- Job burnout seems to be more prevalent than ever in today’s workforce.
- What’s sad about job burnout is it can be identified and prevented.
- As a business owner it should be your responsibility (as well as your employees) to anticipate burnout with their employment.
- You just have to be alert and aware that sooner or later, job burnout will set in with those who work for you.
According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.
"Burnout" however isn't a medical diagnosis. And while some experts believe other conditions, such as depression, are behind burnout, additional researchers suggest that many people who experience symptoms of job burnout don't believe their jobs are the main source.
Whether this is the cause or something else, job burnout can affect your employees’ physical and mental health. That is why it is up to you to consider how to you can recognize job burnout in those who work for you, and from there, come up with a solution to apply to the situation.
What are the symptoms of job burnout?
As a business owner/manager, it is your job to lead your company to success as well as diagnose problems when your company (or your employees) ails.
So if you suspect job burnout among your employees, or even yourself, look for the symptoms:
- Have your employees become cynical or critical at work?
- Do your employees seem to drag themselves to work and have trouble getting started?
- Do your employees become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
- Do your employees lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do your employees find it hard to concentrate?
- Do your employees lack satisfaction from their achievements?
- Do your employees feel disillusioned about their job?
As a business owner/manager, this is about as far as you can go with your employees before you begin to trek into their personal lives.
Sure, you’d like to ask your employees who seem to suffer burnout:
- Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
- Have your sleep habits changed?
- Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?
The problem is as a manager, you’re not allowed to legally ask these questions. Sure, you can ask, but that depends upon what sort of relationship you have with your employee(s).
However, it is almost a given an attorney will advise you against asking these questions. As is, if you suspect something is wrong in what you observe of your employees that should be telling enough that not all is good with your team.
With that, it is now time for you to take action.
What are the causes of burnout?
As the Mayo Clinic’s publication explains, job burnout can result from various factors such as:
A lack of control.
A worker’s inability to influence decisions that affect their job such as their schedule, assignments or workload can lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources your workers need to complete their work.
Make an effort to give your employees more freedom to dictate their own schedule, or allow them to pick assignments that can interest them more. And always make certain your employees have the adequate resources for their job.
Unclear job expectations.
Do you clearly explain the expectations you have for your employees depending upon what their job is?
If you're unclear about the degree of authority you have or what you expect from your workers, your employees are not likely to feel comfortable with their jobs.
Double check with your employees as to whether or not they completely understand what their jobs are and the results you expect of them.
Dysfunctional workplace dynamics.
What is the atmosphere of your business? Is it friendly to clients and employees, or is it teeming with stress and ill will?
Take note of the feelings your business projects to your employees. You may find there might be compatibility issues between them and their jobs which will need your immediate attention.
Extremes of activity.
When a job is monotonous or chaotic, a worker needs constant energy to remain focused. This focus, however, is not meant to be on boil for an entire 8-hour period at one’s job.
If this is the case with your employees, instill in them the need to take frequent breaks from their tasks. Or, arrange for your employees to switch up their jobs and/or hours so that they aren’t doing the same thing over and over again one week after the next.
Lack of social support.
A lack of support is another root cause of worker stress and eventual burnout. You need to show an interest in what your employees do. If they have a question, follow up with them ASAP. Or, if they don’t know how to do something, show them.
Don’t let your employees feel isolated at work and in their personal life. The results may lead to more stress.
If your employees’ work takes up so much of their time and effort that they don't have the energy to spend time with their family and friends, this can definitely lead to burnout.
To prevent this, you should schedule regular outings with yourself and your team. Give a generous amount of time off as well. Or make Fridays a shortened day. This way you can alleviate the burnout that goes with working too many hours.
And now, here are the 6 best ways to prevent burnout in your employees.
- Evaluate your options.
Allow your employees to discuss their specific concerns with you. You should also work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Compromise with your employees about setting goals for what must get done and what can wait.
- Seek support.
Whether your employees reach out to their co-workers, friends, loved ones, or even you as their manager, support and collaboration will help them cope. Recommend to your workers that they utilize an employee assistance program if they feel stuck and unable to approach you. These and other relevant services can help with employee burnout.
- Try a relaxing activity.
Either suggest or help involve your employees in exercise programs that can help alleviate stress. This can include group runs or cycling, or more gym-related activities such as yoga, meditation or tai chi.
- Get some exercise.
Ad you suggest exercise programs to your employees to help relieve their stress, you should also make sure to do your part in making that program a regular even for your employees.
Offer a gym membership to your staff (of course in which the gym will discount you the membership dues for signing up multiple individuals).
Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also take your mind off work.
- Get some sleep.
Don’t get too personal, but at least suggest to your employees that they not worry about work during their off hours, and instead try and sleep as much as possible to mitigate their stress.
Remember, sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health.
This may not be for everyone, but mindfulness is a great way to alleviate stress and stave off burnout.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment.
Both you and your employees should keep an open mind as anti-burnout options are considered. From your end, as demanding as their jobs are, you need to make certain they are rewarding jobs. This alone will be the best preventative to workplace burnout.
Whether you’re a manager or an employee, burnout should not be part and parcel to anyone’s job. It should instead be regarded as a very serious condition and be prevented at all costs.
Do this by carefully monitoring your employees to ensure they are not suffering burnout. If so, be creative with them. Consult with and offer suggestions to them.
You should work with your employees as if you and they are teammates who seek an ultimate goal, and that is the strong preservation of your company’s workforce.