You may find a stellar employee getting grumpy and consistently late for work on occasion. Productivity has decreased as enthusiasm has diminished. You're starting to get upset whenever you see this individual, and you're fed up with how the scenario is hurting your coworkers. Your best performers are delivering lesser output following weeks of back-to-back training. You may have observed an increase in applications for sick days. During meetings, your team members appear to be uninterested. All of these could, sadly, be early indicators of team fatigue or burnout.
Employee burnout is not a new phenomenon. It used to be very common. However, as a leader, you must acknowledge its existence. Unproductivity, a lack of composure, and a loss of concentration are just a few symptoms of a widespread plague sweeping the industry. Employee burnout entails more than simply taking a break or being momentarily fatigued by a challenging task. It's a form of long-term occupational stress that creates fatigue, irritability, and pessimism, all of which negatively affect an employee's professional and personal life.
Job-life balance, excessive work demands, problematic workplace dynamics, being in an emotionally exhausting career, or generally feeling out of control can all contribute to the condition. Burnout is more widespread than employers may realize: 75% of individuals have experienced it. The current stress of the COVID-19 outbreak hasn't helped matters; 40% of workers say they've experienced burnout as a result of the pandemic.
Signs and Symptoms
Employers can tailor their wellness program plan to avoid the problem from intensifying even emerging at all—by paying close attention to and checking for the most prevalent indications.
Employees may stop attending meetings, avoiding new projects, or failing to return emails and calls. Employees often lose excitement for their jobs as they become more disconnected from their surroundings, resulting in lesser quality work.
Employees may complain about feeling fatigued the moment they wake up in the morning or about sleeping problems. Those who are tired will force themselves to work and may be unable to start or concentrate on a task.
Employees who were once extroverted but have grown aloof may just be having a bad day or are under stress in their personal lives. However, if this isolation persists, or if previously social employees become upset when someone attempts to communicate with them, it could indicate a deeper problem.
Overworked employees are more likely to call in sick, and some people think that taking the day off will brighten their mood. Others use their vacation time to avoid stressful projects, bosses, and coworkers. Or, to evade interactions with colleagues and supervisors, some individuals may arrive late and depart early.
Chest pain, panic attacks, elevated heart rate, nausea, and headaches are all common physical indicators of fatigue and stress. Employees may lose appetite and even lose some weight, or they may gain weight due to using food as a stress relief.
Employees cannot concentrate on their jobs due to stress, and thoughts of being swamped and unable to try and keep up may make them feel as if their efforts are worthless.
Other symptoms include:
- Inability to focus
- Constant worry and anxiety
- Negativity or cynicism
- Lack of enthusiasm
What To Do
Sadly, there is no easy remedy for assisting your team in dealing with burnout. Sending them on vacation isn't going to solve the problem when they return. Their work, workplace environment, and emotional state all require significant changes. As the manager, you have tremendous power in these areas. You can transform your workers' work lives by communicating, encouraging, and leading them.
Do Not Assume
It's all too easy to approach an employee and assume you immediately know what the issue is. Try to stay away from that too. Instead of directing the conversation in a particular way, you want to establish open space for your team members to clarify what's truly going on.
Remember that it might be intimidating for employees to talk about their problems at work, particularly to their supervisors. They may be afraid of penalties or viewed as less dedicated than the rest of the team. Approach your employee with empathic inquiries if they appear to be having trouble establishing a conversation.
Offer Flexible Hours
Allowing them to work on more flexible schedules can be really beneficial. This allows them to focus on their needs and wants without constantly worrying about being online.
Allow staff to spend some time outside. You could even be able to bring laptops. If not, have a staff meeting outside or urge them to enjoy walking during their breaks. You could want to set aside an afternoon every quarter for a team picnic or other special outing. This is also an excellent time to think about introducing office equipment like desk bikes, desk risers, and sit-stand desks that encourage activity throughout the day. These provide them with variety and health benefits in their daily office routine.
Protect Their Time
If your team is overworked, one of the most important things you can do is safeguard their time. Allow your employees to decline tasks if they feel overburdened, encouraging them to manage their own workloads.
Recognize and Acknowledge
Appreciate your employees' efforts and express your gratitude. Be truthful, but consider it part of your work to look for these things, even if it's in the midst of routine activities. Perhaps you'll notice indications of hard work or achievement in an employee's customer service abilities or email etiquette. Find a cause to compliment the team regularly and let them know what you've noticed.
Consider What's Best For Everyone
Ask yourself what's good for the entire team is an excellent method to learn empathy. Individual experiences may differ. Taking a vacation or personal leave and disconnecting for a while is the best option for some workers. Others may require clarification of job responsibilities or the removal of something from their to-do list. For some, it may be to provide financial support if they decide to leave their employment. The second option can be difficult, but sometimes quitting a toxic workplace is the most incredible thing workers can do – and ensuring that you are supportive of their decision is the best possible thing you can do for them.
Don't Take It Personally
It's easy to mistake burnout for a personal shortcoming in your team, but this isn't the case. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, burnout can occur due to various circumstances. So, when you're teaching compassion and empathy to your team, make sure you're also implementing it on yourself.
Support Choice to Take Time Off
While forcing employees to take time off will not solve burnout, it will help to alleviate the symptoms. In reality, it may encourage some of your employees to take additional vacation days. If you have an incredibly stubborn employee, suggest that they take at least one day off per month to unwind.
When you send an email at 11 p.m., you're establishing a standard for what constitutes acceptable working hours. And there's a high probability that your team will be under stress. That's why you should take a breather and examine your own actions to ensure they're in line with the boundaries you've established for your team.
It's never easy to deal with team burnout. However, as a leader, you may spot warning indicators early and take proactive steps to resolve them. Follow any of the suggestions above. You should minimize the adverse effects of employee burnout and arise from experience with a better bond with your team.