5 Ways To Address Employee Burnout

TED KITTERMAN

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DAPHNE LEE

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Ted Kitterman and Daphne Lee

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With Mental Health Awareness Week from May 13-19, the spotlight once again turns towards the pervasive issue of employee burnout in the workplace. In a world where the demands of professional life often clash with the necessity for personal well-being, organizations are increasingly recognizing the urgent need to foster environments that prioritize mental health. From large multinational companies to local start-ups, forward-thinking workplaces are spearheading initiatives to help their employees not just survive, but thrive.

Here’s what great workplaces are doing to help their employees build resilience and find balance in the aim of addressing employee burnout.

 

The immediate crisis of the pandemic has receded. But for many workers, the risk of burnout has never been higher.

In a recent report, 62% of women and 57% of men reported at least moderate levels of burnout. Those rates are much higher than what was reported in 2021, and are on par with levels reported at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

What’s causing the rise? Layoff anxiety, coupled with new pressure from management around profits and productivity, has workers doing more with less. In fact, an Aon and TELUS Health’s joint 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey in Asia possibly attributes this to also include cost-of-living challenges, rising healthcare costs, climate change impacts, geopolitical instability, and the increasingly complex and ambiguous nature of today’s workplace, which has been changing rapidly since COVID-19.

To combat the rising tide of burnout, many leaders are doubling down on resilience, pushing for mindfulness practices and psychological safety. Crucially, great workplaces understand that burnout isn’t something that an individual employee can control.

Root causes of burnout — overwork, a lack of autonomy, or a lack of community — are problems that must be addressed by the organization.

“Employers need to create a true culture of acceptance surrounding mental health and make it safe for employees to talk about it in the workplace,” says Tina Thornton, AVP, well-being and safety at Nationwide.

The insurance firm cites research from UKG: For 69% of people, a manager has more impact on their mental health than a doctor or therapist.

Employers have an outsized impact on the mental health of their workers, and burnout can have a disastrous impact on retention, productivity, and the bottom line.

Signs of employee burnout

When Great Place To Work® analyzes employee surveys, results show a few key indicators that workers are experiencing burnout:

1. Employees don’t trust management. Employees experiencing burnout are three times less likely to say leaders’ actions match their words.

2. Employees say they are micromanaged. Employees with burnout are three times more likely to say they are micromanaged in experience surveys.

3. Employees say they aren’t informed about the business. Employees feeling a lack of control over their work often express it as feeling like they lack important information. Workers with burnout are 2.5 times less likely to say they are kept in the loop with important updates about the business.

4. Employees don’t see their workplace as fair. Employees experiencing burnout were much more likely to respond to the question “What would make this a better place to work?” with phrases like:

  • “fear of retaliation”
  • “discrimination”
  • “remove favoritism”

Taking action against burnout

Here are some of the strategies that are having the best results for improving employee well-being and reducing burnout:

1. Train managers

An employee’s direct supervisor has an extraordinary impact on the well-being of the worker. That’s why many companies are focused on training their leaders to identify burnout and intervene.

Managers can prevent burnout by connecting employees to tools to manage stress, reassigning projects to ensure employees have a balanced workload, and providing coaching on how to prioritize tasks.

Leaders are encouraged to connect with employees in huddles and one-on-ones to identify when burnout might be starting. A crucial question to ask in these meetings: “How can I support you?”

2. Measure outcomes — not time spent

When you change how you manage your workforce, such as rewarding employees for completed projects rather than hours logged, workers can find a better balance.

3. Provide employees with tools to set boundaries

Leaders can play a role in ensuring their workers are able to unplug from demanding, client-facing roles. Without the extra communication to reset expectations for both team members and clients, an attempt to give all employees a week off wouldn’t be as successful.

4. Lean on resource groups

Social connection is a key ingredient in building resilience for employees. For many companies, supporting relationships across the organization is done through employee resource groups.

5. Reset expectations about post-crisis recovery

The pandemic offered plenty of lessons about the causes of burnout, particularly in the field of health care. One dynamic that stood out: Employees pushed past their limits to meet a crisis with an expectation of recovery time that never materialized.

 

Benchmark your employee experience

Worried about burnout in your workforce? Use Great Place To Work Certification™ to get unmatched data on how employees feel about their work.
https://greatplacetowork.co.id/gptwcertification/

 

DAPHNE LEE

Daphne believes in building community-relatable content, telling stories through narratives that add value in today’s workplace and in culture-building. Her idea of a great workplace is one that thrives on openness, support and inclusivity while building trust and working towards a common business growth and purpose. A journalist, she spent 15 years writing for trade publications, lifestyle magazines and broadsheet supplements.

TED KITTERMAN

Ted Kitterman is a content manager for Great Place To Work®. Ted has experience covering the workplace, business communications, public relations, internal communications, work culture, employee well-being, brand purpose and more. His work shines a light on the unparalleled data and insights offered by Great Place to Work’s decades of research, helping the company share its vision of a great place to work For All™.

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