Many jobs today are rife with stress, despite career passion. As a team leader or manager there are ways you can help reduce pressure that could become unmanageable and lead to employee burnout.
A survey of 1,000 U.S. professionals by analyst firm Deloitte found 87% of participants have passion for their current job, “but 64% are frequently stressed, dispelling the myth that passionate employees are immune to stress or burnout. And 91% of respondents say having an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration negatively impacts the quality of their work.”
The survey also noted that “nearly 70% of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization.”
Burnout is an intense state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with lack of confidence in competency or value at work and is a significant cause of why dedicated employees leave an organization.
“As a leader, learning to recognize the signs of burnout is key to preventing it,” according to “8 Impactful Ways to Avoid Employee Burnout” on Zenefits.com. “Signs of burnout include: lack of motivation, cynicism, frustration, impatience, disillusionment, change in eating or sleeping habits and cognitive problems.”
Also watch for employees frequently missing work, or not taking their vacation time and working too many hours.
Author and blogger Neil Patel, recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations, recommends simple steps that can help your organization actively prevent burnout and retain valuable workers.
Keep the workload manageable. It may seem self-evident, but when assigning projects, be realistic about what will challenge but not overwhelm.
Make creativity an important outlet. “Flexing your creative muscles helps you maintain the necessary mental fitness to keep up in the workplace,” according to “8 Impactful Ways to Avoid Employee Burnout.” Making sure your employees continue to exercise creativity will keep their minds sharp, keep them engaged, and increase their motivation.”
Allow downtime. Patel believes it is important to both ”allow and encourage your employees to have a full one hour lunch as well as 15 minute breaks throughout the day. They should use the time to take a walk, socialize, make personal phone calls or stretch.”
Support your team. Check in with them regularly. Listen to and address their concerns and get to know each employee on a personal level. This will make it easier to identify potential issues and correct any problems before they escalate.
Give rewards. “Surprise your team with a treat you know they will love after a tough week or meeting a stressful goal,” suggests Patel. “Mix it up with food, gift certificates, or allow them to leave early or have a party at work.”
Conduct team-building. “A team that plays together stays together,” says Patel. “Build team morale, inclusiveness and job satisfaction by scheduling company activities like snowboarding, go-kart racing, laser tag or kickball. Be creative and make it fun!”
Offer feedback. Meet with each team member and note successes and accomplishments, as well as areas that need improvement. Acknowledgement is crucial and excellent performance should be rewarded with bonuses, awards or promotions. Individual recognition will engage employees, increase job satisfaction and lessen the likelihood of burnout.
Let employees decompress. Vacation time, holidays and even “mental health” days are important to focus on personal matters and to recharge, but the Deloitte survey reported that 25% of professionals never or rarely take all of their vacation days. And about one third of respondents said they “consistently work long hours on weekends.”
The Washington Post highlighted some more extreme methods for enforcing time off, including paying employees an additional bonus to take vacation time, shutting down company-wide for certain periods during the year, and even “making the desks disappear” by clearing the office of furniture every night at 6pm, all in an effort to encourage employees to “get out” and use their personal time when the workday is over.