Addressing Workplace Burnout

08th October 2019

Finding a healthy work/life balance continues to be a struggle for a lot of employees in the UK. Pressure at work, heavy workloads and long hours can leave even the best of us feeling exhausted – but what happens when it all gets too much? People who struggle to cope with the demands of their job put themselves at high risk of burnout. We have highlighted some of the ways to identify workplace burnout in your employees and how to overcome it…

What is workplace burnout?

Workplace burnout is the feeling of physical and emotional exhaustion due to the inability to cope with the demands at work. Burnout can leave people feeling empty, stressed and completely drained – which can lead to both physical and emotional health problems. If left unaddressed, it can affect life outside of work including relationships and self-care. In extreme cases, it can even lead to unhealthy behaviours such as addictive behaviours or extreme drinking.

Burnout is not only bad for the employee, but it can also have a negative impact on the business. Low productivity and engagement means less output, increased health problems, more sick days and higher insurance premiums – which can be costly.

What are the main causes?

Workplace burn out is more likely to occur when employees:

  • Feel like the work they do is not good enough
  • Expect too much of themselves
  • Lack of control
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
  • Lack of social support or isolation
  • Feel underappreciated for their work
  • Feel incompetent or inadequate in their job role
  • Find it difficult to deal with unreasonable demands placed on them

How to spot workplace burnout?

As a manager, the single most important sign that an individual is suffering from workplace burnout is an unusual change in behaviour. It’s crucial to take the time to get to know your employees so you are able to notice any negative signs that may occur. The common symptoms include:

  • Increased lateness or absenteeism
  • Changes in personality, such as frequent frustration or short-tempered behaviour
  • Disengagement in previously happy staff members
  • Decreased productivity or quality of work
  • Little interest in work or low emotions
  • Negative and sarcastic behaviour towards others or work
  • Complaints of headaches

Workplace burnout is unlikely to go away on its own, it will only cause greater issues further down the line.

How to deal with employees experiencing workplace burnout

If a member of staff is already experiencing the symptoms of workplace burnout, it’s important to address the situation as soon as possible and provide support for the individual.

The first step for dealing with workplace burnout is identifying why they are experiencing it. Sometimes the reasons will be obvious, and sometimes it can take some time to determine the specific causes behind it. Once the cause has been determined, you should actively try and reduce this problem where possible.

Find a quiet time to speak privately with your employee. Ask them ‘Are you okay? I’ve noticed that you’ve not been acting yourself lately and I was wondering if there’s anything we can do to help?’ or ‘You seemed quite frustrated in our last few meetings, is there anything I can do?’

How to prevent workplace burnout

Here are our top tips for preventing workplace burnout in your employees:

  • Monitor the workload of your employees. Is it manageable for the individual?
  • Give consistent positive feedback, recognition and appreciation.
  • Encourage employees to take their holiday allowances, and to ‘un-plug’ when they’re on holiday.
  • Consider allowing variety in the job roles, considering temporary or permanent job changes within the company.
  • Allow working-from-home opportunities, especially for long-commuters.
  • Reduce the procedures of approval where possible – it can cause frustration
  • Provide training for all staff and supervisors.
  • Make changes to the work environment – including seating arrangements, noise levels, lighting and temperature to reduce physical stress
  • Review the pay structure.
  • Show extra recognition for work efforts through little treats, like bringing in breakfast for your employees.
  • Consider hiring temps or part-time staff to deal will busy times rather than piling on the work to already stressed workers.
  • Arrange some team-bonding during work hours or after work – like bowling or an escape room.

How we can help

Making sure you identify and deal with workplace burnout in the right way is crucial for the wellbeing of your staff and the success of your business. Our Workplace Health and Wellbeing Program can help you to combat the effects of workplace burnout. Find out more about this service by getting in touch with our specialist occupational health team at David Barber today.

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