Managing Burnout in the Workplace

Feb 16 2022

Workplace stress and burnout are at all-time highs as we enter the third year of the pandemic. According to a recent APA survey, 79% of employees experienced work-related stress in the past month, with nearly 3 in 5 reporting negative impacts of stress like lack of interest, motivation, or energy.

Burnout is an issue that employers must address for long-term success. Burnout, which is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism about one’s job, and reduced efficiency, is often considered a personal problem, but it can have damaging impacts on companies as well. Burned-out employees become less productive, have increased absenteeism, and are more likely to quit. Recruiting and training someone new to replace an employee costs at least 16% of their annual salary—and up to 213% for specialized roles and managers.

The good news is that employers have a lot of power in managing workplace stress. Here are 3 ways to help reduce burnout for a healthier, happier, and more productive team.

Get Employee Feedback

Finding out how your employees feel about their jobs is a great first step in addressing potential burnout issues. There are a couple ways you can do that.

Conducting anonymous employee surveys (free options include SurveyPlanet and SurveyLegend) is helpful in getting a bird’s-eye view of employees’ attitudes, stress levels, and any major issues. If you find that there is a common issue among employees, then you have a direction for how to move forward. For instance, if a majority of employees indicate that their current job demands exceed their capacity, it’s probably time to start recruiting more people.

Alternatively, or in addition to general surveys, have your management team take the time to talk one-on-one with each person on your team and ask how they are. How are they doing personally? How do they feel about their career direction? How are they handling their workload? Consistently taking the time to check in with your team can reveal and address issues that cause burnout, like employees feeling a lack of support or control.

Provide Mental Health Support 

Mental health is a major priority for workers, especially Millennials and Gen Z. One of the most desired benefits by employees today is further mental health care coverage, like more therapy sessions and improved access to counselors.

You can promote mental health in the workplace in other ways too. These include:

  • Encourage mindfulness-related activities among workers and provide company-paid subscriptions to mindfulness apps like Calm and Headspace. You may even consider bringing in a yoga or guided meditation expert to teach mindfulness exercises.
  • Create private spaces where people can work uninterrupted. Open offices are great for collaboration, but they can sometimes be distracting or overstimulating. Having a dedicated quiet space, where employees are encouraged to turn off emails and messages to better focus, can tremendously boost productivity.
  • Hold walking meetings to get your team moving. Exercise is proven to boost mental and physical health, and walking meetings are the perfect opportunity to step away from the office chair, recharge your energy, and connect with the team.

Recognize Your Employees

When people first think of burnout, they usually imagine someone with too much work on their hands. While being overworked is a major contributor, feeling unrecognized, underappreciated, or alienated can play a big role in burnout.

Your people are what make your business great—and it’s critical that they feel a sense of belonging and achievement from their employer. Some ways you can do that include:

  • Starting meetings with your team by recognizing an accomplishment by each person. Always share gratitude when your employees or team are working hard on a project—encouragement goes a long way!
  • Making sure hybrid or remote work employees are acknowledged and included, as many are concerned about being excluded. Check in with your remote workers, acknowledge their work, and think about ways to keep them engaged with the workplace. Scheduling an in-office day once a month can be a great strategy to catch up on priorities as a team and build bonds among all employees.
  • Celebrating the birthdays of your employees, which could be an event held monthly if you have a large team.
  • Holding fun team-building activities—whether that’s a trip to the movie theater, a big lunch out, a holiday, or attending sporting event. Even better, poll your employees on what they would like to do!

Ask us your Human Resources and talent management questions via the online chat tool in the lower left corner of your screen. We love helping companies align their people with their business needs, and we love to share what we know.


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