Happy employees are productive employees. They help your business thrive, they come up with great ideas and they contribute to the company and their teams. This is an ideal situation that all employers strive for.
But the flip side is when employees become burned out. Through overwork, lack of recognition, and other causes, employee productivity stops in its tracks. It’s a situation that makes life difficult for managers because burned out employees are much more difficult to manage. It helps to understand what causes burnout, signs that employees are experiencing burnout, and what you can do about it, with these tips from one of the leading staffing firms in Nashville.
Signs of Employee Burnout
Basically, you’ll notice a personality shift in your workers. If you can identify it and intervene before full-on burnout by catching the warning signs, you might be able to salvage a previously great employee. Look for any of the following signs:
- Increased sick days. These could be a result of actual illness, or “playing hooky.” But increased requests for time off are one sign an employee has had enough.
- Apathy and lack of engagement. Someone who once volunteered ideas and contributed to conversations (inside and outside of meetings) has now fallen silent.
- Being Absent. Along with lack of participation, a burned out employee no longer joins in with coworkers. This can include not participating in off-work events (like happy hours), arriving late and/or leaving early.
- Quick to anger or frustration. Burned out workers are more on edge, plain and simple. They become quicker to negative emotions, with a tendency to snap when pushed. They may say things like, “Who cares?” and, “Why bother?”
What Causes Burnout?
What can lead a once-happy employee down the path to burnout? According to recent research, burnout is most often caused by:
- An unsustainable workload. Employees may be ready and willing to tack on a little more to help you get past a hump. But with too much for too long, burnout can slowly creep in.
- Perceived lack of control. This may be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic or something else that’s going on within your company.
- Insufficient rewards. When employees feel they’re doing work that isn’t being adequately recognized or rewarded, they can get worn down very quickly.
- Lack of support. Not enough information, no answers to their questions, failure to provide backup when they have too much on their plate… all of these situations can create an impression of not enough support.
- Lack of fairness. Maybe yours is a hybrid work model, with some employees in the office and others at home. Your in-office workers may notice the benefits of working from home, or your at-home workers may notice they’re missing out on perks of being in the office.
- Mismatched values and skills. If an employee is assigned to a project or role that doesn’t fully utilize his or her skills, or one that’s outside of his or her skillset, burnout can quickly occur.
What You Can Do
To help employees who are already burned out, or those who are inching close, you can take the following steps to make things better:
- Adjust workloads. Talk to the employee about what help they need, and make changes.
- Recognize hard work. With a simple thanks, an email or posting about it in a company newsletter.
- Encourage communication. Let your employees know it’s OK to ask for help if and when they need it.
- Be flexible. The same solution doesn’t work for everyone. Be open minded when you talk to employees and provide options based on what they need.