The competitive environment in the workplace is affecting employees’ mental health. It’s a sad reality we can’t help but accept that only the fittest will survive at the end of the day.
Increasing workload, tight schedules, and lack of work-life balance are a few factors that cause them to burn out.
Most people confuse burnout with frustration, stress, demotivation, and other negative emotions. But, it’s more than that. It’s better to know how to prevent burnout in the workplace before anyone gets affected by it. You can take the necessary measures to keep your workforce motivated.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to prevent burnout in the workplace.
- What is burnout in the workplace?
- Are stress and burnout the same?
- The most common symptoms of burnout in the workplace
- Top common reasons for employee burnout
- How to prevent burnout in the workplace
- How to prevent burnout when working from home
- Bonus tip: Top 5 self-help books that can help prevent burnout
- Use WP ERP to implement good HR practices
What is burnout in the workplace?
Burnout is a syndrome resulting from continuous stress derived from the workplace that hasn’t been efficiently managed. The symptoms of burnout are related to physical, emotional, and psychological exhaustion.
The root cause of burnout in the workplace lies in long-lasting exposure to fatigue, frustration, and emotionally demanding situations.
The World Health Organization included ‘burnout’ as an occupational phenomenon in its 11th revision of the internal classifications of diseases. It is not labeled as a medical condition. According to WHO:
Burnout is one of the factors influencing health status or contact with health services – which includes reasons for which people contact health services but that are not classed as illnesses or health conditions.International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11)
Though it’s not a medical condition, it greatly impacts one’s life. Increasing workload, uncontrollable emotions, unfair treatment, and job insecurity haunt a burnt-out employee all day long even when he is not at the office. Burnout affects his productivity, mental peace, and personal life as well.
Are stress and burnout the same?
Stress is one of the reasons that cause burnout. They’re not the same. Persisting stress accompanied by other exhaustion gradually builds up burnout. The core difference between stress and burnout exists in their longevity.
You can get rid of stress by spending a good evening, having a great vacation, visiting family, or even watching a TV series. But, burnout doesn’t vanish that way. It is chronic in nature and the affected person needs special care, and attention to overcome the situation.
Since burnout is an occupational phenomenon, the employer also has a lot of things to prevent burnout in the workplace. We’ll discuss how to prevent burnout in the workplace in a later part of this article. Let’s know how you can identify if you or someone you know are going through burnout.
The most common symptoms of burnout in the workplace
You can easily detect the primary signs of burnout. Note that burnout is more severe than typical fatigue and frustration. You’ll get absorbed with hopelessness, disillusionment, and loss of motivation. Life loses its meaning at a certain point and nothing looks exciting anymore. An easily doable task feels like a heavy burden.
You can work on overcoming this appalling situation as soon as you can identify burnout. Here is the list of the most common symptoms of burnout to help you.
- Feeling extremely exhausted
- Having a feeling of emptiness for an extended period
- Losing control over temperament
- Failing repeatedly to deliver quality work
- Feeling that your work doesn’t get appreciated
- Blaming other people for your own failures or mistakes
- Thinking of leaving the workplace
- Carrying a negative attitude to the office
- Being unable to sleep properly
- Facing physical illness as headaches, backache, nausea, and more
- Remaining absent in the workplace for no reason
Note: You don’t have to match each of these symptoms to be sure about burnout. You may be suffering from burnout and show only a few signs from the above list or you may even show symptoms missing on this list.
Top common reasons for employee burnout
The reasons for burnout vary from man to man. Still, there are similarities in most cases. Remember that, sometimes your personality traits cause burnout instead of other external factors. We’ve listed the most common reasons for burnout in the workplace here.
1. Fear of deprivation of equal employment opportunities
Nepotism, favoritism, and unfair treatments are a few injustices that affect the morale of an employee. You’ll surely feel demotivated if someone less deserving than you get more benefits from the company.
2. Unattainable goals and excessive workload
Some business managers fix targets that are almost impossible to reach. As a result, you will feel tremendous pressure and have to work on personal time, hampering your work-life balance.
3. Role conflicts and unclear job responsibilities
Well-defined job responsibilities help employees stay focused on their duties and keep a track of their tasks. You may feel frustrated if you have to do something which is not your liability.
4. Communication gap with managers
Lack of communication between managers and their subordinates results in complete chaos. If you do something based on unclear instructions, that will surely lack quality and eventually cause disappointment.
5. Unsupportive and bossy managers
Human beings don’t like to get orders. You may feel exhausted in the workplace if your managers always dominate you without trying to understand your needs and difficulties.
6. Unreasonable deadlines
Some managers assign tasks with impractical deadlines. It is normal for you to fail to meet deadlines if the amount of tasks is overwhelming for a given time.
7. Lack of breaks and vacations
Monotonous work without a break causes fatigue and stress. You need refreshments and recreation to stay productive, creative, and energetic. Otherwise, mental peace becomes susceptible to stress and burnout.
8. Broken promises from the management
Every employee has a target and strives for a better position in their career. Companies also promise a variety of compensation packages for them. You are more likely to feel dejected if you don’t get your desired promotion, increment, or role as promised by the employer.
9. The difference in values
Every individual lives by a code of behavior when it comes to religion, culture, society, philosophy, and other forms of beliefs. If you see your employers aren’t showing respect for your values, you may find it hard to work for them with passion.
10. Disturbing family life
Family is the place where we find solace after a bad day at the office. But, you will become depressed if you have a family with a toxic environment.
11. Pessimist mentality
Pessimist people are always cynical about everything. They find negativity in positive situations. If you have such attributes, you’re more likely to suffer from burnout in the long run.
12. Too much self-obsession
Almost all of us are obsessed with ourselves. It becomes harmful if this self-centric mindset crosses the limit. This excessive level of self-obsession makes you a narcissist who wants attention and importance all the time. In reality, you won’t get that level of attention and eventually become frustrated.
How to prevent burnout in the workplace
As an employer, you need to implement effective strategies to prevent burnout. Otherwise, you may lose valuable human resources.
According to Gallup, Inc., 63% of employees who experience burnout tend to take a sick leave and are 2.6x more likely to seek a new job.
At the same time, you also have a few measures to take to recover from burnout if you ever suffer from it. The following list has everything you need to know both as an employer and employee to prevent burnout in the workplace.
1. Make your mental peace a top priority
Good sleep habits, nutritious food, social interaction, journaling, enjoying nature, family time, etc. promote the mental health of each individual. No matter how hard it gets in the workplace, prioritize your self-care over everything else. Find out what makes you happy and recharge yourself, then make time for that activity.
2. Work on your perspective
It’s way easier to change yourself than to change other external factors. Try to build a positive mindset avoiding cynicism and other forms of negative energy. Yes, it’s difficult to shift perspective overnight. But, you can focus on achieving an optimistic approach to life. You’ll reach there gradually.
3. Increase social interaction
Humans are social beings by nature. You can live alone but that may lead to an unstable mental condition. So, interact with other people including your neighbors, relatives, colleagues, friends, peers, and other online communities. A quality hangout during the weekend can heal all the wounds you’ve got during the weekdays.
4. Keep your employees well-informed
Inform your employees properly about their role within the organization. Give them a purpose to serve. It will motivate your employers to get engaged more in the workplace if they know that their work matters. Align their duties and responsibilities with the company’s business goals. This is a strategic human resource approach to help employees work passionately.
5. Assess your employee’s feedback
Every individual wants to get heard. Let your employees say what they think about a specific matter that falls under their responsibilities. Involve them in the decision-making process. Asses their feedback unbiasedly and implement their ideas if that helps the business in any way.
6. Assign reasonable workloads
Every task needs time to get done. Suppose, you need 24 hours to write a blog post. It would be unreasonable to assign you to write three blog posts a week. There’s an industry-standard time for each type of task. And, every employee has a different level of efficiency. You should assign doable tasks and fix reasonable deadlines for the employees.
7. Offer flexibility whenever possible
The COVID-19 outbreak has made remote and hybrid work cultures popular worldwide. People want freedom of choosing work-model nowadays. Hybrid, fully remote, and in-house are the major three work models. You should allow employees to choose any of these as long as they remain productive and your business doesn’t get hampered.
In the Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of respondents said that flexible working hours helped them achieve more productivity, and 30% of those surveyed said that less or no time commuting allowed them to be more productive.
Flexible working time and generous leave policy are two major things that affect employees’ mental health. Employers should try their best to offer flexibility and eliminate all unnecessary rules to keep the work environment healthy.
8. Offer paid time off
PTO aka Paid Time Off refers to a pool of leaves during bankable hours. Employees won’t face any monetary loss if they take paid leaves. PTO covers all types of leaves including casual, sick, annual, and more. Paid time off is an integrated part of modern human resource management.
9. Provide necessary and functional tools
Up-to-date and functional gadgets and gears are very important in the workplace. When an employee gets top-notch devices to complete his tasks, he feels motivated and tries to deliver his best.
Besides, slow, outdated, and old-fashioned tools affect the productivity of an employee which eventually results in additional stress. So, provide functional and quality equipment/ software for your employees.
10. Treat your employees fairly
This should remain at the core of human resource management. Lack of performance appraisal is one of the biggest reasons companies face a high turnover. Evaluate your employees based on their performance, cultural agility, and personality.
Don’t let favoritism, nepotism, and other biases get the better of you. Recognize your employee’s efforts and success with exposure, awards, promotions, bonuses, and increments when they deserve them.
11. Train your managers and HR people
A good manager motivates all his subordinates to keep working with enthusiasm. Employees are less likely to disengage themselves from the workplace if they have a supportive manager. There’s a common saying:
People leave managers not companies.
You should train your managers to become a leader instead of becoming a boss. A boss directs his employees in an authoritative manner and controls them. On the other hand, a leader inspires, supports, and encourages his employees to improve their skills and perform well to achieve the business goal.
Since burnout in the workplace is largely related to HR professionals, they also should be trained on how to evaluate employee performance. A supportive team lead and an efficient HR department combinedly can prevent burnout in the workplace to a great extent.
How to prevent burnout when working from home
Working from home (WFH) comes with a lot of positives but it also has a few factors to consider. Yes, you can save commuting time, take your children to school, and share more memories with your friends and family. But, WFH is often associated with long working hours.
Most people who work from home have the flexibility to work all day long and make it eight hours on their terms. It may create a sense that you never leave work. There remains no distinguished line between working time and free time. This can also cause you to suffer from burnout when working from home.
Remind yourself that you’re working even if from home. It’s better to complete your tasks within a specific period rather than working the whole day. You can act on the following list to prevent burnout.
- Wear something different than your usual dress when working.
- Keep your workstation isolated from other rooms.
- Take virtual coffee breaks to chat with family and friends, or have a walk.
- Try to meet your colleagues once in a while to improve bonds.
- Maintain asynchronous communication with everyone at work.
Other than these suggested tips, you can find out your own ways to keep yourself motivated to work from home.
Bonus tip: Top 5 self-help books that can help prevent burnout
We hope you can work and reflect on the tips we’ve shared in this article. These tips are enough to walk you out of a burnout situation. But, you can take help from self-help books If you want to dive deeper into this topic.
Here’s a list of the top five books you should read to improve your mindset and avoid burnout in every aspect of your life.
- “The Weariness of the Self” by Alain Ehrenberg
- “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear
- “Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving” by Celeste Headlee
- “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily Nagoski & Amelia Nagoski DMA
- “Can’t Even: How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation” by Anne Helen Petersen
Chances are high that you’ll become a completely different person with a positive approach to life after reading these books.
Use WP ERP to implement good HR practices
WP ERP comes with an excellent HR module that can help HR managers and team leads manage employees and evaluate employee performance accurately. It has a useful reporting system and an efficient leave management system to track what employees are doing.
You can prevent burnout in the workplace by using a data-driven tool like WP ERP. Preparing performance reports manually comes with the chance of human error. WP ERP minimizes errors and helps managers treat their subordinates fairly. You can prevent burnout in the workplace by implementing good HR practices along with using effective HR tools.