Employee burnout is nothing new. However, the impact of the coronavirus has increased the rate at which employees are becoming burned out. The impact of the virus hit us in March, that was more than six months ago. Now schools are back in session, the virus continues to spread, flu season is just around the corner, and the majority of people are still working from home in an isolated environment.
A recent survey showed a 15% increase since April in the number of employees citing they were feeling burned out, up to 60% from 45%. Working remotely adds to employees’ stress levels with the feeling of increased workloads, a lack of support, and a lack of clarity around performance expectations.
Nearly every organization has made a point to focus on wellness initiatives during the pandemic. However, the novelty of Zoom social get-togethers has worn off and isn’t a replacement for actual in-person contact. Burnout reduces employee engagement and lessens their desire to learn and grow. Instead of a proactive approach to their role, their focus and energy is spent on daily survival. Identifying and addressing burnout should be a top priority for executive teams.
So what does burnout look like? According to the World Health Organization, when someone is experiencing burnout they will demonstrate one or more of the following signs:
- Feeling depleted or exhausted
- Mentally distant from their job
- Negative feelings or cynicism about their job
- Reduced professional efficacy
According to Gallup, left unchecked, burnout can lead to anxiety and depression in employees and costs companies between $125 billion and $190 billion in lost productivity and healthcare costs. Employees experiencing burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day, 23% more likely to visit the ER, and 2.6 times more likely to be looking for a new position.
As a leader, the first thing to do is to talk about it. Bring it out into the open so people feel comfortable addressing it. Make sure employees know it’s not just them and they are not alone in feeling these issues. Everyone will experience them to certain degrees and it’s okay to talk about them and to seek help. Humanizing the issue reduces any stigma employees may be feeling about it.
The second thing to do is to keep focusing on wellness efforts. The pandemic kick started a lot of wellness initiatives, and now is not the time to give up on any that aren’t working. In fact, double down with new approaches and tactics. Employees still want to see that their well being is a priority for companies. Many of the initiatives are new for companies and it will take some time and some learning to know what makes the most impact.
A third area to address burnout is education. Most managers and executives have not had training on how to identify burnout. According to the Gallup article, “Managers are your best solution for burnout when they take time to learn the causes of burnout and are open to changing how they manage their teams. Taking ownership of their role in preventing burnout shows they are fully committed to helping every employee excel. Managers who are intentional about reducing burnout and increasing engagement set the stage for a high-performance culture.”
If you’d like to learn more about creating a culture that minimizes the risk of employee burnout, let us know. Our executive recruiters can help you with hiring criteria for new leaders, as well as developing a culture that embraces employee needs, wellbeing and aligns them with your business.