How to prevent your people from feeling burned out

Impact of undervalued employees

It’s no surprise that your employees might be feeling mentally exhausted and strained, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ve probably been up against business challenges you thought you wouldn’t ever have to face – closing and reopening your business, introducing new ways of working and even considering making redundancies across your workforces, and that’s to name just a few.

But how have all of these changes affected your employees? According to a recent study, nearly a quarter (23%) of employees reported feeling burned out during work very often or always, while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes, so it’s important you know how to address and support your people when you think they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Spotting the symptoms

Your employees might inform you they’re feeling extremely fatigued or overwhelmed with their workload, but some might not until they realise they’re at the point of burn out. Before it gets to this stage, there are some signs that you should look out for.

If your usual engaged and positive employee suddenly seems less motivated and driven, or you start to hear more negativity from someone who was once the source of encouragement and inspiration, this could be a sign of them becoming burned out.

This negative feeling might become quite clear in their demeanour and will likely affect their productivity at work. Other signs of an employee feeling burned out include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and impatience
  • Frequent absences
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of isolation when working
  • Cynicism towards people and their job
  • Hopelessness or even anger
  • Lack of motivation and energy

Many of us experience at least one of the above in our working life at some point, but when an employee feels these symptoms more regularly, it’s a cause for concern. Some of the listed symptoms are associated with everyday stress, but it’s important you understand the difference between stress and feeling burned out.

We understand that as an employer, it might be difficult to spot these signs in an employee if they’re working from home and not physically in front of you. If you’re a client of ours already, then you’ll find some useful resources in our online platform, Atlas to help you manage and prevent employee burnout.

The difference between stress and burnout

An employee experiences stress because they’re feeling too many pressures that demand a lot from them mentally and physically. Burnout however is about not having enough energy to fulfil their job role, feeling empty, exhausted, and even past the point of caring.

For example, if a stressed employee has a deadline looming, they might feel anxious or frantic about whether they can meet that deadline, but someone who is burned out might not see it’s even possible, so they don’t bother at all.

Now even though both can have a huge impact on your employee’s wellbeing, you want to address any of the signs straight away before your worker sees their work-life as completely negative.

How to manage burnout

In the current climate, it’s impossible for some people to enjoy their usual coping strategies – like going to the gym, meeting up with friends, seeing family. That means you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to support all your employees.

The first step to supporting your people is having a conversation and just checking they’re ok. We know it can be difficult to talk to an employee about their mental health so our HR Consultant, Heather Bailey, has advised on the best ways to orchestrate those healthy conversations.
Some ways that you can prevent an employee from feeling burned out include:

  • Having regular catchups in place to check in on their wellbeing.
  • Reminding your employees that their contribution is valuable and contributes to your business goals.
  • Checking your people are having regular breaks away from their screens and encouraging them to switch off when they would normally leave work.
  • Assessing workloads so your people don’t pressure themselves to work past normal working hours.
  • Encouraging employees to take annual leave for a day or two just to enjoy a day away from work.
  • Persuading your people to turn their work notifications off when they would usually be out of the office.
  • Conducting a self-assessment with your remote workers to make sure their home environment is suitable for them to work in.

You should bear in mind that it can be extremely difficult for employees who are used to a bustling office environment to then have to adapt to a new work style. For more examples of how you can maintain the wellbeing of your workers while they work from home, you can check out our article here .

Questions about employee wellbeing?

If you’re already a client of ours and you’ve got questions about how to support employees who may be struggling with stress and even burnout, you can call our experts on our 24/7 advice line on 0345 844 4848.

If you’re not a Citation client but would like to chat through how we can support your business, just leave your details in the form opposite and one of our friendly advisors will be in touch. Alternatively, you can call our team today on 0345 844 1111.

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