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Employee Burnout – How to Spot it and Take Action

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Do you know how to spot the signs of burnout and how to tackle it?

People have been more likely to experience burnout of late, but do you know what the signs of burnout actually are? Burnout has been a problem for many workers for years, but the last year and a half could give rise to more burnout than ever among the global workforce.

Signs of burnout include the feeling of emptiness, frustration, and exhaustion. A few of the other symptoms of burnout include:

  • Getting irritated easily

  • Anxiety and/or depression

  • Mistakes in day-to-day tasks

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), burnout is an occupational phenomenon “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. And that stress does not only come from too many hours. So how do you recognise the signs of burnout?

Reasons behind employee burnout:

  1. Pressure at Work

Jobs with an overwhelming workload can create unwanted pressure on employees. Despite best intentions to make employees more productive, somehow, management might end up on the wrong side. Employees might be working more than their limits, which can result in an increase in burnout levels at work. This can start to affect them mentally, which may leave them feeling frustrated.

  1. Unfair Treatment

Unfair treatment at work is another reason that leads to burnout. Unfair treatment includes bias, favouritism, mistreatment, unjust policies, and the list goes on. The psychological impact of unfair treatment is enormous. It can hamper relationships which often leads to a lack of satisfaction at work. Often when such situations arise, employee absenteeism increases, or employees leave their job for their good.

  1. Lack of Direction and Leadership

If employees do not have a clear job description to work from, they can often feel lost and overwhelmed, not knowing what falls onto their desk and what doesn’t. If an employee is confused as to what their job fully entails, it can impede productivity and affect employee morale which will inevitably increase rate of burnout in your organisation.

For employees to be at their best, effective communication is essential. With proper communication, it becomes easier for employees to open up and voice their concerns to management. In contrast, if employees have a confronting and unapproachable manager, the chances are that will keep their problems contained and therefore increase burnout.

Tackling employee burnout:

Employee burnout is not inevitable. Below is a list of how to can prevent burnout and tackle it.

  1. Discuss the Problem Head on

When employees are not being their usual selves, something might be wrong with them like a sudden change of attitude or performance. If employees are suddenly going through such phases, they might be facing burnout. And to solve this issue, you need to sit with them and discuss it out. Discuss what is bothering them and try to dig into the issues that they are facing. Creating a supportive work environment is crucial to reducing or preventing employee burnout. This can be easier said than done but by being open with employees and asking them for their input and ideas, it may make the task a little easier!

  1. Provide Autonomy

Autonomy allows employees to be more flexible and have control over their work. When employees have a choice to choose their work, and the time they’ll need to complete it, levels of burnout will soon rapidly decrease. Having autonomy in your job increases employee engagement and also boosts the individual’s confidence.

  1. Kick the Stress

Stress has constantly been plaguing organisations and is something that is often hard to avoid. Providing more precise goals and objectives to employees about their jobs and giving them clear direction can help reduce day to day stress. Acknowledging and discussing stress and anxiety regularly in the workplace can let employees know that they can come to you if they are feeling overwhelmed or close to burnout.

Wait, what if YOU are suffering from burnout?

If any of the above sounds familiar to you (regardless if you manage staff or not), it’s important to first acknowledge the problem and stop yourself from thinking you’ll be fine if you just get through the next week/month/project. If you’re suffering from burnout right now, it’s only going to get worse, so the first step is to talk to your superior about how you’re feeling. Often, one of the best things you can do to start healing is to take some time off and engage in some self-care. Self-care is about re-engaging with your body and putting healthy habits back into your life while you take a mental break from work. This means resetting your sleep patterns, making sure you take some time to exercise and eating reasonably healthy to give your body the best chance at building a resilience.