In May 2019, the World Health Organization declared employee burnout as a legitimate yndrome linked to chronic workplace stress. Burnout can be the result of prolonged periods of stress and pressure in the workplace, with those suffering experiencing exhaustion, lack of engagement and reduced productivity .
Exhausted burnt-out employees are more likely to take time off sick or even look for another job, which in turn brings recruitment and training costs. And struggling employees may ordinarily be engaged and productive employees that are invaluable to your team.
The good news is that team members that have experienced burnout can get back to be a productive employee, with support.
Some reasons for burnout, but not all, are:
When employees are overworked and pressured without having adequate support, they may experience burnout. And nobody is immune to burnout, passion for your job doesn’t stave off burnout either. It is likely that the more dedicated to the job, the more workload and job-related responsibilities weigh on the mind.
Recognising it isn’t always straightforward but as a manager, there are things you can look out for. Some of the common symptoms are:
Dealing with fatigue and burnout in your team is always challenging but if you believe a member of your team is struggling, acting on some of the tips below will hopefully help you support your employee.
Understand the cause
Have an informal, open and honest conversation to try to understand what they’re going through. Try to avoid making assumptions, and create an open space for them to tell you what is going on. Ask questions that help to disclose how they are feeling and what is making them feel overwhelmed. Probe if necessary and don’t be afraid to ask how something makes them feel and why.
Sort through the workload
If your team member tells you that they’re exhausted or that they’re constantly behind schedule, take time to create a list with them of all their tasks and projects, both recurring and ad hoc. Help them prioritise. Be prepared to ask them what they think might help, take items off the list and take ownership of delegating them elsewhere or putting them on hold if necessary.
Ensure variety of work
When a team member is particularly good at something, it can mean that all these tasks are given to them rather than shared across the team. Mix it up a little bit by allocating different work occasionally, or make some time for them to shadow colleagues, innovate or even look at training course that they are enthusiastic about.
Reflect on your behaviour
As a manager your own behaviour sends a message to your team. It’s important to take care of your own mental and physical wellbeing in order to be able to help your employees cope with stress. Whilst sometimes uncomfortable, question how your management style and actions may impact your team.
Being aware of the potential of burnout and taking a pre-emptive approach is far easier and better than retrospectively trying to fix the issue. It’ll save you a lot of headaches and organisational costs down the road.
There’s no magic strategy to follow to prevent employee burnout and fatigue. But being proactively open, supportive and helpful toward your team members will go a long way to not only to help prevent burn out but to drive productivity.