How to prevent employee burnout

If you notice one of your employees having a hard time focusing and finishing tasks, or being strangely inconsistent with their quality of work, there’s a chance they might be struggling with burnout.

Employee burnout definition

What is employee burnout? Burnout is more than just feeling a little stressed out. It’s actually an official diagnosis by the World Health Organization (WHO). It’s defined as “a prolonged state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion typically caused by mismanaged stress, namely in the workplace.”

With all that’s going on in the world, especially in the last few years, it can feel overwhelming to try and balance everything on one plate. In fact, a recent report from Indeed found that employee burnout is on the rise, with 52% of all workers feeling the burn.

If your employees work from home, they could be at even more of a risk. Finding the line between work life and personal life becomes increasingly difficult if someone’s working virtually, especially if they’re also taking care of their family and household tasks.

A survey from reports that nearly 70% of remote workers are experiencing burnout even without heading to the office each day.

As a manager, if you notice an employee who might be struggling with burnout, it’s important to reach out and recognize that they’re going through a hard time.

Being there for your employees and proactively checking in through the good times and the bad will show that your company cares for the well-being of your staff—not just what they contribute to the bottom line. [Related: Boosting Team Morale in the New Year]

Read on to explore some surprising employee burnout statistics, common causes of burnout, symptoms to be aware of, and 15 helpful tips to prevent employee burnout.

Surprising employee burnout statistics

Even though burnout is on the rise, most employees don’t feel like they can be open about their struggles. According to FlexJobs, only 21% of workers say they’re able to have open, productive conversations about solutions to their burnout. No wonder—35% of employees say their job doesn’t do anything to help with employee burnout in the first place.

Preventing and addressing burnout isn’t only beneficial to the employee in question, but is good for your organization as a whole. WHO estimates that a whopping $1 trillion is lost in productivity each year as a result of employees suffering from mental health difficulties.

Why? An eye-opening study from Gallup reports that employees suffering from burnout are over 60% more likely to take a sick day, 13% less confident in their work, and 260% times as likely to leave their current employer.

These employee burnout statistics are eye-opening. So how do you address this universal issue and support your employees? First thing’s first, let’s take a look at some of the common causes of burnout [Related: How to welcome new employees: your complete guide]

Causes of employee burnout

In our fast-paced world, some causes of employee burnout can be overlooked as normal day-to-day work issues that everyone goes through. But in order to get to the root of burnout, you have to address these causes head on.

Job imbalance

One primary cause of burnout is imbalance in the workplace.

For example, an employee may be struggling to understand the expectations that come with their role, especially when working remotely. This ambiguity could cause them to either overwork themselves or take on tasks that aren’t their responsibility.

Many remote workers have difficulty setting up boundaries between work time and personal time. They end up working late into the night and through their lunches. Without an office, it becomes harder to find that work-life balance.

On the other hand, those that work in-office can look at lengthy commutes and time in traffic as big contributors to feeling burnt out, often times before the work day even begins. Research shows that the risk of burnout increases significantly when a commute lasts longer than 20 minutes. If it passes 35 minutes? Workers expressed more negative attitudes toward their job.

Additionally, an unbalanced workload on either side of the spectrum—too much work or not enough interesting tasks—can definitely cause burnout. Whether someone’s feeling overloaded and overworked, or dragging through their days made up of tedious, monotonous tasks, both situations can quickly lead to burnout. [Related: Guide to engaging employees at every phase of their work journey]

Lack of recognition or support

Lack of recognition and support can also be the cause for employee burnout. When an employee feels like they have no room for growth, or they’re not being asked for their opinions, their self-value might decrease. Similarly, if an individual is working hard and receives little to no feedback or appreciation, it can also lead to feelings of burnout.

Another cause of burnout is lack of resources. If an employee doesn’t have what they need to do their job well, they can start feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by the lack of support. Resources in this case can be something as basic as appropriate office supplies, but it can also refer to things like necessary job training.

[Related: 5 Reasons Your Team Isn’t Loving Virtual Happy Hour

Personal issues

Sometimes the cause of burnout can be something that’s happening in the employee’s personal life. Leaving your personal life at the door when you come to work isn’t as easy as it sounds, and vice versa.

This can be especially difficult if the employee is a remote worker operating out of their home. The line between work and personal life can blur, and this is where burnout can come into play.

Employee burnout signs to watch out for

We mentioned earlier that a large percentage of employees suffering from burnout aren’t approaching their management and letting them know. This makes it absolutely crucial for those higher up to know what employee burnout signs to watch out for.

Here are some of the most common employee burnout symptoms:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Emergence of physical symptoms such as unexplained headaches, frequent stomach issues, or other physical complaints
  • Disengagement
  • Higher sensitivity to feedback
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Losing track of tasks
  • Complaining excessively
  • Mentioning feeling emotionally, mentally, or physically exhausted
  • Irritability with coworkers, customers, or clients
  • Overly cynical or critical behavior at work

How to measure employee burnout

There must be a way to measure employee burnout without worrying about it every second of the day! Even if you think your team is doing just fine, you should still have a method for regularly measuring employee burnout levels. Here’s how to measure employee burnout.

[Related: Mystery FAQs]

Employee burnout surveys

Consider regularly offering employee burnout surveys that your team can fill out anonymously.

These surveys can ask questions concerning the amount of work they do, their sleep habits, the level of satisfaction they feel in their position, and whether they feel appreciated. You can also include a section at the end for additional feedback and comments.

Since the survey is anonymous, employees may be more likely to share their honest opinion on experiencing burnout in the workplace.

Consistent check-ins

When monitoring burnout, consistent check-ins with your employees are key.

Regular check-ins can be a tool that helps identify potential issues and signs of burnout early on. These meetings, whether via email, Slack, or Zoom, will also give employees a chance to give and receive feedback in a casual, consistent setting and keep everyone on track with their goals.

Monitor Slack channels

Whether you use Slack or another team communication platform, these channels can provide some insight into how people are feeling. If you notice that there’s an excess of complaints about a certain client, memes about being stressed out, or if someone is unusually quiet when they’re typically one for chiming in, these could all be a sign of workplace burnout.

[Related: About Mystery]

15 tips for how to prevent employee burnout

The following tips on how to prevent employee burnout can help you keep your workplace in check and make sure you’re providing adequate support to your team.

1. Improve communication

If communication is open and encouraged, employees will feel more comfortable talking about what they’re struggling with and ask for help.

2. Discuss flexible scheduling

Whether it’s giving employees a work-from-home day of their choice or allowing them to start work at 10 AM instead of 8 AM, flexible scheduling can help everyone feel more productive. Make sure everyone shares their work schedules and adds them to the staff calendar. When it comes to meetings, strive to schedule them during times that are convenient for everyone, especially if you have a globally distributed team. [Related: What is a “hybrid” workplace and what does it mean for corporate culture?]

3. Create work boundaries

Things like setting time limits for internal meetings and not asking for work-related deliverables outside of office hours are some examples of healthy work boundaries.

4. Offer wellness and mental health benefits

Does your company offer wellness and mental health benefits? Keep your employees up to date on the services they might want to take advantage of, such as reduced gym memberships or counseling.

[Related: 5 ways to get your remote employees moving]

5. Hold meetings outside and suggest breaks

Sometimes a little fresh air can go a long way. Studies have shown that being outdoors can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Hold meetings outside or encourage your remote workers to sit outside during Zoom calls. You can even send a Slack reminder to your team to take a quick 5-10 minute walk outside for some fresh air every now and then.

6. Encourage employees to use their time off

Employees shouldn’t be under the impression that they’ll look bad if they use their vacation or sick time. Management should encourage employees to take time off—they’ve earned it.

7. Provide work-from-home options

Did you know that remote workers might be happier than those who work in the office full-time? One study reports that those who work from home are 22% happier than those operating in an office environment.

If you’re not already working remotely, offer some work-from-home options to your staff and you might watch symptoms of burnout decrease.

8. Keep your kitchen stocked

It may seem like a small thing, but having a well-stocked fridge in your office can make all the difference. 

Ask about dietary restrictions and some of your employees’ favorite snacks. This can provide a great pick-me-up in the middle of a long workday.

9. Give opportunity for growth

When an employee doesn’t have room to grow, they can feel stunted in their position and lose motivation. Always encourage employees to express their future goals and offer training in other areas of your company if they are interested. [Related: How and Why You Should Create a Corporate Culture Which Supports Women]

10. Welcome employee feedback

Encourage employee feedback. Whether positive or negative, an environment that welcomes feedback can only help your company improve its culture.

11. Train managers

Making sure managers and those in higher-up positions are trained in best practices will keep employees happy and maintain retention rates.

12. Schedule regular check-ins

Like we mentioned earlier, consistent check-ins are a great way to catch early signs of employee burnout.

13. Show appreciation for small and large accomplishments

Celebrating progress and the success of employees regardless of how big or small is crucial to creating a motivating work environment.

14. Throw an office party and hold regular social events

Show everyone that the company appreciates their hard work by hosting office parties and regular social events. [Related: Our Tried and True Virtual Event Favorites]

15. Follow employees’ passions and interests

Get to know your employees and what they’re into. See how specific passions of theirs can translate into what they do for the company. People are happiest when they do what they love.

Connect with Mystery today!

If you notice that you, your teammates, or your employees are struggling with burnout, don’t panic. Along with the aforementioned tips, Mystery’s engaging virtual events can add some much-needed fun and positivity to your work environment. Try out a demo or book a one-of-a-kind event with us today!

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