Employee Burnout

  • Occupational Health
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss what employee burnout is, the causes of it, and how to prevent it from happening in your company.

As an employer, the performance of your employees is a key element in running a successful business. However, putting too much pressure on your staff to perform, or giving them unrealistic deadlines can negatively impact them. Ultimately, they could burnout.

Failure to manage employee burnout can have adverse effects on your company. This includes higher rates of absenteeism, high employee turnover, and an increase in mistakes being made. Which is why its importance should never be ignored.

In this guide we'll discuss what employee burnout is, the causes of it, and how to prevent it from happening in your company.

What is employee burnout?

Employee burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. It often occurs when a staff member feels overwhelmed - due to the amount of workplace stress they're experiencing in their role.

Workplace burnout can affect your employees' mental and physical health, leading to an increase in work-related stress, anxiety, and other health conditions. Burnout can consist of staff experiencing:

  • Feelings of exhaustion.
  • A growing mental distance from their job, or negative feelings towards their role or co-workers.
  • Reduced professional productivity and efficiency.

You should never underestimate the impact of employee burnout, as well as the effects it can have on your business as a whole.

What are the effects of employee burnout?

To manage and reduce employee burnout in your business, it's important you're aware of its effects and what to look out for. For example, it could increase tension at work and ultimately, conflict at work.

Let's explore other common signs of burnout in more detail:

Higher rates of absenteeism

Employee burnout can affect your employee's physical and mental health. If an employee is suffering from both of these issues, it could lead to increased absenteeism in the workplace. As they may not feel like coming to work due to the stress it brings them.

High levels of absences in your business can lead to:

If you notice an employee is absent from work regularly, this may be because they're feeling burnt out in their role.

Increased mistakes

When employees are experiencing burnout, there's a potential for more mistakes to occur. And more mistakes will lead to a lower overall quality of work amongst your employees.

There may be a time when you notice a high-performing employee starting to make more mistakes than usual. If this is the case, it could be a sign of workplace stress or employee burnout.

Decreased motivation

Burned-out employees struggle to feel motivated, or don't have the motivation to perform properly whilst at work. They may turn up to work late or struggle to complete tasks on time.

Having an employee who is demotivated could lead to increased irritability in other members of staff, especially if they're not completing tasks. This in turn could mean an increase in workplace conflict between employees.

Higher employee turnover

A common sign of employee burnout in your company is increased turnover. If you have some employees who feel stressed and burned out due to the actions of the business - they may seek new employment elsewhere.

High levels of employee turnover doesn't just mean a sense of uncertainty amongst your remaining staff, but might also mean you spend more money on hiring their replacements.

What are the causes of employee burnout?

To fully understand and manage burnout in your company correctly, it's vital you understand employee burnout causes. For example, poor workplace culture can increase the likelihood of burnout occurring.

Below are more causes of burnout that you need to be aware of:

Employees feeling undervalued

One of the main causes of burnout in a company is employees feeling undervalued for the hard work they complete for you, or their senior managers. It may seem like a small thing, but thanking someone for carrying out a task can go a long way.

If your employees believe they're making a difference in the ongoing success of your company, they’ll likely have higher job satisfaction. This could encourage them to stay with the business for longer.

Employees being overworked

Another major cause of burnout in companies is due to employees feeling overworked or struggling to manage their workload. This can stem from working long hours or overtime regularly, as well as being given unreasonable deadlines.

Overworked employees may also cut corners to finish tasks quicker and move on to the next item on their list. Doing so could mean the tasks are rushed and more mistakes are likely to occur.

Poor communication from managers

Another potential cause of burnout in a business can be poor communication from management. If employees believe their management team doesn't communicate with them clearly and regularly, they might feel stressed and frustrated – which could cause burnout.

Your employees should have regular catchups and one-to-ones with their manager. This is a great opportunity to relay any concerns they have regarding workload. As well as building a better rapport between both parties.

Problems in their personal life

As an employer, you must remember that employees have a life outside of their work. For example, one of your staff members might struggle with a problem in their personal life, such as someone in their family having a serious illness.

This could lead them to feeling stressed at work, and burnout. So, if you suspect one of your staff members doesn't seem like themselves - have a conversation with them. This gives them the chance to open up to you, and you can consider how to support them.

How to prevent employee burnout in your company

As an employer, it's vital you do all you can to overcome employee burnout in your business. It’s important that you implement ideas for your staff as a way of managing stress and avoiding burnout.

Below are ways you can reduce burnout in your company:

Identify the causes of employee burnout

One of the best ways to prevent burnout in your employees is to find the root cause. Whether this is due to job demands, or stress within their personal life, it's vital you identify them as early as possible.

Once identified, you can then work with all your employees to make changes to the company. Even small changes can make a huge difference to your staff’s attitudes towards work.

For example, you might want to implement early Friday finishes, or flexible working.

Make employee mental health a priority

As discussed previously, poor mental health can be a direct effect of employee burnout. So promoting the importance of your employee's wellbeing is a great way of preventing it in your company.

It's important you fully understand how your employees feel about their role, the company, and how their relationships are with their colleagues. All three of those aspects can impact their mental health negatively - which could in turn lead to burnout.

One way to support employee mental wellbeing is to provide ways they can manage or improve it. For example, you could offer free gym memberships to encourage them to take better care of their health. But ensure you speak with your employees first to find out which ideas are best.

Communicate with your employees

Another way to prevent employee burnout is to regularly communicate with your staff. This could be on a weekly or monthly basis - depending on the size of your business.

Work with them to understand the employee's job, deadlines, and other demands they may face whilst at work. This conversation should focus on their ongoing workload, how they're managing it, and their overall wellbeing.

Offering this support to employees will likely make them feel valued and supported in their work. This in turn will increase their confidence in you and help them reduce workplace stress.

Focus on increasing your employees' work-life balance

Another strong idea you can implement in preventing burnout in your employees is to focus on their work-life balance. This is the concept of having a healthy balance between work and personal life.

One important element of having a healthy work-life balance is managing work schedules effectively. Not managing this correctly can lead to a negative work-life balance, and an increase in burnout.

Work with your employees on their time management and prioritisation of workplace tasks. This can be as simple as making a list or even implementing task management software, as well as encouraging managers to distribute workload equally. These actions can go a long way in creating a healthy work-life balance and avoiding burnout.

Focus on career development

Focusing on the career development of your employees is another way of avoiding employee burnout in your company. You should work with staff to create individual career development plans to help them progress in your company.

Doing so may increase their engagement, job satisfaction, and encourage them to stay at your company for longer.

As well as creating development plans, you should provide regular training opportunities, this could be online or in-person workshops about specific topics.

Introduce flexible working

Another way you could prevent employee burnout in your company is to introduce flexible working. Flexible working can help your staff to take more control of their working lives, which'll help them feel empowered to do their best work.

Employees with families often find flexible working works well for them when it comes to childcare. For example, allowing them to carry out the school run in the mornings.

You may find that offering flexible working options to your employees could lead to higher levels of job satisfaction. This may not only increase the happiness of your employees, but could also encourage them to stay at your company for longer.

Make sure management sets an example

One way to further prevent employee burnout in your company is to ensure your management team and senior staff are setting an example. This can be done by setting clear expectations for them regarding how much work they should be doing. As well as making sure they don't work excessive hours.

Provide training to your senior managers regarding the signs of burnout, what to look for, and ways they can work with their employees to prevent burnout from occurring.

Never underestimate the importance of senior staff setting an example. If your employees see their management team working long hours, they may think this is the correct way to progress in the company. As a result, it could develop a culture of overworking.

Create a positive workplace culture

The culture you create in your work environment can be a major reason behind your employees feeling burned out. A toxic workplace culture can hurt your company as a whole, as it promotes gossip, conflict, and stressful situations.

So as an employer, it's important you create a positive place for your employees to work and flourish in their role. There are small things you can implement to create a more positive workplace culture.

These can range from enhanced rewards such as gift cards for high performers, or buying sweet treats for the break room once a month.

Introduce employee assistance programmes

Another idea you can implement in your business to prevent your employees from feeling burned out is to introduce employee assistance programmes (EAP).

An EAP is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of all your employees. They provide resources to help manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

For example, they can offer counselling programmes tailored to the individual employee and their needs.

Get expert advice on employee burnout from Peninsula

As an employer, how your staff performs plays a vital part in the success of your company. However, you should ensure you don’t ask too much of them, or pressure them with an overwhelming workload, as it can lead to employee burnout.

Employee burnout is a serious issue, and can lead to both physical and mental health issues. But it can also have negative impacts on your company, such as increased absenteeism, high employee turnover, and an overall poor quality of work.

Peninsula offers expert advice on employee burnout. Our teams provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.



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