Managing Employee Burnout Effectively


Employees already experience burnout in normal work seasons. However, they are more susceptible to it during unpredictable, tumultuous times such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Deloitte’s Workplace Burnout Survey reports that 77% of employees have experienced burnout. This same report also says that employees do not feel that their employers are making enough efforts to respond to these issues within the company.

With employee burnout threatening not only business operations but also the health and wellbeing of team members, this issue urgently needs addressing. Organizations must have adequate and appropriate employee benefits packages together with healthy workplace culture.

Noticing the Signs

Employees will likely be unwilling to admit to superiors that they are experiencing burnout. Managers and human resource heads should be equipped to notice the following warning signs in employees:

  • Decreased workplace productivity
  • Frequent errors in work submissions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Increased work absence
  • Lack of energy
  • Indecisiveness
  • Irritability
  • Inability to take feedback
  • A negative outlook on work and life

When an employee starts underperforming without any known cause, check to see if they are showing signs of burnout.

Responding with Empathy

This current pandemic situation is stressful for everyone. Managers must be ready to address struggling employees with empathy and kindness.

  1. Discuss mental health

Mental health should not be taboo in the workplace. Signs of burnout or not, you need to be serious about these discussions so that employees understand that their well-being matters to your company

It is important to note that you are not a mental health professional and are not expected to act as such for your employees. What you must do is provide opportunities for them to gauge where they are emotionally invested.

For instance, some employees will not be comfortable speaking up front about their feelings. Give them a mood rating system instead. Have a scale from 1 to 10 or let them use colors to determine their emotional state for the day.

Of course, when employees are willing to speak about their struggles, you must be willing to listen to them. These efforts give you insight into how your employees are doing individually and collectively.

  1. Check on employees personally

When an employee exhibits concerning behavior, do not assume things about their situation. Speak with them one on one and let them know that you are doing so because you want to find ways to support them. Even when an employee seems to be performing just fine, it does not hurt to reach out and ask them how they are.

Talking to your employees gives you a chance to understand what problems they are facing and what the sources of their stress are. It also allows you to reassess your workplace culture and how you are managing your employees during this season.

  1. Open avenues for honesty

Reaching out to your employees certainly helps, but you should also allow opportunities for the reverse. Open your door to allow them to come to you for their questions, concerns, and even complaints. Two ways to do this are to adopt an open-door policy or send monthly anonymous feedback forms to your team.

  1. Lighten their workload

Many times, the unfortunate reality is that the weight of the workload you assign your employees contributes to their exhaustion. While securing as many clients as you can and working on numerous projects seem to be the keys to success for your organization, it could actually work against your business.

The more clients you take on, the more work your employees have to do. When this becomes unreasonable, they have to work double-time to reach the various deadlines for their deliverables. As they grow tired, your employees become less productive and less willing to take on new tasks—for good reason, too.

Do not take on more work at the expense of your whole team’s physical and mental health. Also, honor your work hours. Make it an office-wide practice to stop making or responding to work-related inquiries (unless it is an emergency) before and after your set work hours.

Simply, make sure that your work tasks and culture are not themselves the cause of employee burnout.

Protecting Your Employees

Helping your employees through the tough journey of burnout helps you maintain a productive work environment that runs smoothly. However, do not make this your sole focus. These uniquely challenging times are opportunities for organizations to step up and prioritize the human aspect of the workplace.

Remember that you and your employees are people with individual worries and responsibilities outside of work. This is the time to put the health and safety of your team first and profit second.

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