Take steps now to avoid employee burnout.
Offering extra support and helping your team prioritize are two ways to help prevent burnout among your employees. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled employee burnout as a “workplace phenomenon.” According to the WHO, burnout is characterized by depleted energy or exhaustion, increased negativity toward work, and reduced efficacy. If you’ve spotted the signs of employee burnout at work, here are five steps you can take to address it.

Identify the cause

The first step to managing employee burnout is identifying the root cause. According to Gallup, these are the five most common factors causing employee burnout:

  • Unfair treatment: Unfair treatment at work can look like favoritism, bias, or mistreatment by other co-workers. This unfair treatment causes employees to distrust their managers and co-workers.
  • Unmanageable workload: Even high performers will struggle to maintain a good attitude toward their work if they feel they have an unmanageable workload—and this isn’t always related to the number of hours an employee is working.
  • Unclear communication: Employees need clear and consistent communication from management so they feel equipped to perform at work. Without it, employees may become frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Lack of support: Employees will often experience burnout if they feel like their manager and team members don’t support them.
  • Unreasonable pressure: Unreasonable deadlines can cause a snowball effect where one missed deadline causes employees to fall behind on other tasks. If employees feel they don’t have enough time to finish their work, they are likely headed toward burnout.

Offer extra support

While a lack of support can lead to burnout, Gallup also found that employees who do feel supported at work are 70% less likely to experience burnout regularly. Encourage employees to focus on their well-being by regularly taking time off and prioritizing self-care.

Routinely take time to check in with your employees to find out how they’re doing personally and professionally. If you sense that an employee is experiencing burnout, you can offer a resource like teletherapy or meditation sessions.

If the position allows for it, you may also consider offering hybrid or remote work schedules to employees. Gallup found that employees who have greater job flexibility tend to work more hours each week while maintaining a higher level of well-being.

[Read more: Most Effective Employee Retention Strategies for Small Business]

Gallup found that employees who have greater job flexibility tend to work more hours each week while maintaining a higher level of well-being.

Help your team prioritize

In an effort to look busy, some employees may end up taking on trivial tasks that aren’t really part of their job. Busy work doesn’t help the company, and it can cause employees to work longer hours than necessary.

These behaviors inevitably lead to burnout, lost productivity, and demoralization. Encourage employees to prioritize only the most important work and to avoid busy work.

And when you assign your employees a job, explain how it contributes to the company’s bottom line. Set deadlines that incentivize only the most valuable deliverables, and encourage your team to sign off when those are done.

Encourage connection at work

Burnout isn’t solely caused by overwork and exhaustion — it can also be the result of loneliness and isolation. According to one study, loneliness can take two forms — emotional isolation from a lack of close relationships, and social isolation from the absence of interpersonal connections.

Encourage employees to build social connections at work by scheduling team lunches or planning team-building activities. Bring your team together for some kind of social activity each month. And give your employees a chance to share wins and give positive feedback to one another.

Focus on a sense of purpose

Finally, employees are less likely to experience burnout if they feel their work contributes to the company’s mission. Employees want to feel like the work they do matters and that they are working toward something bigger than themselves. Remind employees of the company’s mission statement, and show them how the work they are doing contributes to it.

[Read more: Benefits of Writing a Higher Purpose Statement for Your Business]

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