Ignore employee burnout at your peril

Here are tips to prevent, diagnose, and cure it.

(Mark Lennihan, AP) Commuters walk down a corridor at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York in this June 21, 2019 file photo. Employee burnout is a growing problem in the country’s workforce.

Workplace burnout is a real problem that has been exacerbated during the long duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In survey responses Energage collected from thousands of employees over the past few months, 39% said they often felt overwhelmed at work. Even more worrisome, less than two-thirds (64%) said they feel their organization cares about burnout.

We are not talking about run-of-the-mill jobs here. Many of these employees work for Top Workplaces.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” said Greg Barnett, chief people scientist at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey company.

While burnout is hardly a new phenomenon, the pandemic has increased stress for workers. It has brought new challenges and high expectations. For many, remote work blurred the lines between work and personal time. Think of people who work remotely and at the same time face child or elder care issues.

And of course think of the healthcare workers who have been under incredible pressure given the challenging circumstances of their work, the training, the hours and the risk.

Work is seldom easy. But there’s a difference between high expectations and unreasonable expectations — never-ending workloads. Let’s break down the different types of stress that come with work:

• Positive stress: Think of this as “excitement stress” related to things like a big project. put skills to the test. Work in a team. Achieving a goal for the organization. It can be stressful but exciting in a positive way.

• Short-term exposure: Acute or short-term stress occurs again and again. It’s triggered when someone says, “Hey, I need this tomorrow.” Or maybe it comes from dealing with a challenging customer. Circumstances can create short-term emotional stress.

• Chronic stress: This is more related to burnout. It occurs when people work without adequate resources or under unrealistic expectations.

Chronic stress affects mental and physical well-being. Burnout leads to more absenteeism, lack of commitment, longer response times for customers and production delays.

In the early months of the pandemic, workers rolled up their sleeves to do whatever it takes to get through. In some cases, however, the challenges have not abated, and neither have the expectations.

“You can’t set expectations that far above where they were before and then never go back to where they were,” said Kinsey Smith, senior data analyst at Energage. “You can’t expect employees to be able to deliver at the same level forever, without a break, without delay.”

This is what forward-thinking employers do to prevent burnout:

• Ask the question: Simply asking employees how they are doing is the first step in acknowledging the problem.

• Distribute workloads: Make sure work is shared and expectations are reasonable.

• Offer flexible schedules: If possible, with flexible schedules, flexible working hours. Remote work can help.

• Celebrate the victories: Instead of jumping from project to project or crisis to crisis, celebrate successes and goals achieved.

• Get creative: Introduce things like non-meeting days to give workers a chance to think, create and stay connected.

• Give support: More and more companies are offering resources for mental health or coaching.

• Respect boundaries: Give people time to balance their work and life.

Companies have an interest in helping employees refuel and lay a foundation for long-term success, Smith said. “It will improve their bottom line because if employees burn out, people will quit, and the more people quit, the harder it is to replace them.”

Bob Helbig is director of media partnerships at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey company. Energage is a survey partner for Top Workplaces.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/11/01/memo-bosses-ignore-employee/ Ignore employee burnout at your peril

Justin Scacco

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