NESTMA – Combatting Employee Burnout
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New England Blade – Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM
As inflation continues to rise, managers are starting to face an additional workforce challenge to the tight labor market. Employees are routinely being asked to do more with less, leading to increased burnout. In response, many young workers have started a movement of “quiet quitting” – that is, doing the bare minimum of their job description and refusing to go above and beyond. But managers can prevent burnout in the first place by understanding its causes and solutions.
But first, managers must understand what is meant by employee burnout. It isn’t an excuse to not work or a problem that affects only a few workers. In fact, 76% of employees experience burnout on the job at least sometimes according to Gallup. Employee burnout is so common that the World Health Organization has defined it as an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress leading to energy depletion, negative feelings about one’s work, and reduced efficiency. Employee burnout is a global issue that affects all workplaces.
Burnout is also an issue with real, and serious, outcomes. Employees who experience burnout are 2.6 times as likely to actively be seeking another job and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room. The impacts of burnout on employee’s health and wellbeing simply can’t be ignored.
Employees tend to feel burnt out when they receive unfair treatment at work and unmanageable workloads. For many managers, the inability to hire workers due to the lack of workers and increasing wages has led to asking existing workers to do more. When an employee views new hires starting at higher wages or receiving sign-on bonuses but is not recognized financially for their commitment, it is easy to see why they may feel treatment isn’t fair. The same issue arises when workloads increase as positions go unfilled. Employees who strongly agree they are treated unfairly are 2.3 times more likely to experience a high level of burnout.
Burnout also is caused by a lack of managerial support and unreasonable time pressure. It is the role of a manager to ensure that employees have the tools, resources, and time they need to complete their work, but not enough managers work collaboratively on expectations and goal setting to even know how their people feel about their workload. As business demands increase, employees who have managers that do not provide adequate time for increased work tend to suffer from burnout.
What can managers do to reduce employee burnout when every business feels pressure to perform at a higher level? For one, simply making time to listen to employees’ work-related problems honestly. Too many managers are dismissive of their employees’ concerns about the ability to perform work, often because managers are under their own unreasonable demands and don’t prioritize regular team check-ins. Employees suffer burnout when they feel workplace stress and they don’t believe it will get better. A sympathetic manager who listens will help employees understand that there is hope for the current situation and curb burnout dramatically.
Managers will also benefit from encouraging teamwork because employees can leverage the strengths of each other to thrive. The bonds that are formed on a cohesive team help each team member feel supported and encouraged in a way that effectively fights employee burnout.
Finally, managers must focus on the purpose of the organization. Work itself is never worth an extraordinary effort from employees, but a mission to help and enhance the lives of customers in some meaningful way gives a reason to go above and beyond. Employees who know how their unique contribution improve someone’s business, or life, do not “quiet quit” – they continue to strive to help more people.
The ability for a team to effectively perform, retain talent, and protect the physical and emotional wellbeing of each member is dependent on managerial actions. And in today’s difficult business environment, managers need to rise to the challenge.
Neal Glatt is the Managing Partner of GrowTheBench, an online training platform for the green industry.
You can learn more about him and his solutions at www.NealGlatt.com.