Business managers are perpetually looking for ways to increase productivity. However, these measures must be carefully implemented. Push too little and you may not be maximizing your workforce. Push too hard and your employees may experience burnout.

Unfortunately, instances of burnout are far too common, making it a legitimate concern across industries. According to a survey by McKinsey, one in four workers reported experiencing its symptoms. In addition, this state of exhaustion costs U.S. corporations a staggering $1.8 trillion.

How can you prevent burnout?

ControTask shares tips and tools you can use to avoid it, including how to measure employee burnout. But first, let’s review what burnout is.

What Is Burnout?

According to the World Health Organization, “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

It’s a state of overwhelming exhaustion and hopelessness that causes a lack of motivation and interest in everything that employees do. While it can start at work due to heavy workloads and unrealistic expectations, its negative effects can quickly spread to their personal lives.

Signs and Symptoms of Employee Burnout

How do you know if your employees are at risk of burnout?

Look for these signs:

  • Decision fatigue

  • Missing deadlines

  • Loss of motivation

  • Lack of satisfaction

  • Sudden weight change

  • Cynicism or pessimism

  • Decreased productivity

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Making careless mistakes

  • Detachment from work and colleagues

  • Chronic fatigue, irritability, and exhaustion

  • Missing work more than usual (absenteeism)

  • Recurring illness due to a weakened immune system

It’s important to understand that burnout isn’t always visible. This means you’ll have to pay attention to your employees’ behavior and performance. Doing so will allow you to take action quickly, helping them preserve their mental health while reducing turnover.

Impact of Employee Burnout

According to a systematic review, job burnout could lead to a range of physical, psychological, and occupational consequences for workers, including:

  • Insomnia

  • Headaches

  • Job dissatisfaction

  • Depressive disorders

  • Musculoskeletal pain

  • Psychological distress

It also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, research indicates it can lead to cognitive impairment. Additionally, it can affect attention and short-term memory while reducing workers’ sense of efficacy.

This has far-reaching outcomes for companies. Employees experiencing burnout can’t perform at their best. They’re more likely to call in sick, be less productive, inattentive, less creative, and more prone to make mistakes. This can upset team dynamics and create extra work for their colleagues. They’re also more than twice as likely to search for new jobs, so it could mean higher turnover rates.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent burnout.

Preventive Measures Against Burnout

The following sections explain how you can create a more supportive environment for your employees.

Hiring Better Leaders

Burnout doesn’t just happen when someone works too hard. It can also develop when managers do not properly communicate their expectations. So, if you want to reduce the risk of employee burnout, start by improving your leadership.

Good leaders are flexible and open to different perspectives. They are emotionally intelligent and can communicate well. They’re adept at reading people and situations and know when they must respond with greater sensitivity.

Promoting Work-Life Balance

Employees spend one-third of their lives at work. Knowledge workers are known to dedicate even more hours toward their professions. Because employees spend a great deal of time at work, HR departments and managers must create a company culture that supports work-life balance.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Offer remote working

  • Encourage employees to establish clear boundaries

  • Discourage employees from taking their work home (just as Volkswagen did)

It’s also a great idea to ask your team about measures that would make their work experience more pleasant.

Encouraging Regular Breaks

Taking breaks may seem counterintuitive, but it has some serious benefits.

  • Relieves stress

  • Puts people in a better mood

  • Fuels creativity

  • Gives employees new perspectives

  • Keeps motivation levels high

You should also consider that our brains are wired to have short bursts of attention, so taking regular breaks throughout the workday will allow our minds to rest and rejuvenate. This enhances workers’ ability to focus, helps them avoid decision fatigue, and leads to greater productivity.

Tips for Managing Employee Burnout

What if you have employees who already feel burned out? What do you do?

It’s not too late. You can still help them manage it.

Lead by Example

A recent study by Workvivo revealed that 98% of HR professionals are burned out. If your management team is spending too much time at work, it sets the standard for those on the lower rungs of the ladder. So, if you want your employees to function at their best, your leaders need to set an example by practicing work-life balance.

You can start by emphasizing wellness. Create reasonable and manageable workloads, organize social activities, and offer paid time off.

Listen to Employees

Those experiencing excessive employee stress don’t perform well, are irritable, are more prone to errors, and have low energy. Often, they don’t communicate with their bosses about these issues because they’re afraid of being perceived as the weakest link.

By listening to their needs and genuinely caring about their overall wellness, you can create a more open culture at work and give them the support they need.

Implement Wellness Programs

Recovery from burnout doesn’t happen on its own. It only gets progressively worse until the underlying issues are addressed. That’s why it’s important to support your employees by offering wellness and employee assistance programs. These can help them with personal or work-related issues.

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Repetitive tasks are boring, time-consuming, and maddening. They can cause major stress, induce mental fatigue, lead to musculoskeletal tenderness and pain, and make work less enjoyable. As bored workers are twice as likely to leave a company, you must find ways to automate mundane, monotonous tasks.

As a bonus, it will free up employee time that can be redirected towards more productive and meaningful work that can give your bottom line a significant boost.

Optimize Employee Engagement

According to Gallup, highly engaged teams are 18% more productive than those with low engagement. However, employees with too much work engagement could be exposed to a higher risk of burnout because of emotional exhaustion and cynicism.

Striking a balance can be tricky, but it’s not impossible.

Simple initiatives like giving your team flexibility and autonomy over their work schedules could make them 43% less likely to experience burnout. These measures can also reduce stress, give them a sense of purpose, and lead to job satisfaction.

Prevent Employee Burnout With ControTask

You now know what causes burnout, the signs and symptoms to look for, and the impact it can have on your team and organization.

But how to measure employee burnout?

ControTask has a host of features that allow you to monitor employee activity and productivity metrics. This helps you determine what is triggering a dip in their efficiency so you can adjust their workloads and tasks accordingly. At the same time, you ensure they perform at their maximum potential, deliver quality service, and boost your bottom line.

Get started today to create a positive and more balanced work-life culture.