Employee Burnout: A Current Overview

August 5, 2022

Employee burnout is a very serious issue. After all, your company could be exhausting its employees without even realizing it! Whether it is virtual meeting marathons, multitasking, or sending emails after work, burnout can take many forms, but the end result is the same: demotivated employees,  reduced productivity, and unsatisfactory corporate performance. 

Employee Burnout, according to Gallup's recent report, Causes and Cures found that 76 percent of employees experience burnout on the job occasionally, and 28 percent report being burned out "very frequently" or "always".

Overwork is commonly assumed to be the sole cause of occupational burnout. And the most common ways to recover from burnout are to work fewer hours, take a vacation, take a day off, or do anything that does not constitute work. Employee burnout is caused by factors other than the number of hours people work each week. 

Burnout risk increases significantly when employees work more than 50 hours per week and rises even further after 60 hours. However, how people perceive their workload has a greater impact on burnout than the number of hours worked. In this article, we will look at the symptoms, causes, and strategies for preventing employee burnout in your organization.

What Does Employee Burnout Mean?

Employee burnout is a type of workplace stress recognized even by the World Health Organization (WHO), in which employees experience general dissatisfaction with their work as well as multiple levels of exhaustion, including mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. As a result, the employee doesn't feel up to the task of their daily work and therefore is typically disinterested and disengaged in their work or area of expertise, resulting in mental distance and overall decreased productivity.

Organizationally, this often results in higher staff turnover and defections, reduced employee engagement, and has a detrimental effect on workplace culture, which can have a negative impact on overall business performance. Employees' desire to learn and grow is reduced by work burnout. When employees display these signs of burnout, the majority of their energy and focus is on getting through the day rather than developing for the future.

Identifying Whether Your Employees Are Experiencing a Burnout

Employee burnout isn't a sudden occurrence and tends to happen over a period of time. If you want to know whether your employees are facing burnout, these performance metrics are great indicators:

Sickness - Increased employee absenteeism due to illness can indicate that your employees are facing burnout and may cost your company working days. According to research, employees who frequently experience work burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.

Errors at Work - Employees experiencing burnout may make more mistakes on a daily basis because they are less careful about what they are doing. This could be due to a lack of interest and passion for the job at hand.

Motivation - A lack of motivation leads to a lack of innovation and productivity. If you believe there has been a brain drain at your company but no one has left, you may be suffering from burnout.

Turnover - Higher staff turnover and attrition rates, as well as employees leaving the company more quickly, can result not only in fewer employees but also in higher overall recruiting costs.

Leading Causes for Employee Burnout

The increasingly fast-paced, complex, and demanding nature of modern workplaces can lead to burnout in even the best employees. Many employees are overwhelmed at work by competing priorities and contrasting expectations most jobs have from them. And advanced technology has made it easier to access people at any time, blurring the line between the work and home lives of most people.  Some of the leading causes of employees burnout are:

Workplace discrimination - When your employees are forced to work in conditions where they aren’t respected or their work isn’t respected, they are putting in a lot more effort on a regular basis to stay motivated and perform better. The need to constantly put in more effort than their colleagues might drive them to burnout. 

More work than they can handle - Overwork or having too much to do can manifest itself in various ways. Some people are affected by the long hours they work, whereas others are affected more by the number of tasks they must complete or the complexity of their work. Employees who wholeheartedly agree that they always have too much to do are twice as likely to report experiencing burnout at work very frequently or always.

Managers' lack of support - Manager support is critical to avoiding burnout. Manager support acts as a psychological buffer, letting employees understand that their leader has their back even when problems arise. Employees who strongly agree that their manager supports them are approximately 70% less likely to experience burnout on a regular basis.

Workplace Culture and Management Style - Both workplace culture and management style can have a significant impact on burnout. Employees who do not enjoy coming into the office or even opening their laptops every morning to begin work may experience burnout quickly. The same holds true if their managers put them under pressure or micromanage them.

Solutions To Employee Burnout

Combating employee burnout can help your organization and employees tremendously. Much like a stitch in time saves nine situations, the earlier you can identify whether your employees are facing burnout and acting on it, the easier it will be for you to engage your employees and prevent brain drain at your company. There are a few ways to ensure your employees feel heard and supported at your organization. 

1. Eliminate Multitasking: Consider multitasking a piece of history. Studies have found that switching between responsibilities does not increase productivity — it decreases productivity and increases stress! Give your team a clear work plan and communicate which tasks are a priority. Your employees will be able to manage their time more effectively if they create to-do lists for themselves.

Fewer interruptions and switching lead to increased productivity, focus, and happier employees! Overall, this is a critical component of how we view strategic work as a competitive advantage for your company.

2. Establish Work-Life Balance: Work-life balance has become an extremely important topic in the last decade or so. Not only for employees but also for organizations that must assist in achieving this balance. As tempting as it is to delegate work to employees to finish over their weekend, being mindful of their personal time can help in preventing burnout to a very large extent.

Your employees should feel free to focus solely on their lives and there should be weekend email policies enforced. In case a manager has sent out work to an employee over the weekend and they have failed to respond to the intimation, they shouldn't be penalized for it. 

3. Make employee well-being a part of your company's culture: If an organization's culture encourages employees to work excessively long hours, work during personal time, and generally prioritize work over family, employees may come to resent their jobs and workplaces.

Making your employee's well-being a priority of its culture and providing resources for employees to live healthier lives, and take better care of themselves, they will be happier at work and more engaged and motivated to perform better. With the knowledge that one's employers care not only about their work but also about them on a human/personal level, they will be able to have a better connection to the organization and are less likely to leave. 

4. Keep an open communication channel: This is particularly true for HR and Team leaders; how do you keep your organization's pulse? Preventing burnout begins with recognizing when and how it occurs.

So, in order to get a proper prevention program in place, you must keep your employees informed. Plan review meetings and appraisals, gather feedback, send out pulse surveys, and find out how people are feeling.

If you discover that people are happy, that's fantastic! However, if they are stressed or overworked, you may need to quickly devise initiatives to keep that spark alive before they burn out.

To Conclude

Employee burn has adverse effects on employee engagement and retention. By improving the employee experience, organizations can systematically target burnout. The employee experience encompasses an employee's entire journey with their organization. It encompasses all of an employee's interactions with the organization throughout the employee life cycle. From the culture of the organization to employee engagement programs, most employees at this point are looking for meaning and personal growth from their work. 

If you are looking for interesting ways to engage your employees then we suggest you check out employee volunteerism for your employees. Engaging your employees in volunteering programs can help boost their morale, and give them a sense of belonging and purpose

Chezuba is a platform that offers solutions for your employee engagement programs. With a gamified platform that offers over 1000 interesting volunteering projects for employees to choose from and an all-in-one management software for HRs to oversee your employee volunteerism, Chezuba has it all. Book a free demo to learn more.

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