Employee Burnout — 5 Simple Steps to Avoid It

OpinionPosted | Category: BRM Capability, BRM Community, Professional Development | Contributed

Employee Burnout

According to the International Labour Organization, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”

Historically, this large disparity in hours is justified in support of the capitalistic ideal that hard work leads to success. But does working more truly increase productivity?

The short answer is no. More time does not equal better work. A study conducted by Boston University’s School of Business proved that managers could not tell the difference between employees who worked 80 hours a week and those pretending to carry the same workload. No evidence surfaced to suggest these employees with the falsified work load accomplished any less than their counterparts.

In fact, overworking directly contributes to burnout, which inhibits productivity, and leads to impaired sleep, depression, heavy drinking, impaired memory, and heart disease. Harvard Business Review highlights that these personal health problems contribute to HR’s biggest concerns, including absenteeism and turnover.

If research proves that employee burnout harms organizations and decreases efficiency, why do we continue to overwork ourselves?

The Conundrum of Burnout

Every organization employs its own software systems for effective resource and time management. These capabilities empower you to run at optimal efficiency while maintaining an appropriate level of resources. Yet, what solution exists for optimizing employee productivity and minimizing burnout?

While project management software such as Asana and LiquidPlanner help combat this issue, they do not solve the problem. They only treat a symptom of the root cause; a misaligned perception with businesses viewing their employees as capital.

In other words, the business culture of today treats employees as resources, working them to their max without considering the person’s overall well-being. If organizations aspire to retain their talent, they need to start considering the human aspect of their “most valuable resource.”

Treat Employees as Humans

Encouraged by the massive production boom of the Industrial Revolution, businesses adopted a mentality of treating employees like resources in the early 1900’s. Furthermore, that perception has only persisted and grown stronger, resulting in the burnout epidemic manifesting itself today.

However, if you structure your culture around employee satisfaction, you will notice measurable improvements felt throughout the entire value chain. Studies show that culture-driven organizations experience 22 percent higher productivity, and 30 percent stronger customer satisfaction than other businesses. It’s no secret that keeping employees happy, and relatively unstressed, will boost productivity. But these changes cannot take place without a concerted effort from employees and employers alike, starting with small steps.

Implementing these 5 simple techniques will give employees and teammates a higher sense of purpose, making them happier and more productive without overworking them:

  • Provide constant feedback, allowing the employee to observe their own personal growth
  • Ask for feedback in return, encouraging honest discussion
  • Give them more vacation days to support mental health
  • Always keep your door open for questions or discussion to encourage team cohesion
  • Request their assistance in important decisions to validate their need for contribution and purpose

To learn more on properly executing employee-focused cultural change, check out our article on The ABCs of Cultural Change.

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