The Costs and Cures for Employee Burnout

businessmen running frantically to illustrate Employee Burnout

Employee Burnout
Sometimes you just can’t run fast enough to keep up with the pace of the work.  We call it employee burnout when the stress of your job seems overwhelming, and you just want to give up.  You’re not at all alone.

Job pressure and work overload combine to become the number one cause of stress in the U.S.

The Costs
According to Harvard research, it is estimated that the cost to American businesses of employee burnout is up to $190 billion per year – not to mention the toll it takes on individuals and their families in terms of their physical and psychological wellbeing.  For anyone charged with maintaining a high level of employee engagement, reducing the cost of too much stress at work should be a high priority.

The good news is that there are some proven remedies.

A Useful Tool
The first step is to determine how pervasive employee burnout is – who it is affecting and how broadly across the workforce.  The best way to assess the size of the issue is to set up a system of tracking.  Employees need to find out where, in fact, they are spending their time.  Only then can they begin to prioritize their activities to maximize their productivity.

The Cure
It will likely become quickly clear that most of those who suffer from burnout do not know how to manage their time well, struggle to effectively prioritize projects and have difficulty saying no.  Too many people do not have the skill to prioritize the urgent and important versus the non-urgent and not important in terms of implications that matter most to their key stakeholders.

Most employees are besieged by an overload of requests and distractions—texts, emails, unnecessary meetings and overly chatty office neighbors.  But the employees suffering from burnout seem unable to filter through the barrage of noise in order to deal with only those that matter most.  They need to learn how to focus their attention on what is most critical to their job performance so they can gain a sense of control over their workflow.

The Benefit
Once your employees begin to understand how they are actually spending their work time, they become more thoughtful about the way they spend it.  Their greater focus and attention is an immediate benefit.  For the longer term gain, you need to analyze the time tracking data and adjust behaviors to improve efficiency.

The Bottom Line

  • Individual – On an individual level, the way to mitigate employee burnout is to understand what is causing the stress and teach better time management skills so employees can leverage their time at work more effectively.
  • Strategic – At the strategic level, the way to reduce employee burnout is to ensure that strategic priorities are clear enough for employees to determine priorities and implications.
  • Cultural – At the cultural level, the way to diminish employee burnout is to create an environment and support processes that enable employees to ask clarifying questions and get help from their bosses to prioritize efforts across projects, programs and portfolios.

If you want to learn more research-backed ways to improve employee engagement, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Engagement

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