What is Employee Burnout?
Employee burnout is an issue that can affect employees at any level in any industry. If not detected and addressed early on, burnout is a condition that might progress in severity until it seriously affects the mental health and motivation of a workforce — and eventually the overall productivity of a business.
According to a survey by FlexJobs and Mental Health America (MHA), 75% of people have experienced burnout at work. Specifically, 40% say that they’ve experienced burnout during the pandemic, and 37% are consistently working longer hours than usual since the pandemic started.
Employee burnout used to be considered an employee-specific issue that could only be solved through a list of self-help options, such as yoga or meditation. However, applying these small self-help solutions to a rapidly moving workplace may not fix the systemic problem.
Read more: Types of Risk in Project Management
What Causes Employee Burnout?
As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), employee burnout is an issue resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s characterized by exhaustion, reduced professional productivity, and/or cynicism towards new work — or the workplace in general.
These are some common reasons employees may experience burnout within their jobs:
- Tight Deadlines and Time Pressures: If an employee misses a deadline, they fall behind on the next tasks they were scheduled to do.
- Unmanageable Workloads: Employees will quickly shift from optimistic to hopeless as they drown in an unmanageable workload.
- Lack of Clear Communication: When job expectations are unclear or inconsistent, employees become frustrated and exhausted.
- An Unsupportive Manager: If an employee has an absent or negligent manager, it can leave them feeling uninformed, alone, and defensive.
It’s important for you to recognize when a team member is be burnt out with their current workload. Keep an eye out for these obvious signs of burnout in your workforce to safeguard your staff and keep your business running smoothly.
Common Indicators of Employee Burnout
Inability to Focus
As employee burnout sets in, the team member finds it increasingly difficult to stay focused on their tasks. They may find themselves unable to choose a task to work on, or unable to complete a task.
In the early stages of burnout, the employee feels a lack of energy, and becomes tired most days. In later stages, they may feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted. They feel a sense of dread about what lies ahead on the next workday.
At first, they may experience mild symptoms of worry and tension. However, as the weeks go on, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes with the employee’s ability to work productively. It may also cause problems in their personal life.
Weaker Physical Health
Burnout doesn’t only affect mental health; it can also impact physical health. When your employee’s body is depleted, their immune system becomes weakened — making them more vulnerable to colds, the flu, and other immune-related medical problems.
Lack of Motivation
At first, this symptom seems very mild, such as not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave. The team member may even find ways to avoid working entirely. Without any workplace intervention, they may experience a cycle of pessimism in that spreads to other aspects of life, including time spent with their family and friends.
Poor Work Performance
Despite long work hours, the stress from burnout can prevent an employee from being as productive as they once were. This often results in incomplete projects and an endless to-do list. To the employee, it may seem like no matter how hard they work, they will never be able to crawl out from beneath the mountain of tasks. Worse yet, they may find themselves repeatedly making mistakes.
If you find a team member experiencing any of these symptoms, this should be a wake-up call that you are creating a work environment that induces employee burnout. Take some time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your team’s lives, and find ways to reduce it before it’s too late. Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some real changes in your business.
How to Prevent Employee Burnout
It’s never easy, but one of the best ways to prevent employee burnout is discussing the issue. As a manager or business owner, you need to listen when employees complain of burnout. Aside from taking steps to balance employee workload and resources, you can encourage your team to practice self care. Some simple ways to prevent employee burnout are:
- Avoiding mandatory overtime, so employees always get a good night’s rest
- Encouraging team members to use vacation days, and take time off if needed
- Making sure there is open and transparent communication in your organization
- Allowing team members to take mental health breaks throughout the workday
How Collaboration Tools Reduce Employee Burnout
The easiest solution to reducing employee burnout would be implementing a project collaboration tool that can organize your workflows and collaboration processes.
TRIYO provides a comprehensive solution to streamline your business operations and minimize repetitive tasks. With TRIYO, employees can fill out information regarding the number of hours they have worked on a project, and the estimated time they will spend on their current tasks. TRIYO captures this information to provide relevant statistics on the Insights Dashboard. This allows managers to balance workloads and easily assess what employees have the bandwidth for additional tasks. You can also automate your daily tasks by creating project templates with pre-defined tasks that appear weekly.