Since the WHO declared burnout an ‘epidemic’ in 2019, learning how to reduce employee burnout became a top priority for firms worldwide. Burnout, a buzzword with real-life consequences, wreaks havoc on health and wellbeing, not to mention business efficacy. As a workplace phenomenon draining £900 million from the UK economy every year, burnout could be the difference between business success and failure.
Before learning how to reduce employee burnout, firms must first have a clear idea of what it is and how to spot it.
What is Employee Burnout?
American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger coined the term ‘burnout’ in the 1970s to describe a syndrome ‘caused by excessive and prolonged stress’. According to the NHS, burnout can result in a variety of dangerous and unpleasant symptoms, from tearful and emotional outbreaks to insomnia and heart palpitations. Burnout makes employees 63% more likely to take a sick day, and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.
These human consequences make treating burnout hugely important. Businesses must also learn how to reduce burnout due to its massive impact on the workplace.
How Does Employee Burnout Affect the Workplace?
Of course, employees facing mental, physical, or emotional exhaustion does not make for a healthy working environment. Employee burnout decimates productivity, quality, and punctuality, as well as the goods and services produced. Not only does this limit a firm’s output, but it also lowers customer satisfaction. In competitive or customer-service-focussed business, employee burnout lumbers firms with a huge disadvantage going forward.
Lower productivity and efficacy means employees miss deadlines and workplace goals, placing their jobs at risk. Burnout also makes an employee far more likely to seek another job. A Gallup study found that burnout makes employees 2.6 times more likely to search for another job, which creates a massive knock-on effect on departures and employee churn.
When employees leave on bad terms, this worsens a firm’s reputation. It also costs swathes of training time and money to replace. Even then, replacing burned-out employees only fixes burnout’s symptoms, not its causes.
What Causes Employee Burnout?
As employee burnout has such a huge impact on the workplace, identifying the causes of burnout becomes a top priority. Addressing this priority helps employees and their managers, as both parties want to get the job done smoothly.
Unsatisfactory work environment – variety is the spice of life, and if workers feel trapped in monotonous or unrewarding tasks, burnout becomes inevitable. While specialisation forms a key principle of business efficiency, failure to ensure employees thrive in their specialisation creates a ticking burnout timebomb.
Excessive workload – businesses always tread a tricky tightrope: pushing employees to achieve their very best and pushing them too far into burnout. An unmanageable workload makes employees 2.2 times likely to experience burnout. This can make even the most ambitious and proactive employee bitter and disillusioned, taking a huge toll on a firm’s long-term prospects.
Unclear or unfair management – proper management is crucial in keeping a firm burnout free. Reforming management should therefore be top of the list when learning how to reduce employee burnout. Employers should work to stave off favouritism, bias, and general unfairness as they more than double the chances of burnout. Unclear management also leads to confusion, wasted resources, and frustration among the workforce, when employees lose sight of their objectives and their workplace purpose.
Learning How to Reduce Employee Burnout
In each case of employee burnout, workers pay the emotional toll, and employers face a huge financial toll on the business. Although employees suffer from burnout, this is an employer problem. Improving the structure and quality of a workplace provides the chance to support wellbeing at every stage. Supportive wellbeing culture makes for a more ethical and more profitable firm.
Timetabling – streamlining and optimising a firm’s rota helps defeat time pressures and ensures each team member is ready and able to support the firm’s goals. Investing in a robust time and attendance system thereby improves efficiency and tackles employee burnout. This also helps firms ensure praise worker punctuality and ensure fair holidays. As absenteeism often stems from burnout, time and attendance systems provide tools for predicting and addressing burnout before it develops.
Improving managerial communication– Communication is the key to ridding businesses of employee burnout. By listening to their team, employers can address and rectify the causes of exhaustion and distress. By fostering an open-door culture and ensuring that employees see their suggestions put into practice, firms protect their workers from burnout.
Increasing autonomy and mission-focusses work – As monotony breeds burnout, giving employees a choice between clear goals improves workplace output. Rewarding each achievement gives employees a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. An appropriate degree of autonomy also builds trust and lets workers prove their skill. Letting employees choose their goals decreases burnout by 55%.
In conclusion, investing within the business and refining its operations with smart systems can help employers develop strategies to reduce burnout and improve their firm.