5 ways to help employees avoid burnout

5 ways to help employees avoid burnout

Work-related stress is common and often considered a normal part of life, but it can so easily get to extreme levels and lead to burnout, especially when coupled with external pressures and challenges.

As you would expect, cases of burnout typically rise when there are national crises. In 2020, a global survey of over 7,000 people found that almost 93% were experiencing varying degrees of burnout. This would’ve largely been down to the effects of Covid.

With the UK currently facing a cost of living crisis, burnout is likely to become even more prevalent as people deal with managing their finances alongside the everyday demands of work and life.

The implications of burnout are serious. People that experience it are emotionally drained, mentally exhausted and can even experience long-term mental health issues such as clinical depression and anxiety.

In businesses, burnout amongst employees can negatively impact culture, performance, engagement and is often indicative of a much bigger problem that needs addressing. Burnout doesn’t go away by itself, so it’s critical for business leaders and HR professionals to take it seriously and de-stigmatise it.

How to help your team avoid burnout

  1. Understand the signs

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It gradually builds over time and manifests in different ways depending on the person so it’s therefore crucial that your business’ senior team are familiar with the typical signs so they can step in and provide support as early as possible.

Speaking to The Guardian, psychologist Professor Laurie Santos explains that there are three key signs of burnout:

  1. Emotional exhaustion
    Feeling tired all the time and like you have no energy left in the tank.
  2. De-personalisation
    Feeling frustrated and agitated with those around you.
  3. Personal ineffectiveness
    Feeling like you’re not doing a good job or operating to the best of your ability.

To take a proactive approach to burnout in the workplace, you need to learn these signs, look out for them in your colleagues, and communicate with them if you feel that they might be at risk.

  1. Educate and equip your managers

Beyond knowing the warning signs, managers also need to be equipped with the right tools to be able to provide support to their team members if they’re feeling stressed or dealing with any personal challenges that could lead to burnout.

Part of this involves having a good understanding of what team members are currently dealing with and the emotional awareness to act accordingly. Knowing the workload and professional challenges of individuals is important, but it’s also useful for managers to have an insight into the demands of people’s personal lives. This gives managers a view of the bigger picture and the ability to not only be mindful of what their teammates are dealing with but actively prevent them from getting overloaded.

Alongside this, being equipped with resources, information and even access to professional support services means that managers can give their team the right information as and when they need it.

  1. Encourage your employees to disconnect from work

Working long hours, skipping lunch and answering emails on weekends are behaviours that have, for a long time, epitomised dedication, hard work and engagement. While it might be true of some people, this view perpetuates the troubling idea that people shouldn’t have a good work-life balance. Many people feel that work should always take priority and even invade their personal lives when it’s not healthy, sustainable or conducive to long-term engagement.

Taking time away from work is absolutely essential for people to avoid burnout. So, make sure your team know that! Encourage them to take regular breaks and disconnect from work at the end of each day – whether they work remotely or on-site. Having a lunch break too – whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour – gives individuals the chance to refresh and re-focus for the afternoon ahead.

Taking extended breaks from work are beneficial too, so make sure your team use their holiday allowance and, where possible, spread it out throughout the year so they don’t have extended periods without a break. Your business’ culture plays a huge part here, so it’s important to make sure that your senior colleagues are leading by example and showing others that taking time off is more than ok – it’s encouraged.

  1. Provide relevant wellbeing support

A useful method of avoiding burnout is to learn different ways to manage stress. You can help your employees build their mental resilience and reduce their stress levels by providing wellbeing support. Mental health support apps are valuable tools that give your employees the opportunity to learn strategies to manage different areas of their mental health from stress to anxiety. Whenever they need to, they can tap into the content and access useful advice.

Other elements of wellbeing such as physical and financial wellbeing also feed into people’s stress levels, so it’s valuable to take a holistic approach and include a wide range of resources, services and tools so individuals can get help in key areas of their lives.

For instance, offering shopping discounts to your team is a valuable and relevant way to make their lives a bit easier amidst the cost of living crisis. It’s a form of financial wellbeing support that helps people make their money go further and do things they love for less, thereby helping to reduce stress levels.

  1. Optimise your culture and working environment

You can’t control what’s going on in the world and the external factors that contribute to your team’s stress levels, but you can control the environment and conditions they work in. People are inherently unique. We have different desires, emotions and characteristics and now, many more businesses are embracing this fact and building cultures and working environments that help people thrive without compromising their mental health.

Take this into account when looking at your culture. How do you want your team to feel when they finish work each day? Are they in an environment where they can thrive? You can’t build a new culture overnight, but you can certainly make changes to how you operate so that your people feel supported, fulfilled and engaged while ultimately contributing to your business’ strategic vision.

If you’d like to find out how we can help your people thrive, get in touch.

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