Have you ever felt burnt out by work? If so, then you’re not alone.
More and more people are now experiencing workplace burnout, suffering side effects that range from feelings of exhaustion and energy depletion to negativity and reduced efficiency.
Recent research suggests that as many as three quarters (75%) of professionals in North America have experienced burnout, and the problem is only getting worse. Indeed 40% of those questioned admitted to only feeling burnt out in the wake of the global pandemic, with longer working hours and a lack of support being blamed as the key drivers for this worrying trend.
It’s estimated that burnout costs an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending, but the true costs to businesses could be far greater. Low productivity, high turnover, absenteeism and job dissatisfaction - these are just some of the ways in which employee burnout can impact your organization.
So what can companies do to help combat burnout? From building a culture of wellness to harnessing the power of employee appreciation programs, join us as we look at what you can do to safeguard your team.
The first thing businesses need to understand is that burnout is not a personnel or an HR problem, it’s something that impacts your entire organization. That means that the only way to tackle the root of the issue is with an organization-wide approach.
Creating a healthy culture that puts wellbeing at the centre of your employees’ lives is essential. The key word here is culture. We’re seeing more and more companies offering perks, with everything from gym memberships to mental health resources made available to help improve the wellbeing of their teams. Now, perks are great but they only address the symptoms of the problems your employees are facing, rather than the root cause. It’s like putting a bandaid on a broken leg, it may provide some temporary respite but it’s not going to fix the underlying issue.
That’s where culture comes in. From policies to meetings to work / life balance - engraining wellbeing into your culture means that every aspect of your organization will benefit, helping to reduce both burnout and the causes of burnout. As well, reports show a $1.47 return on investment for every dollar spent on corporate wellness initiatives. So it's a win-win!
One of the simplest things that you can do to help reduce employee burnout is to create awareness. Giving your leaders the tools to help recognize the warning signs within their teams can help to stop issues before they become too problematic. That awareness can also help your leaders understand when they are at risk of burnout themselves, because it’s not always apparent, and often when it does become apparent, it’s too late to act.
So what are the key signs to look out for? Things like shortened attention spans and an overall decrease in engagement are often some of the first indicators that your employees might be suffering. Behavioural patterns such as irritability or stress, alongside workplace absence and increased sickness rates should also be red flags.
Alongside looking out for the signs of burnout, you should also proactively engage your employees in conversation about their wellbeing. Regular meetings are a great way to check in with your employees and identify anyone who might be struggling. Questions like “How are you feeling?” and “How happy are you on a scale of 1 to 10?” can help to kickstart conversations about mental wellbeing and encourage your employees to open up about any struggles they might be having. The key is to ask the questions on a regular basis so that any negative responses can serve as a kind of early-warning system to potential burnout.
One of the best ways to keep burnout at bay is to make sure that your employees feel engaged and appreciated. Happiness is the number 1 antidote to stress and mental fatigue. In fact, research shows that happiness reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and improves sleep - all of which are crucial to cultivating good mental health.
So when it comes to combatting workplace burnout one of the main questions you should be asking yourself is “What makes my people happy?” That’s where employee appreciation comes in. Recognition is a basic human need, one which our brains are hardwired to respond to. We’ve previously written about the biology of recognition, but the bottom line for businesses is that employee appreciation and perks programs result in higher levels of motivation, engagement and productivity, lower staff turnover, and an increased ability to retain and attract top talent.
That’s a whole lot of positives but crucially recognition can also help you to combat many of the negatives that can lead to burnout, including stress. Implementing a dedicated employee appreciation program creates a dedicated platform to publicly reward and recognize your team. This kind of employee appreciation helps to create a strong sense of belonging and fulfilment among your people, helping them to see the value of their work and their contribution to the organization as a whole.
So how effective is it? Well, one survey by Harvard found that a strong sense of belonging can help to reduce absenteeism by up to 75%. That’s a striking statistic. And while an employee appreciation program that makes your people feel rewarded and recognized isn’t likely to prevent your employees from catching the flu, it can help to offset feelings of isolation and stress that are the primary causes of burnout.
If you’d like to find out more about how wellness 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 Nick Patel, CEO and Founder of employee wellness platform Wellable, to discuss the mechanics of workplace stress and the practical tips organizations can take to support their employees.