It can often be difficult to tell that an employee is burning out until it is too late to stop it. By the time you notice a problem the employee may have had decreased productivity for some time, and they may have had issues with other coworkers. This can damage the corporate culture and lead other employees closer to burn out or to becoming disgruntled. This will lower their productivity and further damage the corporate culture. Burned out employees are more likely to take unplanned absences or even quit, which further hurts the company and the bottom line (finding and hiring a replacement can be expensive and time-consuming.)
Since employee burnout can have such far-reaching effects, it is best for everyone involved and the company as a whole to prevent burnout before employees start feeling the sting. Here are a few of the top reasons that employees may get burned out and how to prevent them.
Job Demands – With staffing costs being so high, many employees are stuck doing the work that might have once been shared by two people. Employees who have too many tasks may feel overwhelmed. Try to make sure that employees have the work that they can handle; redistribute tasks to other employees who may enjoy or be better suited to them if the employee handling them now is becoming overwhelmed. Employees may also be stressed out by their work/life balance, so it may help if you can offer some flexibility. Consider whether the employee could work from home one day a week or whether their work schedule could be altered.
Role Ambiguity – Do you have a written job description for each position? It may be tempting to follow in the footsteps of some start-ups and have vague titles like “Idea Engineer,” but it makes it confusing and stressful for employees. Have set duties for each position and let employees know what is expected of them. If you have a small business, it can be easy to lump administration duties and human resources tasks on employees who have no background in these areas. Instead, consider outsourcing these duties to a professional employer organization (PEO) or administrative services organization (ASO.)
Feeling Powerless and Under-Appreciated – Employees may burn out if they feel as though they have no decision-making authority or are not taken seriously. Make sure that employees know that they can go to supervisors with any concerns. You may also choose to implement a recognition program to make employees feel valued for their hard work. Just a simple acknowledgement or a ‘pat on the back’ from a direct supervisor can make employees feel more appreciated.