How to Prevent Employee Burnout

10th November 2020

To say it has been a tough year feels like a huge understatement. How we live our lives and work has been completely disrupted by Covid-19.

Since March, people have faced restrictions to both their personal and professional life.

Now, as the pandemic continues, and we continue to face an uncertain future, the strain of the past few months is starting to become visible.

Analysis of 1.75 million employees suggested burnout risk reached a two-year high in August.[1]

While employee burnout risk has been steadily increasing over the past few years, in March that level shot up and has been climbing rapidly since.

This is hardly surprising as many people are starting to feel the mental fatigue of their situation and are finding it harder to separate their work and personal life.

So, what is employee burnout?

Employee burnout, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is an “occupational phenomenon” resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.[2]

The characteristics of burnout include:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • reduced professional efficacy
  • feelings disconnectedness from colleagues
  • Increased health problems

What causes employee burnout?

Burnout can be triggered by a number of factors, either combined or on their own.

  • a work life imbalance
  • lack of social support at work
  • unmanageable workload
  • a lack of role clarity
  • unfair treatment at work

On top of those factors is the ongoing global pandemic, which on its own would be enough to cause people to feel burnt out.

With the combined strain of remote working, high levels of job insecurity, feelings of isolation, a pressure to be always on – it’s no wonder workers are feeling overwrought.

How does burnout impact organisations?

When people are stretched beyond their limit for a prolonged period of time their mental health, wellbeing, and bodily health will suffer.

This type of mental and physical stress can lead to higher instances of absenteeism, presenteeism, work errors, and employee turnover, all of which are costly and damaging to company performance.

Analysis by Delottie found that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year.

Employees who often feel burnt out are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.[3]

Company morale, profit, performance and stability are also at risk if employee burnout is not addressed.

How can we tackle the problem?

When it comes to burnout it is better for your people, and smarter for your company, if you act early.

While it cannot be totally eradicated, organisations can take proactive steps to reduce the risk of it occurring.

By identifying the causes and putting in place preventative measures, you significantly reduce the risk of employee burnout while supporting the wellbeing of your people.

Here are three ways you can take steps to reduce instances of burnout.

1 – Listen to your people

While it might seem simple, and some organisations may feel they have this base covered with pulse surveys, it’s vital that you engage with your people regularly and in real-time.

Make space for them at the table by giving them a voice and a platform to reach out to you –  doing this will help you to better tune into what’s really on their mind.

A study found that employees whose managers were always willing to listen to them about their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burnt out.[4]

Your people know best what they need to thrive, so empower them to speak to you directly. They will highlight how you can make improvements to their work experience.

You’d be surprised how small changes can make a huge difference to their day.

By listening you can show your people their opinions matter and make a difference. This value can help your people to feel important, included and empowered to take ownership of their work.

Having a sense of ownership will help employees to feel more in control, thereby reducing the risk of burnout.

2 – Provide a secure way people can speak up

Talking about mental health, stress and wellbeing can be a challenge for some people.

The stigma around these topics can be enough to hold people back from speaking up over concerns it might impact their work reputation.

To help mitigate this and to make your people feel comfortable asking for support or guidance you should provide them with a way to speak up confidently at any time.

At Trickle we understand the importance of having this sort of universal access to support, which is why our platform offers its users optional anonymity.

Having this option in place will also help foster a psychologically safe environment where your people feel able to speak openly, ask questions, and raise more difficult topics.

Trickle makes having potentially difficult conversations easier.

3 – Communicate often and with transparency

Communication is a powerful tool in tackling burnout. As a business it’s vital that you communicate regularly and transparently with your people.

Being open with employees helps build trust and psychological safety, which means they will be more likely to feel able to ask for support or flag when something is wrong.

Regular communication from managers can help to clarify work expectations, invite dialogue from employees, and help build the sort of work environment where discussing wellbeing is normalised.

Tools like Trickle can make it easy for managers to interact with their people, see how they’re feeling and quickly get feedback on how the organisation is doing.

Ultimately, the more you reach out to your people the more they will likely reach back to you!

 

Find out more about how Trickle can help your organisation reduce the risk of employee burnout, get in touch for more information or to book a short 20 minute demo.

Alternatively you can trial Trickle absolutely free for 30-days, simply visit: https://trickle.works/freetrial/

 

[1] https://www.glintinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Glint-Oct-2020-Data-Insights-Report.pdf

[2] https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/

[3] https://www.gallup.com/workplace/237377/millennials-burning.aspx

[4] https://www.gallup.com/workplace/237377/millennials-burning.aspx

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