Controlling Employee Burnout

November 29, 2021

Controlling Employee Burnout

An interesting problem has arisen in the wake of the work-from-home orders brought on by the pandemic, though this issue had been showing itself in staff around the world for years: Employee Burnout.

That feeling of being overwhelmed and/or drained with the constant stress of work and life. These stresses come in many ways:

  • Overworked remote employees that constantly strive to be busy.
  • Emotionally drained staff that once received support from managers and colleagues.
  • Rudderless workers that lack manager input and worry about what to do next.
  • Exhausted staff that want to grow but don’t know where to go.
  • Disconnected employees with no social interactions, which they previously got at work.
  • Spatially exhausted staff that work, live, and play in a single room.

All these stresses that have never before been experienced at this level globally have compounded. This employee burnout is such that it has become one of the main reasons of the mass exodus that some have dubbed “The Great Resignation.”

To combat the ‘dead batteries’, some firms have started offering more vacation time, added sick days, “no meeting” blocks, and more daily breaks. While these can help, the following 6 steps can help you mitigate burnout and keep your staff.

Help Cope

Don’t forget that this pandemic is affecting everyone and while work needs to get done, checking in with your employees can work wonders for morale. For example:

  • If school closures are on the horizon offer staff with children some scheduling flexibility.
  • When checking in with staff ask about family members and their health.
  • Acknowledge that all this change is creating conflict and chaos but that you are there to support them.

Speak Clearly

Decrease the anxiety and stress that comes from receiving a vague email or message. Instead, add a general tone to the message by quickly mentioning what you want to discuss. For example:

  • Mention in an email that you want to talk about their workload and move some projects in priority.
  • When booking a meeting, add a topic so the employee has an idea of what will be discussed.
  • When setting up a project, ensure the goals and milestones are clearly understood or displayed where staff can quickly access it to ensure they are on the right course.

Provide Guidance

The worst thing about remote work is often the lack of direct face-time and quick feedback. To counteract the stress that may come up with staff feeling rudderless, setup quarterly and monthly goals. Then, provide regular feedback via weekly one-on-ones. This will help your staff feel confident that they are moving in the right direction and that this, in turn, is contributing to team success. Also, do not micromanage your staff. The goal with guidance is to show them the way but not drag them along every step.

Encourage Growth

Learning new things provides an emotional boost that decreases stress. This is something that is known, which is why many companies try to encourage their employees to learn and work in other parts of the shop. This gives you an opportunity for cross-training and retention by checking in with your staff and helping them with learning the skills required to perform another task.

Facilitate Communication

Along with getting your staff to teach one another, is to ensure that staff can experience some of the social life they had in the office before the pandemic. This works to improve productivity, improve sharing across business units, and helps your staff feel like they are still part of the larger team. Help make this team interaction better by:

  • Setup cross-team one-on-ones
  • Acknowledge good ideas and perspectives
  • Organize virtual team trivia, or other ‘off-the-clock’ type activities.

Relaxed Returns

When you can go to hybrid work, or fully back into the office, try and help decrease the stress from returning to work by:

  • Make the office environment more casual.
  • Organize a team luncheon, or an outdoor event.
  • Establish core hours instead of a rigid 9 – 5 type hour system, so that employees have more flexibility on their commute.

Conclusion

You are likely already doing most of these. To be sure that employee burnout and resignations aren’t becoming your own internal pandemic, check in with your staff. Proactively engaging with your employees, can help ease a lot of their personal stresses. This will also decrease your stress at the possibility that “The Great Resignation” will affect you in the same way it has countless others.

Pose the following questions to your staff in your next set of one-on-ones to understand how they are feeling. Based on their replies, you can develop a plan to better support each person on your team:

  • What one thing can I do to better support you?
  • Is anything unclear or blocking your work?
  • How does your workload feel right now?
  • What parts of your work do you enjoy most?
  • Did you get everything you needed today?

Added vacation time can improve mental health, which leads to higher retention rates, but without decreasing stress, time off is the winning battle that loses the war.

At the end of the day, you and your managers must be more in tune with the problems you’re your staff are facing. This is one of the key factors to ensure that your staff stay… and stay happy.

While leaders are the main haulers of this added burden, a good ERP can help. OnRamp ERP helps balance the load with:

  • A single source of data, accessible anywhere and at any time, thus providing you and your office staff with the information they need, when they need it
  • Training and skill management as part of the HR module to help you manage shop and office staff cross-training
  • Time and attendance tracking, including time keeping flexibility with a remote time clock app so you can still see what hours your employees worked
  • Project management module to help ensure staff tasks stay on schedule and no one is over-burdened
  • DCP module to help you plan around the added sick leave that comes with quarantined floor staff

References

Liz Fosslien, August 26, 2021, What You’re Getting Wrong About Burnout (mit.edu)

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