Sometimes - no matter how many hours of sleep we squeeze in or cups of coffee we guzzle - going to work seems like an impossible, insurmountable task. We push through the morning fatigue to slug our way through daily tasks and meetings, absolutely exhausted by 5pm, only to realize our day wasn't that productive. We’ll shrug this off as “one of those days”, and look forward to starting fresh the next morning.
But what if that feeling isn’t a one-off - what if you, or members of your team, are constantly feeling like a candle burning at both ends? Employee burnout is a real thing and it can happen to anyone.
Many of us will be quick to point the blame on ourselves, second-guessing our ability to handle the stressors at work on top of the unexpected curve balls life can sometimes throw. More often than not, however, the culprit behind employee burnout is how leaders are running their organization rather than the capability of an individual.
Employee burnout has been around long before our current COVID-19 reality, but tossing a global pandemic into the mix certainly doesn’t help. In addition to the stress and uncertainty brought on by these unforeseen circumstances, organizations have been forced to rethink their approach to employee health and wellbeing. Don’t be fooled - employees can still experience burnout while working remotely from the comforts of home.
Related Article: The Cost of Poor Employee Engagement
Based on research conducted by Gallup, there are 5 main factors that contribute to employee burnout;
- Unfair treatment at work
- Unmanageable workload
- Lack in clarity of role
- Lack of communications and support for manager
- Unreasonable pressure
Signs & signals of potential burnout
The best tactic when it comes to combating burnout is being knowledgeable on warning signs and acting proactively. While it may be trickier to detect these while working remotely, the earlier you can spot these signs the better.
- Withdrawal from social activities, group calls, or messaging
- Lower productivity and efficiency than usual, trouble managing time
- Easily distracted and unable to focus on specific tasks
- Frequently using paid time off and sick leave
- Easily frustrated or overwhelmed
It is crucial that leaders recognize how detrimental employee burnout can be to an organization as a whole. People are a company's biggest asset, and when that employee morale or drive is lost it won’t take long before it’s reflected in the success of your business. But beyond dollars and cents, routinely burning out employees is not great for the reputation of a company. More burnout means more turnover, which not only costs money and time but can also suggest a toxic culture.
Related Article: How to Reward Wellness at Work
Strategies to overcome burnout
1) Make self-care part of the routine
This pandemic has been the kick in pants a lot of companies needed to make their people a priority. Practicing human empathy is a large part of supporting your team - pandemic or not. Encourage your remote employees to take breaks throughout the day to destress and regroup whether that means an extra coffee break, meditation, or afternoon walk. Even more, collectively brainstorm strategies for practicing self-care so everyone is on the same page and can identify potential stress signals if/when they occur.
2) Implement various channels for feedback & communication
Although there is no substitute for face to face interaction, we will be conducting business virtually for the foreseeable future - so embrace it. Ensure your team has a variety of different methods to stay in touch, and don’t neglect to have regular one-on-one check-in with team members - they are more important now than ever. This is also a great opportunity to adopt collaborative tools and applications if your organization has yet to do so. Encouraging transparent and consistently open communication is always a great investment.
3) Put people first
The unfortunate reality of employee burnout is that it usually isn’t recognized until someone already has one foot out the door (that is if they haven’t completely left). Question how your team approaches work, their accessibility of resources, and work relationship dynamics. Are your employees feeling supported? Are you investing in your team like you would any other asset of your organization? Prioritizing the wellbeing of your remote employees will only improve productivity and engagement, and in turn, your bottom line.
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