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Employee Burnout Can Be Fatal – for Employees and Companies Alike

Ever felt so frustrated by work that you almost snapped?

Tight schedules and crushing pressures are part and parcel of modern-day work environments. The depression-like symptoms often experienced by professionals as a result of various factors at work is referred to as Employee Burnout.

Stress at work can give rise to extreme physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, leading to a loss of personal identity and a sense of reduced accomplishment on the part of employees.

A major catalyst of reduced productivity, employee burnout costs $125 billion to $190 billion in healthcare spending each year in the U.S. alone, reported Harvard Business Review.

Employee Burnout is a pretty common phenomenon affecting many organizations today, from start-ups to global enterprises.

“Burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stresses on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy” – Maslach , Schaufeli, and Leiter.

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What are the Common Signs of Employee Burnout?

Some of the common symptoms of burnout are lack of motivation to go to the workplace, reduced  productivity, disengagement, dullness at work, a sense of being hindered constantly, irritability, lack of patience, excessive sarcasm or cynicism, body pain, neck pain, headaches, etc.

Major Causes of Employee Burnout:

Unclear Job Expectations

In organizations where job-roles are not properly defined and there is a lack of a clear line of authority, employees tend to get confused and frustrated frequently.

Failure to Maintain a Balance Between Professional and Personal Lives

Often resulting because of factors including an inherent desire to please everybody and taking up unmanageable workloads, finding the work-life balance is the top priority for 33% of workers who prefer it over compensation, advancement, and job stability. Folks in Business Development roles are called upon most during vacation time (44%), calculate the odds of them getting burned-out.

Boredom at Workplace

Performing monotonous and sluggish tasks, or working day in, day out on the same tasks may lead to physical and mental fatigue.

Workplace Hostility

Working in close association with “”workplace bullies”, being undermined by your colleagues, and various forms of negative inter-personal treatment at the workplace add to the stress.

Automation and Excessive Collaboration

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but automation has played an immense role in demoralizing a vast percentage of workers in the recent years. They fear job-losses owing to the role of tech in offering better automation and collaboration opportunities while they might fail to upskill themselves, experts predict more vacancies in the future with major role-shifts, of course.

Also, multi-tasking which is considered a positive in the modern-day scenario is actually counter-productive. David Meyer from the University of Michigan showed via a study that switching what you’re doing mid-task increases the time it takes you to finish both tasks by 25%.

“While in the past employee burnout was mostly caused by bad management practices, recently I see a new phenomenon – employees oppose work automation in fear of being made redundant. Automation reduces the workload, thus decreasing the likelihood of employee burnout and employees have more time to develop new skills and remain competitive in the labor market.” – Lilia Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify.

Lack of Social Support

Burnout at the workplace can’t be attributed solely to the work activities. Many a time, employees may feel isolated in their personal lives and that can have a negative impact on their professional performances.

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Why Should You Care?

Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job. And even if they stay, they typically have 13% lower confidence in their performanceGallup survey.

The WHYs of controlling employee burnout are pretty evident by now! There are no excuses for not working actively towards creating a more amicable work-environment and taking steps in the right direction for their own good. Else, absenteeism will be on the rise, productivity will decrease, organizational costs will increase, and retaining quality talent will be a problem.

Let’s move on to understand how burnouts can be controlled and reduced.

Preventing Employee Burnout – Where to Start?

Establish Clear Employee Roles and Responsibilities

Be upfront about the roles and responsibilities of the employees’ right from crafting the job description. Keep a culture where employees can say no to work outside of their desired profile. Having an open-door policy helps. It has also been found out that employees who are involved in decision-making processes are more engaged at workplace, and hence, are less prone to burnouts.

Stop Employees from Overworking

Promoting a healthy work schedule is crucial for companies looking out to keep a check on employee burnouts. The need is to respect the personal life of their staff and keep an eye on the employees keying in extra hours frequently. Provide regular feedback; try to know why people are working long hours – is it because of too much work, excess pressure, lack of resources, dip in productivity, or just their willingness to show off hard work! This will help in gaining insights into their training and counseling needs.

Short staffed - overworking
No, not this way!

Set up a Mental Health Policy

Establishing a mental health policy at the workplace can greatly help with identifying employees on the verge of burnout, or those already suffering from it. Taking ample measures gets easier. Companies should cover features such as assistance programs, counseling services, or therapy sessions under their insurance programs.

“It’s crucial to address the issue of burnout, especially with the prevailing culture that constantly celebrates hustling and over-delivering. There is a thin line between working to live and living to work. It’s true that it may not be possible to quantify work or always strike the perfect balance. However, when we begin to associate our sense of worth and fulfillment merely with designations, numbers and career milestones, we end up losing perspective of what truly matters. We need to value our emotional wellbeing and physical health above all else,” Communication and EQ Coach, Junie George Varghese notes.

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