Employee Burnout: Are You to Blame?

Employee burnout. It’s becoming a very real problem in the U.S. today. It can result in higher stress levels and thus, even health problems associated with stress. Furthermore, employee burnout can be detrimental to relationships, both at work and at home—in the employee’s personal life. It’s definitely not conducive to a proper work-life balance that many crave, whether they live a life of such balance or not.

Are you contributing to this problem as an employer, whether you mean to or not?

The majority of U.S. workers are putting in more than the average amount of work hours (40) per week. At least 40% of employees say they work more than 50 hours a week and 20% work more than 60 hours a week.

Between working all those overtime hours – plus job-related demands, absentee bosses, and dreadful deadlines – it is no wonder that a lot of workers are burnt out on their careers.

The Mayo Clinic describes “burnout” as “…a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” As a boss or business owner, that isn’t where you want your employees standing because once they’ve reached the state of being burnt out, they are less likely to perform to their full potential.

Even though employees are burning out, many companies are not taking preventative steps to prevent this. According to a recent study, 78% of workers say that putting in more hours is essential to get promoted and doing well in their careers. Only 33% of employees are encouraged to take the paid time off they’re entitled to, while only 11% are encouraged to use their sick days for mental health.

This leads to a problem.

Unfortunately, this is all a vicious cycle. Employees get burnt out because they are working so much to try and get ahead. Yet, when workers don’t get a break, they are more likely to become less motivated and less productive in their workforce over time.

As a wise business owner or boss, it is your duty to take steps to help your workers avoid burning out.

How to help prevent burnout in your employees

While some employees are more prone to stress than others, there are steps you can take from a management angle to keep your employees content and engaged in the workforce.

  1. Encourage employees to take time off

More than half of all U.S. employees leave vacation days on the table every year because they are afraid that if they max out their days, it will look bad or they will fall behind. From a management position, it is important to let it be known that it is perfectly okay (and even desirable) for employees to take time away from the office, whether it’s vacation or mental health days. Your workers will be more likely to get the break they need, avoiding burning out.

  1. Offer employees flexible work arrangements

For example, allow employees with long commutes to work from home a few times a week or give workers a courtesy day off subsequent to a period of extra-heavy assignments. You might even establish a comp time structure where workers who put in a certain number of hours over the norm, get a day back later in the month.

  1. Insist on regular manager check-ins

Regular manager check-ins allow you to interact one-on-one with your employees and gauge their stress level and workload. These check-ins could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. The goal is to allow employees to feel like they have open communication with their managers and an opportunity to air their grievances and concerns.

All of these moves serve the critical goal of giving workers a chance to clear their heads and come back refreshed and ready to work. Happy employees are productive employees. Developing a strong strategy to reduce your role in employee burnout is crucial for not only showing your employees you care about them as more than just a “worker” but also as a human being. Most of the time, they will return this gesture in the form of loyalty and a higher level of production that will benefit your business much more than overworking ever would.