Busting Burnout: Keeping Employees Engaged

In 2021, a study by Indeed found that 52% of employees reported experiencing burnout. That’s a huge uptick from the 43% who reported the same feelings before the pandemic. While these numbers are shocking, they aren’t surprising — especially when viewed within the context of the “Great Resignation” and changing labor market. Between staffing shortages that lead to longer, more grueling hours and added stress due to the pandemic, many workers are starting to wonder, “Is my job really worth it?” 

So, what is burnout? Merriam-Webster defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration” or “to cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted especially from overwork or overuse.” In other words, when it comes to your employees, burnout means that your staff feels exhausted, overworked, and stressed. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it is. Burnt out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day, 2.6 times more likely to be looking for another job, and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.  

While that may sound like some seriously bad news for business owners, a bright side exists. Luckily, burnout is generally preventable. It all comes down to company culture, rewarding staff based on performance, and setting standards that allow for proper work-life balance. 

Improve Company Culture 

Young business team at office cafeteria discussing ideas, talking during coffee break.

When people talk about company culture, they often make it sound like a one-dimensional buzzword. Some business owners think having a good company culture is all about throwing holiday parties, setting up a coffee bar, and putting up hammocks in the break room. But having a good company culture is about so much more than trivial amenities — it’s about how your employees treat each other. 

Do your employees feel like they can trust their manager to help them if they are struggling? Are they afraid to speak their minds for fear of retaliation? Is the atmosphere focused on office politics and drama? Do managers engage in preferential treatment? All these factors determine the health of company culture and, by extension, predict worker satisfaction. That’s why it is absolutely essential that your staff feels supported and respected at every level of your organization. Prioritizing positivity within your organization will impact the managers you hire and the way you train your HR department, and it will all go toward improving your employees’ overall satisfaction and retention rates. 

Reward Performance 

If you’re an employee, it can be difficult to keep coming to work every day when you know there is no long-term future for you at your company. That’s why it’s essential to offer promotional opportunities to employees who exceed expectations and consistently perform their duties in a high-quality manner. Your employees will feel appreciated and will be motivated to continue improving their performance over time. 

One great way to achieve this is through quarterly bonus opportunities based on performance. This strategy has been shown to yield a variety of benefits, including but not limited to increased employee motivation, better team collaboration, and friendly competition among employees. Even in the event that a quarterly bonus program isn’t practical within your industry, there are still a variety of ways to incentivize high employee performance and ensure your staff can advance within your company. 

Protect Work-Life Balance 

Cute little african kid son play toy cars with black dad, happy family small mixed race son and loving young father babysitter having fun racing on warm floor at home, family daddy child leisure game

One of the fastest ways to ensure your employees feel burnt out is to overwork them. 

So, how do you make sure your employees don’t feel like work has taken over their lives? Well, it starts with providing adequate vacation and sick time. A 2018 study from SHRM found that 68% of employees whose companies encouraged taking vacation time were considered to be “much happier” than other employees. It was also found that 78% of managers felt vacation improved employee focus and 81% felt it alleviated burnout. 

It’s also important to make sure your employees aren’t expected to work excessive amounts of overtime. In fact, several studies have found strong correlations between excessive overtime and negative health outcomes, including an increased risk of cardiovascular issues and mental health problems, such as depression. While sometimes overtime may be necessary for your industry, it is still essential that employees are not expected to put in overtime at levels considered excessive or unhealthy. If employees are asked to work overtime, it is appropriate to compensate them accordingly both monetarily and in the form of higher performance evaluations and mobility opportunities. 

So, with a little bit of forethought and consideration, you can help bust burnout and keep your employees satisfied for years to come. It’s all about considering your employees’ needs and adjusting accordingly.

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