Employee burnout can have serious consequences not only for productivity but also for workplace morale. It’s even more severe when a previous superstar employee shows signs of burnout. More worrying for employers is just how common burnout is among employees. Around 67% of employees report feeling burnt out either sometimes or routinely at work. As an employer, you’re probably wondering the best ways to handle this situation.
One of the most common reasons for employee burnout is an excessive workload. High performers often get asked to take on additional work because success breeds more responsibility. At a certain point, though, those extra responsibilities become a psychological weight and distraction from core responsibilities. Talk with your burnt out employee and ask about their workload. If they’re simply overwhelmed by all the work on their plate, offer to transfer some non-essential tasks to other employees.
Takeaway: Even the highest-performing employees only have so many hours per day. Don’t overtax their abilities with non-critical tasks.
Vary the Workload
It seems self-evident that the most demanding or crucial work should go to the most talented or senior employee. After all, they have the insight or experience necessary for those tasks. Yet, lobbing the hardest work at the same employees for years on end can sap their mental resources. Periodically give those employees lower-stakes work. It gives them a chance to recharge mentally and emotionally.
Takeaway: You want your best employees on their A-game, so give them the room to catch their breath sometimes.
Model Good Behaviors
Even if you work 18 hour days, it’s unrealistic to pin that expectation on your employees. Don’t send out critical emails during off-work hours and expect a response by breakfast. Use your vacation time and encourage employees to do the same. Use your lunch hour to actually eat a healthy lunch away from your desk. You can even set up self-care activities, such as a meditation workshop, to help employees learn better techniques for managing stress.
Takeaway: Employees will take their cues from their supervisors and managers. If you work extreme hours and never slow down, employees will feel like they need to follow suit. Burnt out, employees will follow.
Managing employee burnout can take a deft touch, especially if the employee is a high performer. You don’t want to imply that you’re taking work away as punishment. You may want to start couch conversations about burnout in terms of concern for their well-being. In that light, most employees will be honest about feeling overwhelmed or needing a break from some tasks.
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