In the current climate, where the battle for talent is raging, businesses are understandably focusing on employee happiness. But while your investment in this area will ultimately pay dividends, you cannot afford to lose sight of employee wellness - especially at a time when burnout is taking a growing toll on both individuals and their employers.
For those who suffer from it, burnout can cause fatigue, insomnia, sadness, anger and irritability. It can even lead to further health issues ranging from alcohol abuse to heart disease.
For employers, the impact of burnout on your people can be tough to take. But it can also have a direct impact on your bottom line. Low productivity, high turnover, absenteeism and decreasing performance all add up. In fact, it’s estimated that burnout costs businesses as much as $322 billion every year.
That’s bad news for any employer. But here’s the kicker - the problem is only getting worse. Recent research suggests that burnout is on the rise with as many as three-quarters (75%) of professionals in North America experiencing it.
No doubt the impact of COVID-19 and its associated lockdowns have made things worse. But it seems that new employment models are also taking their toll on employee happiness. One study points the finger at remote working, with evidence that 69% of employees have experienced some form of burnout while working from home.
So as an employer, what can you do to safeguard your people’s wellbeing and minimize burnout? Here are four strategies to help boost employee happiness and reduce the risk of burnout.
The first, and perhaps most important, step you should take to tackle burnout is to make it front of mind. Engaging your employees in conversations about their wellbeing can help to raise the alarm if someone is struggling. Simply asking someone how they are feeling is often enough to get them to open up about anything they may be struggling with. The key is to ask these questions on a regular basis so that any negative responses can serve as a kind of early-warning system to potential burnout.
As well as focusing on your employees you should also give your leaders the tools they need to monitor for signs of burnout within their teams. Being able to identify early warning signs (like shortened attention spans, increased absenteeism, and negativity) can help to flag burnout before it becomes a bigger issue.
From Teams to Slack, via Zoom meetings, virtual happy hours and time management programs - since our shift to more remote working we’ve been inundated with new tools and technologies to help us collaborate. Collaboration is incredibly beneficial, but as with every aspect of life, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
Take meetings for example. More than 11 million of them happen in North America every day, but staggeringly, a third of them are unproductive. That’s a huge waste of your employees’ time, but it’s also having a negative impact on their wellbeing.
Why? Because excessive meetings are one of the #1 causes of employee frustration. They also disrupt your people’s focus, distracting them from important work and adding to an already stressful workload.
It’s a big problem with a straightforward solution - have fewer meetings. You’d be amazed at how many unnecessary interactions you can cut out with a simple spring clean of your calendars. If you absolutely can’t cut anything from your peoples’ calendars, then another good strategy is to improve your agendas so that your meetings are shorter and more productive.
One of the biggest issues when it comes to remote working is that the boundaries between work and home life have become blurred. Your employees are no longer finishing work at 5pm and heading home to spend time with their families. Instead, their free time is repeatedly punctuated by notifications, messages and emails. Given the negative impact that this always-on culture can have on our wellbeing, it’s no wonder that some countries have already banned out-of-hours emails.
So, instead of expecting employees to be “on” at all times, set firm boundaries that stop after-hours contact unless it’s truly an emergency. This will have an immediate impact on stress levels and help to reduce the kind of pressures that are a significant cause of burnout.
One of the top drivers of burnout (31%) is a lack of support and recognition from a company’s leadership team. So if you’re looking to reduce employee burnout in your organization, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is “How can I make my people feel more engaged?”
That’s where employee appreciation comes in. Recognition is a basic human need, one which our brains are hardwired to respond to. Experts have found that employee rewards and recognition helps to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve sleep - all of which are crucial to battling burnout.
Put simply, an effective employee recognition and rewards program (like those built on Bucketlist’s industry-leading platform) can help your people to feel more connected, helping to offset the feelings of isolation and stress that are a primary cause of burnout in a remote setting.
If you’d like to find out more about how employee rewards and recognition can help to combat workplace burnout check out our recent webinar. In our wide-ranging discussion, Bucketlist’s Jason Lindstrom was joined by Shauna Moran, Founder & Managing Director of Operate Remote, to discuss the impact of employee burnout.