At some point, every company will see employees feeling the effects of burnout. It could be due to excess stress, a heavy workload, or problems at home. Whatever the source, it’s an issue that needs to be handled by HR professionals quickly and efficiently. Employees work their best when they are happy and motivated, and for your business to succeed long term, your company culture needs to reinforce these attributes by preventing burnout.
The best way to keep the work environment positive and employees excited to return to their jobs each day is by focusing on benefits, mental health, and supportive guidance.
Before you can change your company culture to eliminate burnout, you need to understand what it is and how to identify when it happens. Essentially, burnout is when an employee is overwhelmed or stressed to the point that exhaustion affects their work and their personal life. Burnout must be handled immediately because if left unassisted, your company can suffer. What’s more, it can lead the employee to darker places, including feelings of depression and even suicidal ideation.
To reach struggling employees before it’s too late, HR must educate all managers on the signs of burnout so they can identify the problem immediately and take action. The signs of burnout are numerous, but they may include frequent headaches, a loss of appetite or change in eating habits, physical fatigue, and a lack of motivation. Though you may not be able to see all of these ailments directly, managers should be aware of when these issues affect the work of their employees while on the job. Often, someone who is exhausted and over-stressed will take more sick days or you may see a decline in their daily workflow.
Before giving a warning or bad review, managers need to have a conversation with the team member and determine if burnout is impacting their work. From there, the manager should refer the employee to HR.
It’s important that employees have a direct route to ask for help when they need it without having to jump through numerous hoops. That’s why managers and HR should have an open-door policy where employees can come in at any time and express their concerns. In addition to in-person visits, employees should also have an easy way to email or even contact management anonymously if necessary. The worker should feel confident that their concerns will be heard and HR will take immediate action.
It’s important that you be able to identify specific employees who may be experiencing burnout, but it’s also crucial you adjust your company culture so that all employees feel happy and satisfied while at work. One way you can do this is by modifying the benefits you provide and offering a healthier work-life balance. At a minimum, consider allowing more sick, personal, or mental health days during the year. Studies show that 24% of employees believe this would help their work performance, and it gives them a nice breather so they can return to work refreshed and ready to go.
On top of time off, allowing flexible work hours for employees who are overwhelmed with work and home issues is key. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees still have children who are staying home to attend school remotely. For them, it can be very difficult to get their kids ready for school and accomplish their work tasks at the same time. If your workflow allows it, consider creating a flex schedule where the employee could start later in the day or work a split shift where they can work in the morning, leave for a set number of hours, and then return to finish the job. And if you aren’t already offering a remote work option, you really should be!
Burnout doesn’t happen only because employees are physically exhausted. It can also be due to a lack of motivation to complete their work duties because they don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. To keep employees engaged, your company policy should also dictate a clear path to promotion for workers who wish to take their skills to the next level.
An understanding of promotional policies should be introduced during the employee’s initial orientation, where they can clearly see the positions they can aspire to as they learn new skills. If this is done, the only way that an employee will feel burnout is if the path of promotion is not delivered as promised. Human resources must never let that happen.
The human resources team needs to have policies and action plans in place for employees who are dealing with mental health issues that can result in or include burnout. For a worker to perform to your expectations, they must feel like they’re appreciated as people and that their efforts are really helping the good of the company. To accomplish this, managers should reward good performers with an encouraging email or a special award like a gift card or extra day off. When employees feel valued, the sky's the limit to what they can do. You might see that this motivation actually increases productivity.
Employees may also experience burnout if they feel like they’re just cogs in the machine and that their contributions are not meaningful. To assist in this regard, HR should host team activities that get everyone at the company involved to remind them that we are all in this together. Such activities could include a day at a museum or park or it could be a more meaningful activity, like a walk for charity. Even allowing teams to take breaks together could be what you need to encourage that togetherness that employees crave.
Human resources can also offer guidance and help to those who are dealing with more severe mental health issues or heavy stress. That could be offering free trips to wellness retreats in the area. Your benefits package should also include a mental health component, where employees have access to therapists and counselors at a discounted rate.
As you can see, there are many ways that your organization can identify and defeat employee burnout as it develops. By employing the strategies above, you will have a happier workforce whose effectiveness will bring your company to the next level.
Author Bio: This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, and intranet software. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, employee productivity, and to save you valuable time!