After a year of isolation, working from home, and stressful headlines employees are experiencing burnout at unprecedented levels. Identifying burnout and stopping it from spreading can help improve productivity at your company. Additionally, it can help put your employee’s health first.
What is burnout?
Coined in the 1970s, the term “burnout” refers to the mental and physical exhaustion that employees experience. While there are many factors, prolonged stress and excessive stress are noted as the two biggest causes of burnout. Workplace managers and HR Directors may be quick to pass off this feeling, but it is identified and defined by the World Health Organization as an occupational phenomenon in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
Who is experiencing burnout?
During the pandemic, surveys indicate that levels of burnout are at an all-time high. While this feeling of exhaustion impacts people of all ages, races, and genders, women are 28% more likely to experience burnout. This is especially being felt among working mothers. According to a study by Maven Clinic, 2.4 million working mothers are experiencing burnout during the pandemic.
This has massive implications across all genders and impacts companies of all sizes. As employees begin to feel that exhaustion after a year full of uncertainty and division, millions more will burn out and may leave jobs they’ve held for years.
What causes burnout?
Understanding what’s at the root of burnout can help managers and business owners introspectively look at their processes and team. Fixing problem areas or potential areas of concern can help curb burnout and stop it from spreading. Specifically, within the workplace, employees identified 4 key contributing factors for their burnout:
- Lack of control
- Unclear job expectations and impact
- Lack of support
- Imbalance of work and personal lives
Lack of control: this includes setting their schedule, coming into the office when they may not yet feel comfortable, no say on assignments, a lack of resources, and/or lack of awareness of their current workload.
Unclear job expectations and impact: understanding their role within the company, level of authority, or how their work ultimately helps the company’s goals.
Lack of support: similar to a lack of resources, if employees do not feel supported in their roles they may struggle with isolation which increases stress.
Imbalance of work and personal lives: even as millions continue work from home schedules, having a clear delineation between the two lives can be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of your employees.
Establishing a solid foundation, clear guidelines, and a company road map can help curb some of these stressors. Even if your company is remaining remote for a while, have an all-team meeting to discuss how the company is doing and where it’s headed can reassure your employees. Additionally, regularly updating employees on their impact can put emotions at ease and reassure the role they fill at your company.
Identifying burnout in your employees
Effectively identifying burnout in your employees can stop it before it spreads. As products of our environment, negative emotions including burnout can spread quickly. According to a 2019 study, people feeling burnt out can directly influence other’s emotions and speed up the burnout process. Indicators of burnout may include behaviors such as:
- Frequent illness
Not only do these symptoms contribute to burnout, but even individually can decrease productivity. As managers work with employees over time it may be difficult to identify these changes in behaviors which is why it’s important to check in with employees over time. Valuing mental health can lead to increased productivity and a happier work environment. Even virtually.
Cultivating a compassionate environment doesn’t have to mean completely revamping a company. There are a few steps people managers and directors can take to help curb burnout before it takes over their workforce. Three key ways to reduce a company’s risk of burnt-out employees include:
- Flexible schedules
- Balanced workloads
- Wellness testing
Giving your employees the option for flexible scheduling allows for a sense of control over their time. Additionally, it sets clear boundaries when they’re expected to be working, and can improve the work/life balance. Find what works for each employee and work within those parameters to provide them the resources and guidelines to succeed whether in the workplace or working from home.
As some businesses were forced to lay off employees amidst the pandemic, it may have been natural to increase the workload of the remaining employees. This behavior can lead to lower productivity, more stress, and limit an employee’s output. Auditing the current workload and finding ways to spread projects and tasks can reduce the stress put on employees.
Wellness testing offers a tremendous amount of insight into an employee’s scientific response to burnout or stress overall. Identifying high levels of cortisol in the body and other stress levels can help limit an employee’s risk for illness, and heart disease. With convenient testing options available, find your local ARCpoint Labs and talk to one of our experts to find a solution for testing your employees. Giving employees access to wellness tests shows them you truly value their health and wellbeing.
As businesses continue to adjust to life amidst a pandemic, identifying burnout among employees can help improve productivity and limit associated risks. From ongoing COVID-19 testing to drug and alcohol policy development, ARCpoint Labs is here for your company.