If you’re running a business, you should already know the value of wellbeing at work. A lack of consideration when it comes to employee wellbeing can lead to a negative culture, unproductive workers and burnout, which can cost your business when it comes to sick days and staff retention.

While stress is a common part of work, stress in the extreme and employee burnout is usually an indicator of a wider issue within the workplace environment. Understanding both the causes and effects of burnout is vital for managers looking to reduce the impact on their business.

The Rising Issue of Burnout in the Workplace

As of 2019, burnout became an illness officially recognized by the World Health Organization, with symptoms including:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

The issue of burnout is real, and one that is affecting the workforce at an increasing rate. A study into burnout in the workplace by TollFreeForwarding.com looked at 2,000 US employees and found that over a third (36%) of workers said they’d experienced the symptoms of burnout every week. Over half (56%) experience burnout monthly, while only 12% said they’ve never experienced burnout in their current job.

Clearly, burnout is something that should be taken seriously. The stress, exhaustion, and negativity that comes with burnout not only affects employees’ wellbeing and personal lives but can have a crippling effect on their workplace.

Unmotivated, unproductive employees will naturally find the quality of their work is reduced, while lethargic feelings also contribute to business sick days – nearly a quarter of workers (23%) said they use sick days at least every two months due to burnout.

To retain their best staff and encourage productivity, businesses need to be taking active steps to both support employees who are experiencing burnout and limit the causes of burnout. Read on for three ways you can prevent burnout in the workplace.

2. Create a Positive Workplace Environment

The biggest contributor to workplace burnout is a high-pressure working environment, according to almost half (44%) of those surveyed. So, steps must be taken to ensure a positive working environment that allows employees to thrive.  

Unrealistic performance targets alongside unrealistic deadlines will inevitably cause stress and high pressure. Many businesses think setting high goals and targets will push their workers to perform at their best, when actually, this is likely having an adverse effect. If a goal, deadline or target cannot realistically be met, workers will be left feeling stressed, rushed, pressured, and like they’re failing at work – which can lead quickly to burnout.

Rather than setting employees up to fail, work together towards fair, realistic and achievable goals. Employees who are regularly stressed will be less productive, so you’ll quickly notice an improvement in output and wellbeing within the workplace when the pressure is lifted.

2. Communication is Key

When it comes to burnout in the workplace, a lack of support and communication from management also plays a big role; 38% of workers said a lack of support was contributing to their burnout.

As well as issues with general communication, if employees feel they lack clarity in their roles this can lead to confusion, frustration, and disengagement, as workers are unaware of their objectives and how they contribute to success. Regular managerial support and 1:1s are a must to ensure employees are engaged, while positive feedback, clear objectives, and constructive criticism are all vital for clarity within a role.

Keeping an open dialogue with employees is also extremely beneficial if issues do occur. Regular communication will ensure your staff are comfortable talking to you, and you can work together to combat any issues before they become a more serious problem.

3. Offer Flexibility and Promote Work/Life Balance

Supporting a healthy work/life balance is imperative for keeping a motivated, productive workforce. All too often at work, and sometimes even subconsciously, staying late and putting in extra time is rewarded. Naturally, going ‘above and beyond’ is seen as a good thing, however, employees need time to switch off from work to ensure productivity.

If your business structure allows it, perks and benefits including flexible working patterns, remote working, and generous vacation allowance can all work together to combat employee burnout. Encourage your employees to use all their vacation days, don’t expect people to be in work mode 24/7 and create a clear work/life balance – you’ll see the health and productivity of the workforce soar. 

Wellbeing in the workplace, and the prevention of employee burnout, should always be considered. A shift in culture and the promotion of a clear work/life balance will lead to a happier, healthier and more productive workforce – which can only mean positive things for your business as a whole.