Burnout. Many of us have been there – feeling exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, and unmotivated at work because of work.
While many of us can relate to feelings of burnout, there are probably very few of us who have actually communicated how we’re actually being affected. We want to show that we have a good work ethic; we don’t want to disappoint others; we’re worried that speaking up might jeopardize our jobs.
So, we grit our teeth through burnout – ultimately to the detriment of our work, both in the short- and long-term.
Burnout is incredibly common. According to a Gallup poll, 23% of employees report feeling burned out more often than not. And an additional 44% report feeling burnout on occasion.
But too often, burnout goes unacknowledged in the workplace. The results vary but just a few of the negative impacts might include:
- Increased turnover – making employees 2.6 times more likely to leave their employer.
- A negative impact on your company culture.
- And a dangerous physical toll on team members, making them 23% more likely to go to the ER.
The bottom line is that burnout can seriously hurt your employees…and your business. In this article, we’ll look at what burnout is, and more importantly, how to identify, measure, and prevent it on your team.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.”
While burnout is not defined as a medical condition, it is a predictor of serious health conditions according to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. These include:
- Coronary heart disease
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Gastrointestinal pain
- Hospitalization due to cardiovascular problems
Here’s the good news: You can take action long before burnout takes its toll on your employees (or you). There are specific tools and strategies to identify, measure, and prevent burnout…helping your whole team to stay healthy and thrive, even through busy seasons of work.
While burnout may seem easy to identify, it doesn’t always manifest so clearly. Some of your employees may show their stress and exhaustion; others will know how to hide what they’re feeling in order to get the job done.
In any case, you’ll have to be strategic in order to effectively identify burnout on your team, relying on more than just your basic intuition as a leader.
Here are two ways to spot burnout “on the horizon.”
Gathering anonymous feedback from your employees on how they’re feeling at work may be your most powerful source of “burnout intel.” Why? Because it gives your employees a safe opportunity to voice their concerns and let you know how they’re really doing without feeling like they’re complaining.
Nailted is a software platform you can use to send anonymous surveys to your employees, giving them a simple, convenient way to share feedback with you. You can use Nailted to ask targeted questions about their at-work satisfaction and workload, or you can gather quantifiable information such as in an eNPS survey (which we’ll learn about soon).
Look for the signs.
Knowing the signs of burnout is critical. Depending on the size of your team and your interaction with employees, you may be able to spot these signs during team meetings, one-on-one interactions, or even in email chains.
Here are a few signs of burnout, according to Mayo Clinic:
- One or more team members seem to be more critical and cynical than usual.
- One or more team members are inconsistently productive, sometimes getting plenty of work done – other times, stalling on the job.
- One or more team members seem to be unsatisfied even with their successes and accomplishments.
- One or more team members are irritable and argumentative with other team members.
In any case, you’ll want to be on the watch for these signs…and ready to address them to prevent further burnout.
Believe it or not, you can also measure burnout. Quantifying workplace distress gives you an easy strategy to track potential signs of burnout over time – and incentives to act quickly to resolve them.
Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a metric that measures employee satisfaction and loyalty. Low eNPS scores (6 or below) indicate that your team members may be headed toward burnout. To learn more about measuring eNPS with Nailted, read our article on How eNPS Can Be Used to Leverage Employer Branding.
Whether you choose to measure eNPS or a more basic employee satisfaction score (both measurable on Nailted), you’ll want to keep tracking scores over time. Identifying dips and increases in score gives you powerful insight into how external factors at your business might be impacting burnout on your team.
Finally, the best strategy for eliminating burnout on your team is to prevent it from ever happening. Good prevention should be a combination of education and resources, as well as employee benefits and perks.
Offer health & wellness perks.
If you’re able, offer perks that promote health and wellness (such as discounted gym memberships, free massages, counseling, healthy food, etc.).
Providing your team members with practical ways to stay on top of their mental and physical health helps them to thrive and communicates that you value work-life balance.
Don’t assume that your team members know they’re burned out. Many of us tend to work hard until we crash, and then can’t figure out why we’re experiencing a meltdown in the office bathroom.
That being said, education is the key to prevent this. Provide in-office or online training on burnout, equipping your employees with practical tools and strategies to help them cope with stress and care for their own health.
A Final Note on Team Wellness
Managing a team is tricky. You want to make progress, produce plenty of quality work, and meet short-term and long-term goals. But you don’t want to drive your team members into the ground on the way up. While some of your employees may thrive in a high-pressure environment, others may get exhausted. The challenge is knowing how to create a balanced, healthy work culture that keeps everyone productive and well.
Team wellness often begins with healthy company culture, and creating a culture that values mental health can ultimately pay off in the form of happier, more loyal employees. When your team is well, your business can grow at a healthy, sustainable pace. To learn more about how to achieve a positive, productive work culture through employee feedback, team recognition, and more, click here.