Creativity and innovation are the holy grail employers are constantly chasing. Companies are constantly devising new strategies to stimulate their workforce into pushing the envelope and coming up with the best solutions and the brightest ideas.
However, as the old adage goes, the candle that burns twice as bright burns out twice as fast. Employee burnout is a near-constant threat in a business climate that’s growing more competitive with each passing day. While employers want to get the best results from their staff, they also want to ensure that their employees are balancing performance with looking after themselves. Here are some things to keep in mind to help keep the spark of your workforce from burning out.
The cost of burnout
More than a buzzword or industry jargon, burnout isn’t something that employers should overlook. In addition to negatively impacting employees on an individual level, it can have consequences for the business as a whole as well. One of the biggest and most severe direct consequences of burnout is a higher rate of employee turnover. If left unchecked, this can become a serious problem. According to TribLive, replacing an employee who makes up to $75,000 a year can cost companies more than 20 percent of the annual salary. Even among employees who don’t leave their position, burnout can manifest in reduced productivity and absenteeism. According to the Chicago Tribune, more than 50 percent of employees surveyed reported that they had missed at least two days of work in the previous year due to stress.
Spotting, managing and preventing burnout
If managers want to keep their staff not just healthy and happy, but thriving and productive as well, managing burnout needs to become a priority. Keep an eye out for signs that a worker may be wearing down – increased absenteeism or incidents of illness, a change in behavior or a decrease in productivity can all be signs that an employee may be feeling the pressure. If you think that some of your staff are in danger of burning out, here are ways to alleviate the stress.
Slow down on the information superhighway
Employees today process more data and information than ever before. Between emails, conference calls and other tasks that must be juggled, employee resolve – not to mention the quality of work – may slip through the cracks. TribLive reported that U.S. businesses lose around $1 trillion a year from this type of multitasking.
You want your employees to work hard, but it’s important to recognize there is a limit. Smartphones and the cloud make it easier than ever to work from home, a child’s soccer game or virtually anywhere else, which is great for productivity but means that staff can never disconnect. Emphasize the importance of separating work time from personal time so your employees don’t feel like they’re constantly on the clock.
Emphasize job security
Many businesses faced hard times during the recession of 2008, requiring cutbacks and layoffs. One symptom of this, TribLive noted, was that those who remained started working even harder for fear of losing their jobs, even while sick. There’s a big difference between dedication and overworking, however, and employees who push themselves too far for fear of getting the ax aren’t doing your company any favors. Encourage your staff to maintain a positive work-life balance and to take care of their physical and emotional health, even if it means staying home when they get sick.
Technology is the link that ties employees to their desks even when they’re not at the office. While flexibility afforded by telecommuting is undoubtedly positive, it’s easy to fall into the trap of constantly checking emails or voice messages. Consider the idea of “blackout times,” when employees should have their devices switched off. They wont’ have to worry about following up with emails and you wont’ have to worry about an over-stressed workforce.