic stress in the workplace.
As an employer, you may have already noticed signs of burnout in your organization. If so, it's not too late to make changes that avoid common problems that stem from this ongoing issue.
What does employee burnout look like?
Employee burnout has a number of side effects that may emerge during work. Even if you don't notice signs of burnout in your employees at first, it's important to note that some employees may hide their feelings. They may be hesitant to express discontentment because they have fears about the current job market.
Here are some of the most common signs that employees in your organization are experiencing burnout:
Disconnection from work
Workers who experience burnout feel less connected to the workplace. Employers and managers may notice that their employees aren't proactive or dedicated. This is a sign that employees are not feeling passionate about their current projects. In some cases, employees show signs of quiet quitting. They may express that they feel unappreciated or overworked before they begin contributing less to their current projects.
Lack of concentration
You may start noticing that some employees aren't giving their work the same attention they used to. They might make more mistakes, or they might start to complain that they aren't able to focus. This could be the result of major stress or a workplace that is loud, cramped, or uncomfortable.
Increased behavioral concerns
If your employees seem to have more behavioral issues than they used to, burnout might be the cause. Burnout can cause irritability and anger. Employees experiencing burnout may disregard workplace regulations and rules.
Strong desire for additional opportunities
Burnout commonly presents when employees don't feel that they have access to additional opportunities. They may express disappointment that they aren't considered for promotions or that training programs aren't available to them.
The impacts of employee burnout
Employee burnout has major implications for workers as well as for the job market. These are some of the ways in which employee burnout could impact your workplace:
More employees are looking for new jobs
One of the most significant impacts of employee burnout is that more workers are looking for new roles. Research shows that about one-third of workers are looking for new positions in 2023. Many of these individuals cite a toxic previous workplace as the reason why. Good employers can attract new talent looking for better opportunities by demonstrating the benefits their workplace offers.
Employees have expectations for the workplace
When employees leave behind their previous roles, they want to know that they'll have a better experience elsewhere. This means that employers need to take strides to improve employee resources and provide benefits packages that not only attract new employees but also retain them.
Employee burnout affects more than the job market. In fact, it can also affect your ability to provide high-quality goods and services for clients. Burnout can cause employees to leave their positions or to quiet quit, which means you won't be working with the same steam you had previously. When your organization is no longer able to complete projects, it can impact your income.
Increased use of sick days
Burnout takes a physical toll on employees as well as an emotional one. Stress can have long-term physical effects, including chronic pain, exhaustion, and lowered immunity. That lowered immunity can lead to frequent illness, particularly during cold and flu seasons.
"Good employers can attract new talent looking for better opportunities by demonstrating the benefits their workplace offers."
How employers can prevent employee burnout
Employee burnout is everywhere, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, you can take several steps to ensure that you are addressing the issue of employee burnout before it even becomes a problem within your organization. Here are a few methods you can use to address the problem before it spreads:
Offer scheduling flexibility
One feature workers are looking for is flexibility in scheduling. Employees who feel that they have some freedom to change their work schedule are less likely to experience burnout. Workers want to feel that they have freedom, whether they feel sick and want to call out for the day or they need to stay home with a sick child. If you can provide this freedom, your employees will feel like you're taking care of them.
Option for remote work
When remote work is an option, some employees prefer it. In fact, some people believe that one of the reasons for the high levels of burnout is the fact that so many workers were required to return to the office on a full-time basis. Many employees express that they can continue to do much of their work from a home office, and some say that they are actually more productive at home. Where possible, you might consider allowing a flexible work option where employees can clock in from home several days per week.
Offer a vacation policy
A great vacation policy can make a big difference in the workplace. Paid vacation time can provide a way for employees to get some relief from stress. Not only should you consider offering paid vacation, but you might also consider offering an incentive for employees to actually put their vacation time to use. Additionally, organizations can provide clear communication about paid time off and provide easy steps to show employees how to take advantage of it.
Reduce employee workload
Many workplaces are experiencing all-time burnout highs because employee workload has increased significantly in some industries. In situations where employees take on higher workloads out of necessity, employers can provide helpful resources that make the job less stressful. This might mean that you hire more staff members or better divide job responsibilities for each role in your organization.
You can also reduce employee workload by promoting a healthy work-life balance. Employees want to feel like they have an identity beyond work. You can promote a healthy balance by ensuring your employees are able to take the weekends off and that they aren't pressured to take work-related phone calls after hours.
Recognize a job well done
Employees often experience burnout because they do not feel like their efforts are regularly recognized at work. While an award ceremony is not necessary for every job well done in the office, you can recognize achievements verbally, in newsletters, and with small rewards.
Provide opportunities for training
When employees become bored, they are more likely to experience burnout. You can avoid boredom and your employees feeling stagnant by offering some training opportunities. Your team will have access to classes and seminars that boost their skills and help them seek advancement within your organization.
Employee burnout is a problem no workplace wants to deal with. If you begin to see employees disconnecting from work or notice an increase in employees looking for new roles, it's time to take action. One major key to finding a solution is to listen to the needs of your employees and demonstrate that you notice their concerns.
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