How to Identify and Manage Employee Burnout
Employee burnout is an important issue which is still not being spoken about or dealt with enough. Despite the media making claims frequently that the job market is improving, they type of jobs that are coming up are still leaving people in a stressed out state. The need to relax goes out both for the company and its employees alike. One of the worst outcomes for organisations as a result of employee burnout is the loss of productivity and talent.
How to Identify Signs of Employee Burnout
If you are in a managerial position and you happen to notice any of your employees displaying any of the below-mentioned symptoms, it needs to be tackled fast.
- An employee seems to be feeling tired and drained out most of the time
- An employee falling sick often
- An employee complains of frequent headaches and muscle aches
- An employee no longer seems to care about the work
- An employee wanting to be left alone at work
- An employee is showing signs of procrastinating work often
- An employee resorting to prohibited substances to deal with pressures at work
- An employee stays irritable most of the times
- An employee coming in late and leaving early
- An employee becoming increasingly cynical and negative
- An employee who feels no sense of accomplishment or pride
A lot of these signs mentioned above can be seen within software developers. The software industry is a difficult industry, as it is controlled and funded by people who most of the time has absolutely no clue how it works or refuses to acknowledge how it works, and thus it leads to a lot of miscommunication and problems with perception.
Let’s consider an example. Many times in a software project we hear the business development guy asking a developer: How long is this feature is going to take? Since the software developer needs to provide an instant answer, he or she most of the times gives a guesswork based response by giving an arbitrary number such as two weeks. This puts him further in a tight spot as now he has to work day in and out to implement that feature within two weeks irrespective of the risks of many bugs showing up. This is nothing but a sheer recipe for disaster.
Health Impact of Employee Burnout
Employee burnout is a global issue, and some countries in Europe are trying to take some corrective measures such as limiting the working hours of employees in a week. It is indeed an irony that a developed nation like the United States is one of the worst offenders of employee burnout. It does not guarantee its employees paid vacation and paid parental leave. It is high time that everyone needs to step up and take the health impact of employee burnout seriously. Let’s take a look at some of the damages that stress may cause to the human body.
- A recent study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation revealed that there is a direct correlation between stress levels and cancer. The study said that researchers tested an anti-cancer drug on two different groups of mice. The group of mice that was under more stress was able to destroy less of the cancer-causing agents as compared to the non-stressed out mice.
- Another study conducted at the Yale University revealed that stress could make your brain shrink, which is indeed very scary. However, the scariest part of the study was that the part of the brain which shrunk as a result of stress was the part which is responsible for dealing with emotions and self-restraint. This meant that such individuals are likely to respond in a worse manner in future stressful situations.
- Research has proved that when children are under stress, it can make them age faster! Studies revealed that the cells in five and 10-year-old kids who were stressed were growing much more rapidly.
- It is, in fact, a well know the reality that stress eventually leads to depression.
- Research further stated that chronic stress is same as smoking five cigarettes a day. The search results displayed that people who were stressed were 27% more likely to be prone to heart attack.
How Can Organisations Prevent Burnout of its Employees
Employee burnout is certainly not a healthy sign for organisations as it causes loss of productivity and even leads to losing out on talent. Here are a couple of things that organisations can do to improve the lives of its employees:
- Encourage side projects which give your employees a sort of breather by giving them time and space to don their innovative caps. It seemed to work amazingly well as some of Google’s best outputs originated as an outcome of this program.
- Adopt a flexible approach with your employees by providing them simple perks like taking calls while on their way to work and time offs. It has been observed that organisations which promote flexibility end up getting more output from their employees.
- Promote a sense of perceived autonomy as it creates happier and more productive employees
- Encourage transparent communication as it helps in maintaining the happiness of your employees. Also, provide regular feedback to your employees to ensure that they are improving and they get a sense of how they are performing at work.
- Encourage team building activities as it boosts the morale of the team and gives the employees a sense of inclusiveness. It also gives employees the opportunity to know their peers better in a fun environment.
- Avoid micromanagement, as the amount of stress that micromanagement may bring about ranks the highest, and it is one of the primary causes of employee burnout.
How Can Employees Prevent Themselves from Burnout
Instead of waiting for your manager to fix things for you, why don’t you try and fix it yourself? Here is a couple of simple ways in which you can help yourself:
- Learn to relax and let things go. If you learn to do this, you will never have to deal with burnout. Perfectionists suffer the most, as they feel never satisfied and always end up overworking. So, it is ok to just relax.
- Maintain a good work-life balance by taking some time off. It is also very important for your mental health.
- Pick up the habit of regular meditation and see the benefits for yourself.
- Get clarity on your roles and responsibilities. By avoiding any confusion in this segment, you can avoid burnout to a great extent.
- Learn to be assertive and to say no when it is required. You will never be able to do everything, and by taking too much work, you will lead yourself to burnout. So, it is ok to say no at times.
- Spend quality time with friends and family, and nothing is a better stress buster than this.