The red hot problem faced by most organizations today is Employee Burnout. What exactly is Employee Burnout?
“Employee Burnout is a situation where a worker is exhausted physically, mentally or emotionally.”
In today’s challenging work environment, it is a difficult task to gather a valuable workforce and it is an even bigger challenge to retain them! It is every organization’s objective to churn out maximum productivity out of this talented workforce. In such a scenario will it be viable to lose such intelligently acquired employees? Of course not!
Employee Burnout is not only about losing good employees, it is about losing the productivity that should be acquired from them. A burned out employee also leads to bigger losses.
Impacts of burned out employees:
1. Excessive healthcare expense: An overworked employee may start getting unhealthy both psychologically and physically resulting in high healthcare cost to the company. It is estimated that in the US, Employee Burnout is costing organizations an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending.
2. Absenteeism: A large number of employees admit calling in sick only because they were unable to deal with the fatigue caused by work.
“There is a big difference between calling in sick because of a hangover and doing so because of more serious problems such as stress or being overworked. While it is unlikely employees will repeatedly pull a sickie for trivial reasons, failing to address underlying issues such as workplace stress and an unhealthy work life balance will undoubtedly result in recurrent patterns of absenteeism. This will then have a significant negative impact on business productivity.”
– Paul Avis, Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance
3. High turnover: The latest study in the employee engagement series conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace states that up to 50% of an organization’s turnover is due to Employee Burnout.
“Employee burnout has reached epidemic proportions. While many organizations take steps to manage employee fatigue, there are far fewer efforts to proactively manage burnout. Not only can employee burnout sap productivity and fuel absenteeism, but as this survey shows, it will undermine engagement and cause an organization’s top performers to leave the business altogether. This creates a never-ending cycle of disruption that makes it difficult to build the high-performing workforce needed to compete in today’s business environment.”
– Charlie DeWitt, vice president, business development, Kronos
This however is only the tip of the iceberg; the list of repercussions caused by burnout can go on if we look at it in detail.
Employee burnout indicators:
One of the biggest tasks for an HR Manager is to build a strong and healthy workforce and then to maintain it. Sometimes we might have employees who are struck with fatigue and are heading down the line to “Employee Burnout”. Employee Burnout is a gradual process with alarming indicators, if a HR Personnel detects the early signs; there are always solutions to prevent burnout. These indicators include:
1. Increased absenteeism
2. Carelessness in work
5. Inability to understand instructions
6. Lack of involvement and socialization
Major causes of Employees Burnout:
If Employee Burnout problem is this big it is important to look into the reasons causing Employee Burnout. While it is easy to say that Employee Burnout is caused by being overworked, that is not the only reason. There is definitely more than that to this problem and the root cause of being overworked also need to be understood.
1. Excessive collaborations:
Companies with huge alliances and collaborations invest a lot of time in meetings and conferences for all the employees to stay on the same page. Not just this; larger alliances mean larger number of approvals which means more emails, more waiting for replies and unnecessary re-dos and amendments. The larger the number of decision makers the larger the number of opinions leading to confusions and going over the same thing again and again. Such an environment engages an employee’s time in unnecessary activities, leaving very less time for actual productivity and creativity. Eventually leading to stress of not being able to meet deadlines or producing below average work which consequently leads to fatigue.
2. Buried with emails:
“A Microsoft study found that it takes people an average of 15 minutes to return to an important project after an email interruption.”
And here we are talking about one email; if we multiply this by the number of emails an average employee deals with each day, we will be left with hardly any time for actual work. According to a research, senior executives receive 200 or more emails per day. The average frontline supervisor devotes about eight hours each week (a full business day) to sending, reading and answering e-communications.
There should be strict rules regarding the usage of the facility of CC and BCC while sending an email.
Also the expected time for an email reply must be at least 5 to 6 hours, releasing the stress of not noticing and answering to the email for an employee.
Similarly, employees must not be expected to respond to emails and communications after office hours.
There should be a sensible breakup of management tiers. The employees must be split into tiers in terms of receiving communications.
Not every email needs to reach the management, there should be supervisors for small groups according to their task. These groups must only mark their supervisor while emailing, it is then the job of that supervisor to pick and choose information out of these emails and notify those above them.
Similarly each chunk of information in the emails must be filtered and only the very important and relevant information must move up the tier.
3. Mismanagement of resources:
Companies often wrongly access the capability of an employee and assign them tasks, which are a challenge for them on an everyday basis. This incompetency obviously leads to work stress and burnout. The inability to perform exceptionally causes lack of confidence and leads to a constant decline in an employee’s performance and personality causing great loss to the company.
4. Poor time management:
Time management is not every man’s forte. Some employees just couldn’t manage the tasks at hand well, especially if their job requires multitasking, while others waste a lot of time on social media. Once an employee is tight on time he/she will feel stressed and once the stress crosses a line they will eventually feel drained and burnt out.
5. Inadequate rewards:
When there is hard work there will always be a desire for return, be it a small note of appreciation. Some companies miss out on the concept of giving back altogether. What needs to be understood is that there will always be a need for rewarding employees. These rewards can at times be monetary, sometimes appreciation certificates and sometimes employee benefits. Lack of these disheartened employees and make them feel demotivated.
6. The big scare – “karoshi”:
Organizations need to take this seriously before they head to a condition of the likes of Japan. Japan has one of the world’s worst case of “under pressure employees”. Employees are forced to work such long hours that they cannot handle the situation and either commit suicide or die of heart attacks or failure; mostly because of violation of labor laws by companies.
It is such a bad state that a term has been derived for it; “Karoshi” a term invented in the 1970s translating into “death by overwork”. Japan has been struggling since then to ease up on employees and pull out solutions for this horrific dilemma.
Simple steps to prevent employee burnout:
1. Talk about it:
The company must have a very open culture about Employee Burnout where the issue is openly discussed. Employees who feel fatigued must be encouraged to talk about it with their supervisors. Also employees must be asked to report and alarm the management if they feel that their colleagues are facing burnout.
2. Employee trainings:
Trainings must be held for the staff to improve task roles. Each employee must get better at what he/she does. This will develop dedication and interest in their respective jobs.
3. Assigning the right employee for the right job:
It is the core responsibility of Human Resource manager to access an employee well and only acquire the best candidate to fit the job. Jobs descriptions must be straightforward and made very clear to the employees.
There should be constant check on performance and evaluations as well. An open two-way communications with transparency must be conducted from time to time.
4. Time management:
Companies can help their employees utilize their time better by assigning slots for checking emails and using social media. Task priorities must also be set by deadline-wise. Agile systems and smart software must be employed to save time.
5. Adequate breaks:
Employees must get a good amount of time off for lunch; other small breaks must also be allowed to stretch the body and refresh the mind.
6. Healthy activities:
Sports events and other healthy recreational activities must be arranged for employees at large scale, which can serve as a healthy break and good opportunity for team bonding and socialization.
7. Stay flexible:
The company must always be flexible towards employees, if an employee needs to take time off for his/her child’s soccer game or school concert, the policies must allow. Similarly paid sick leaves must also be encouraged.
8. Discouraging overtime:
Organizations must have realistic work hours. Employees must be discouraged to work overtime or take work home. Companies must ensure that they are well staffed (in terms of numbers) so as to maintain workload balance on workers.
No matter how big the problem may be, there will always be solutions. Organizations must keep a positive, stress free culture where employees can ease up their pressure. HR must have an open door policy regarding hearing out employees so they can always open up their hearts out in times of stress. Health Clubs and Fitness Facilities must be provided to workers to help them drain out stress.
A stress free employee is an organization’s asset!
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