What is Burnout, and How Can Employers Avoid It?

JetPay Communications

April 24, 2019

Despite their best efforts, there are many things business leaders simply can’t control. Indeed, executives and owners in every industry can only react to new government regulations, sudden increases in materials costs or unexpected natural disasters.

However, one thing leaders can control is how much effort they put into keeping their workers from burning out.

The reality is even the most dedicated staffers can fall prey to workplace burnout. Once that happens, a former A+ player can become trapped in a downward spiral that sees their productivity and job performance plummet. Even worse, burnout can greatly damage an employee’s overall health and well-being.

To address this important problem, here’s a closer look at burnout, what is it, how it can impact an organization’s operations and tips on how employers can address it.

What is Burnout?

The Mayo Clinic classifies burnout as a form of severe work stress — “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

The organization also notes while burnout is not an officially recognized medical condition, it does have identifiable causes and symptoms. Most commonly, it’s the result of employees feeling disconnected from their work and losing their sense of purpose.

If a staffer feels that they have no input into their ongoing workload, schedule or assignments, they can become disengaged and despondent. Furthermore, burnout can be the result of an employee feeling over- or underworked. If workers feel they don’t have enough time or resources to properly fulfill their roles, they can become apathetic.

Over time, the perception that an employer has unrealistic expectations of its staff can make employees question the quality of their work-life balance. Conversely, workers who find themselves unchallenged by their day-to-day tasks can lose their interest in their jobs.

Workplace burnout can occur when employees believe that their contributions are being ignored or that leadership isn’t providing adequate guidance.

The Symptoms of Burnout
Just as the causes of burnout can be uniform across different sectors of industry, so too are its symptoms. Managers concerned their employees are experiencing too much work stress should be on the lookout for:

  • Increased irritability and cynicism
  • Decreased productivity
  • Unexplained absences
  • Self-imposed isolation
  • Declining job performance
  • Missed deadlines
  • Tiredness
  • Tardiness/leaving early

While some of these symptoms can be difficult to identify, others, such as a new trend of irregular timecard punches, can be monitored via a quality time and attendance application.

The Impact of Workplace Burnout

Workplace burnout can have a negative effect on both employers and workers. For organizations, it means a decline in employee engagement, a development that has a significant negative impact on profitability.

A Gallup study found that disengagement-driven reductions in performance quality and productivity, spikes in absenteeism and increases in injury rates cost U.S. industry between $450 and $550 billion annually. Accordingly, the analytics firm found employee burnout is a widespread problem, affecting 23% of U.S. workers.

Along similar lines, excessive work stress can cause employees to experience fatigue, insomnia and depression. Moreover, it raises the risk factor for serious ailments like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Because of its immense financial and human costs, employers should make it a priority to combat workplace burnout.

How to Address Employee Burnout

Companies need to understand that addressing employee burnout is a holistic process. Systemic measures should be taken to foster a culture of communication, engagement and satisfaction. Similarly, individual staffers should be made to feel acknowledged and valued. Here some ways managers can prevent against and reverse the effects of workplace burnout.

Maintain open lines of communication: Fast Company reports that employees who have managers that are willing to listen to their concerns are 62% less likely to feel burned out than those that don’t. As such, leaders should maintain open-door policies with their subordinates.

That way, their workers will know their concerns are taken seriously and executives and owners can provide active support to staffers who are struggling.

Invest in your workers: Traditional wisdom holds that worker dissatisfaction can be resolved with a raise or a promotion, but the current generation of workers has different priorities. Millennials want to be well-paid but they also want to work for companies that foster their career development.

Consequently, leaders should provide their workforces with mentorship and training options, continuing education resources and opportunities to attend industry conferences. Doing so pays major dividends in terms of employee engagement, while also helping you develop more valuable employees – benefiting both your company and the employee.

Recognize hard work: When firms pursue elaborate long-term projects, it’s easy for leadership to find patterns of praising achievement and addressing shortfalls. However, to keep employees from becoming burnt out, managers also need to recognize hard work.

That means publicly acknowledging the efforts of individuals and teams that go above and beyond to ensure goals are met and thanking individual workers for their efforts. Managers should always recognize their staff’s hard work, even during crunch time.

Use a robust time and attendance application: Because of the deleterious effect excessive work stress can have an organization, management should be proactive in addressing it. One way to do that is to utilize a robust time and attendance solution like Workforce Today.

Workforce Today provides employers with reports regarding inconsistent time card punches, irregular attendance patterns and high rates of overtime. With those insights, managers can address instances of burnout before it begins to have a long term negative affect an employee’s productivity and well-being.

Contact us today to learn more about optimizing your organization’s human capital.

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