Why do more and more people seem to suffer from burnout at work these days? What causes burnouts at all? As a leader, understanding how to prevent your teams from burning out is crucial for you, your team members and your business.
Burnout is a state of total exhaustion.
Employees dealing with burnout feel exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally because of their jobs.
The exhaustion is likely to spread over to their personal lives.
People dealing with work burnout feel worn out and overwhelmed.
They feel frustrated and helpless, especially because they think that there is nobody they can approach for help.
As a result, they lose their work drive and enthusiasm.
They don’t feel connected to their jobs or to the people at work.
Most of the time, they think of nothing else except how to get out or escape from work.
You should take action to help your team look for ways to prevent burning out.
If you don’t do anything about it, more members of your team are likely to yield to burnout, especially when their work lives become more demanding, hectic, and stressful.
The first thing you should do is to learn how to identify the signs of burnout.
Common Signs Of Burnout
A worker dealing with burnout is likely to show the following signs.
- Lacks motivation. Seems to have lost his drive and enthusiasm for work. His productivity goes down for no obvious reason. Although he spends a lot of time at work, he seems to accomplish little.
- Has low energy. Always seems tired and listless. Frequently complains of headaches and fatigue. He also complains of struggling to fall asleep at night.
- Becomes emotional for no apparent reason. He seems irritable, sensitive, and suspicious. Doesn’t seem to get along well with people at work.
- Is unable to concentrate. He seems easily distracted. Commits more and more errors, even with tasks that he is already familiar with.
- Is prone to feelings of bitterness and frustration. He seems negative and exhibits a downbeat attitude towards his job and the people he works with. Seems indifferent about his job, his peers, and his superiors.
- Is often tardy or absent from work. He often reports late for work and is prone to calling in sick or missing work.
- Seems insecure. He seems to find work increasingly difficult. Has no confidence in his skills or abilities. Appears unsure of himself and hesitant to take on increased responsibilities.
Not all employees know how to deal with work burnout.
As a manager, you can watch out for these symptoms and help prevent your team from burning out.
You have to learn how to deal with work burnout.
Otherwise, you are likely to face the consequences below.
- Low productivity
- Low efficiency
- Higher incidence of errors and accidents
- Poor employee morale
- Breakdown in communication
- A higher rate of tardiness
- Increased absenteeism
- Increased turnover
Causes Of Burnout
There are many causes of burnout.
Every circumstance is unique.
According to experts, however, the causes generally fall into the following categories:
Personality plays a role in an individual’s likelihood to experience work burnout.
Some individuals are naturally inclined to feel burned out.
People who are negatively minded, sarcastic, or obsessive-compulsive fall under this category.
Perfectionists and over-achievers also tend to go through work burnout.
Difficulty In Keeping A Work And Home Life Balance
When a person feels pulled between his work responsibilities and his obligations to his family and friends, his work is likely to reflect this conflict.
The person is likely to experience burnout.
Work-Related Stress And Anxiety
A lot of work-related factors are likely to increase the possibility of work burnout.
These are the factors that you should pay attention to so you can prevent your team from burning out.
When you spend the time to find out the causes behind the burnout, you are in a better position to decide how to avoid it.
Look out for the following work-related factors that can trigger burnout:
Unfair Treatment In The Workplace
When your employees feel that you are not treating them all equally, there is bound to be resentment.
An employee who feels strongly that he is being treated unfairly may also tend to experience burnout.
There are many things that can trigger ideas of unfair treatment.
Among these are unfair compensation, unreasonable corporate policies, exploitation, favoritism, and bias.
When an employee does not trust you or his teammates, he is likely to feel a break in important psychological connections.
He will find it hard to see his work as fulfilling and meaningful.
The phrase “mental quicksand” is often used in sports psychology to refer to incidents of below-average performance that can weigh down athletes and destroy their self-confidence.
A series of defeats can cause athletes to perform badly in their next games.
A bad record can cause a loss of confidence and can continue to drag down performance after performance.
A seemingly unmanageable workload can do the same thing to your employees.
Even if your team members seem basically optimistic and high-performing, they can quickly feel desperate and hopeless when they are given unmanageable workloads to accomplish.
The Absence Of Role Clarity
Only a few workers admit that they know exactly what their bosses expect from them at work.
A big percentage of workers aren’t sure about expectations or accountabilities at work.
They simply try to figure out what their superiors want from them as they go along.
If you don’t discuss assigned tasks and performance goals with your team, they are likely to worry constantly about whether or not they are living up to what you expect from them.
This is likely to cause work burnout.
Lack Of Support And Effective Communication From Their Bosses
Constant communication and supervisory support give your team a psychological boost.
They feel that even when things go bad, you have their back.
When you assume an attack mode or negligent attitude towards your team, they feel uninformed, alone, defensive, and insecure.
Workers who don’t receive managerial support are 70% more likely to experience work burnout.
Irrational Time Pressure
When an employee feels that he is not given the time he needs to do all his work, he is inclined to experience work burnout.
It is inevitable for workers in certain jobs to have to work under tremendous time constraints.
A firefighter or a paramedic, for example, has no choice but to face up to the demands of his job.
It is interesting to note that these jobs are at significantly higher risk for employee burnout.
However, there are many cases when time constraints are made a must by bosses who don’t actually know how much time it takes to do high-quality work.
Don’t set unreasonable pressure and absurd deadlines.
You are simply setting your team up for failure.
The inability to meet a deadline can have a snowball effect.
If an employee misses an overly-aggressive deadline, he will not only drop behind on this particular project.
He may also find it harder to keep up with subsequent work schedules.
Stages Of Burnout
Burnout doesn’t happen overnight.
A person goes through several stages of burnout before he finally experiences total burnout.
Stage 1 – Honeymoon
This is the stage where a worker feels nothing but love and pride for his job. A worker shows the following:
- A high level of commitment and productivity
- Positive attitude
- Adaptive reactions to problems
- High job satisfaction
Stage 2 – The Balancing Act
The positive vibe is not that high anymore.
It is now mixed with the realization that not everything will go well.
During this stage, a worker will show indications of the following:
- Dissatisfaction with the job
- Inefficiency – errors, misplaced documents or gadgets, wrong decisions
- Complaints about not being able to sleep well
- Increased indulgence in smoking, drinking, eating, excessive TV watching, and other escapist activities [activities that temporarily take the mind away from the issue being faced] after work
Stage 3 – The Chronic Stage
During this stage, a worker will show the same symptoms like the ones in Stage 2, but to a higher degree.
He is also likely to exhibit the following symptoms:
- Chronic fatigue
- Physical health conditions
Stage 4 – The Critical Stage
The symptoms of work burnout become critical at this stage.
A worker shows the following symptoms:
- An increase (in both intensity and number) of the physical symptoms
- Obsession about work-related frustrations
- Marked loss of self-confidence
- Escapist mentality
Stage 5 – Toxicity
Here, the symptoms of work burnout are deeply rooted in the employee’s life.
People are not likely to see the person as a work burnout case anymore.
They are more likely to see him as a person with deep physical and emotional issues.
How To Prevent Employee Burnout
You totally want to prevent your team from burning out.
The key to preventing or reversing employee burnout is to change the way you lead and manage your team.
You have to find out the causes of burnout in your workplace – and address them as soon as possible.
If you fail to do this, you will fail at providing the right workplace environment for your employees.
The ideal environment is one that makes your team members feel their best.
It is one that motivates, empowers, and drives them to turn out excellent work.
Without the right environment, your team members will run low on the drive and motivation for work excellence.
They will find it difficult to make sound decisions or to be innovative and creative.
It will be difficult for them to provide effective quality control.
Also, they are likely to struggle with giving top-quality customer service.
The following are ways to prevent your team from burning out.
Learn To Spot The Signs
Effectively managing burnout in the workplace starts with being able to identify the early signs of burnout so you can do something about the problem right away.
If you are able to address the problem when the burnout is only in its initial stages, you have a better chance of resolving the situation.
Always Check In With The Members Of Your Team
As soon as you see the signs of burnout, arrange a one-on-one meeting with the concerned employee.
Be a good listener.
Make sure that your subordinate sees your concern and believes in your sincerity.
Take the time to discuss possible causes for the burnout.
Work out what can be done to resolve the problem.
Every employee appreciates being heard and having his feelings acknowledged.
Arrange follow-up meetings so you can monitor how your employee is doing.
Be Sensible When Assigning Tasks
When you delegate assignments to a subordinate, make sure that the tasks are challenging enough.
They should inspire your employee to work hard and use his skills to succeed.
On the other hand, make sure that the amount of work is manageable.
Give a realistic time frame for your subordinate to finish the assignments.
Don’t set impossible deadlines.
Keep work hours reasonable.
Be Fair When You Assign Workloads
Try to assign workloads as fairly as you can.
Farm out duties evenly.
Take the time to see how an employee reacts when you give him added responsibilities.
Be Clear About Roles And Expectations
Each member of your team needs to know what is expected of him.
Discuss job descriptions.
Everybody must have a clear understanding of his role and how he fits into the organization.
Build On The Team’s Passion
Assign each member of your team to a job that he feels passionate about.
Do not hesitate to re-assign capable employees to positions that will make the most of their interests and abilities.
Give The Necessary Support And Back-Up Resources
Make sure that the tasks you give are not too heavy for your subordinate to carry out by himself.
If you assign a really challenging task, make sure that you have the time to mentor your employee and provide him with the support and resources he needs to be able to do the job well.
Let The Members Of Your Team Flex Their Creative And Innovative Muscles
Make sure that your team has creative projects to work on to help prevent them from burning out.
Providing creative chores promotes mental fitness.
It inspires individuals to keep their minds sharp.
Keeps them engaged and increases their motivation.
It is important for avoiding burnout.
Monitor The Work Hours Of Your Employees
If an employee spends too much or too little time doing his job, this may indicate early signs of burnout.
Signs of near-burnout include high frequency of missing work, too much overtime, and refusal to take time out for recreation or vacations.
Persuade your employees to use their vacation leaves.
Teach them the value of recreation and rest.
Keep Your Team Members Engaged
A worker appreciates his job if he feels that he is contributing something worthwhile to the organization.
Take the time to sit down with team members to help them identify their goals and how they can achieve them within the organization.
Give them frequent feedback about how they are doing.
Ask For Ideas
A worker is less likely to feel burnout if he feels a measure of control over his job.
Ask for ideas about what can be done to make the job go faster and better. Give opportunities for flextime.
Consult employees before setting deadlines.
Acknowledge Good Work
Give recognition to top performers.
Show appreciation for significant contributions.
Provide Appropriate Training, Tools, And Other Resources
Give your team the necessary training.
Set them up for success.
Give them the resources they need to accomplish work objectives effectively.
Get Inputs From Your Team Members
Where possible Consult your team before making decisions that affect their work.
When an employee feels that you consider his thoughts and feelings irrelevant even on issues closely related to his job, this is likely to affect his commitment negatively.
It may even lead to work burnout.
Keep Communication Channels Open
Show your team that they have your support.
Set meetings where they can air out their concerns and look for ways to resolve their problems.
Call Attention To The Importance Of wellness
Help your employees achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Let them know that you are concerned about their physical and emotional health and general wellness.
Establish health initiatives and wellness programs.
Offer subsidized gym memberships.
Organize fitness classes in the office.
Arrange for your team members to attend classes in guided meditation, yoga, and mindfulness.
It is important for your team members to feel engaged in their jobs and connected with the people they work with.
One way to achieve this is by making the effort to develop meaningful interpersonal connections within your team.
When the members of your team like one another, they tend to be happier and more productive.
They are not likely to suffer from burnout.
They are not likely to think about leaving the company.
Don’t limit your attention to the operational aspects of work.
Encourage your team members to spend time socializing with one another.
Make Your Workplace A Fun Place To Work In
When your team members look forward to coming to work every day, this will help cut the likelihood of burnout.
Teach your team members how to avoid burnout even before they feel the problem.
Be an approachable leader.
If your employees feel that you are willing to listen to them and talk them through the difficulties they face at work, they aren’t likely to feel the buildup of stress that can lead to burnout.
Teach Your Employees How To Avoid Burnout
It is important to educate your employees about this potential problem.
Give them the information that they need.
Invite a mental health professional to give a talk on the subject.
When your team members are aware of the different aspects of work burnout, they are better able to spot the early stages of burnout.
They are able to find the means to address the problem or to seek help to cope with it.
Managing burnout in the workplace is challenging.
You have to deal with a variety of factors surrounding the issue.
If you succeed at preventing your team from burning out, however, the rewards are remarkably gratifying.
Have you had a team member show signs of approaching burnout before?
How did you handle it?
Please share your experience with us!
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