According to Human Resource Executive's analysis of recent surveys, 44% of employees say they're experiencing more burnout than they were last year — a significant rise from the 34% figure reported in a 2020 poll.
However, Harvard Business Review stated "burnout is about your workplace, not your people" — which means employees often need help combating this issue. To give them the right support, it's your responsibility to understand what causes burnout and how to address it.
The meaning of burnout
Many companies believe burnout can't reflect workplace shortcomings because it impacts employees differently. The truth, however, is that an uncomfortable or unsupportive work environment may impact staff in different ways, and while some show obvious signs of burnout, others may handle overwork or frustration more subtly.
So what is the meaning of burnout? As HR Executive explained, it may be a matter of mental health. While many employees adapt to remote or hybrid work environments, there is mounting pressure to answer emails or complete tasks during lunch breaks or vacation days, contributing to stress and feelings of overwork. When these feelings are attributed to a home office or mobile device, staff may not be able to avoid them — which can lead to responses like reduced productivity, exhaustion, cynicism and more.
The solution to the burnout problem, it seems, is to protect employees' mental health.
4 ways to keep employees motivated
To combat burnout and keep your workers happy, healthy and mentally and emotionally safe, try implementing these four tips in your office or digital workspace.
1) Have open conversations
When employees are feeling burned out, they may be hesitant to mention their struggles to co-workers or managers. Concealing these issues is appealing because it limits the risk of being viewed as weak or incapable of performing vital tasks — so your job is to dismantle the stigma surrounding open communication. Encourage workers to come to you with concerns and offer your support as a resource for navigating difficult situations.
2) Consider more flexibility
Whether your workforce is currently remote, in-person or hybrid, there are plenty of opportunities to add flexibility to your schedules. For example, you could give employees the freedom to work earlier or later than their traditional shifts, letting them schedule their professional responsibilities around their personal lives to a certain extent.
3) Encourage breaks
Taking breaks is a good way for workers to refresh their minds and refocus their energy. However, if your culture encourages constant productivity, your teams may be hesitant to take even a few minutes to themselves. To solve this problem, be sure to clarify that rest is a necessity in your organization, whether in the form of short breaks or fully unplugged vacation days.
4) Be realistic
Burnout isn't a new element of the work world, nor is it possible to completely eliminate in a day. Be realistic when setting expectations — and if your staff doesn't respond immediately to your improvements or efforts, keep trying different tactics to protect their mental well-being.
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