How HR Managers Can Play a Role in Preventing Employee Burnout Before It Happens
You can tell when workers are burnt out by the looks on their faces and the way they carry themselves. They show signs of exhaustion and have trouble performing at their optimal levels, losing some of that spark they had when they were enthusiastic new hires.
Not only does burnout have a massive impact on employees’ well-being, but it also hurts organizations’ productivity and ultimately leads to expensive turnover. Culturally, the American office is beginning to shift as companies realize that their best people need to be given time and space to care for themselves.
The importance of self-care as it relates to mental health is become more and more important, and companies are starting to incorporate mental health days into their employee benefits plans. As the job market is opening doors to millennials and Gen Z workers, generations that have grown up with the idea that mental health is something to be taken seriously, employers who want any chance of attracting and retaining talent must adapt for those needs.
You can help by taking part in this important shift and moving it forward within your organization. How can you help prevent employee burnout? Try these tips.
Start With Promoting Restfulness
Just as you would take steps to prevent your children from missing out on vital rest, you must do the same for your staff members. Obviously, you can’t check up on them and force them to make good choices, but you can set them up for success and encourage them to get the sleep they need to perform well so they can come to work refreshed and alert.
One of the most important steps to take is to ensure that no work-related communications interfere with employees’ sleep. Even though our constant connectivity technically allows people to do work at 11 PM after a long day in the office, that doesn’t mean they should. It’s important to create a culture with boundaries that allow people to unplug at the end of the day and get some sleep.
Share tools with employees to help them compartmentalize their work and personal lives. Encourage employees to turn off notifications after work hours and stress to them that the office culture supports that.
You might also consider being more flexible with scheduling. Not everyone functions optimally on the same sleep schedule! Allowing people to come to work when they’re at their best can really make life happier for everyone while potentially boosting performance.
Obviously, it’s important for people to fulfill their work duties. But do they really need to be at the office by 8:30 AM to do so? Remember: you don’t have to go as far as creating nap rooms to help promote restfulness! Simple, mindful steps will do the trick for way cheaper.
When It’s Time to Give Rest to the Weary
It may be counterintuitive to get people to work harder by sending them home for a day or week, but as most HR professionals know, vacations and personal days are essential for employees’ well-being, attitude, and work ethic. Sometimes, you just have to give some rest to the weary and realize when it’s time to take a step back to prevent burnout.
Allowing and even encouraging people to take personal or mental health days during busy times can have an enormous positive impact on their mood and ability to focus. So can encouraging employees to take advantage of the vacation they’re entitled to. During the summer months and around the holidays are great opportunities for longer vacations that help to refresh employees’ mental wellness and enthusiasm.
It’s important to lay a distinction to employees between sick days and mental health days, as they are not the same and offer employees different benefits. A mental health day is for mental rest and relaxation and can be spent in a lot of different ways. A traditional sick day is for physical illnesses. Some companies go a step further by offering specific mental health days.
According to Amy Quarton, associate instructor for the online organizational leadership program at Maryville University, “if used strategically, encouraging the use of mental health days can help employees prevent and cope with job stress. It works by empowering them to make decisions about how they manage stress and the demands of multiple roles. This strategy can also influence people’s perceptions of the organization and its managers by symbolizing care and concern for the employee.”
On a smaller scale, you can create mini-breaks at the office. Organize some in-office activities that get people away from their desks and having a little fun. Around holidays such as Halloween or Christmas, it’s easy to come up with simple and not time-consuming activities that can boost employee morale and encourage employees to take a break from their screens.
Busting stress as much as you can will help prevent burnout among your employees and build goodwill in the office.
Nurture a Corporate Culture of Wellness
The truth is that 69 percent of people don’t feel that the organizations they work for take enough steps to address stress and burnout. Clearly, most companies either don’t value a culture of wellness or simply don’t understand how powerful it can be in helping employees to stay happy and healthy.
Stress reduction programs can help you move toward a supportive environment in the office that promotes wellness and health. While some programs do involve a significant investment, like subsidizing gym memberships (or even adding a gym on-site!) or employees’ sessions with a mental health professional, others are much easier to implement.
Simple gestures like offering a yoga class a couple of times a week, creating an office fitness challenge, or providing mental health days to all employees can make a difference. Not sure what will be the most helpful for your team? Ask them for their feedback!
Sometimes a simple conversation between a manager and employee can bridge the communication gap and make an employee’s wellness feel like a priority. If you’re a manager, sit down with your employees and ask them to speak up if they ever feel like their workload is becoming overwhelming. Share examples in your life and career when you had to ask for help. By showing that you too have suffered from burn out and mental stress, it makes it safer and more comfortable for your employees to speak up if they need it.
Burnout Looks Different For Different People
When most people think of employee burnout, they think of an employee who is overworked with their day to day tasks. But burnout can also involve feelings of anxiety when thinking about your goals and future at the company.
It’s essential and a positive flag for a company to set their employees on a path of growth with frequent goal setting objectives. However, some employees might feel overwhelmed with constant reminders of ways they need to grow and change their work patterns.
Leadership and managers should make sure to set reasonable and achievable goals that don’t overwhelm the employee. And it’s important to give employees time to develop their own work routine and schedule. Give employees time to master the skills they’re currently working on and feel ready to take on new ones before throwing new tasks and goals at them.
Think Long-Term When It Comes to EmployeeWellness
If you really want to reduce employee burnout, it’s important to realize that change doesn’t happen overnight. Cultures are built slowly. But by focusing your efforts on wellness, stress reduction, and recognition, you can help your employees take control and feel calmer and more focused at work.
“Long-term steps should focus on stress prevention by teaching employees how to proactively manage their mental, physical, and emotional health. Give employees options by implementing a combination of strategies and then encouraging people to use them. Don’t punish employees for using the resources that are available to them,” Quarton says.
In 2020, set your company on a mindset of long-term company wellness and growth. Prioritize employee happiness and retention as goals for the year. Employees are what make a company great, and you can’t expect to grow without employee satisfaction.
Ryan Ayers is a strategy and management consultant with over five years of experience in multiple industries including information technology, medical devices and logistics. Many clients call him the BizTech Guru. He is a freelance writer on the side and lover of all things related to business, technology, innovation and the LA Clippers.
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