In America’s work-obsessed culture, employee burnout is often considered par for the course. Eating over our desks at lunch, staying late into the evening, and forgoing vacations for fear of getting hopelessly behind with work—it all takes a toll.
In fact, a recent Gallup study reveals that roughly two-thirds of full-time workers report feeling burned out on the job. Employees dealing with burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times more likely to be actively seeking a different job.
Fortunately, there are methods for dealing with this phenomenon. In this article, we’ll explore five proven strategies for preventing burnout in the workplace, as well as best practices you can use to maintain growth, increase productivity, and meet changing employee needs.
1. Actively visualize your company's projects
Whether you run a small business or oversee a multinational organization, without any insight into how your teams collaborate or which individuals are assigned to specific tasks, bottlenecks are inevitable. This is why visibility into employee workload is a must.
In the midst of a time-sensitive or mission-critical project, relying on your email threads, personal notes, and whiteboard drawings is often not enough.
For the sake of clarity and accountability, visualize your company’s projects by creating a process flowchart. In this case, using a swimlane diagram is quite effective. Using the metaphor of horizontal lanes in a swimming pool, this is how it works:
- Each employee, group, or department is assigned to their swimlane.
- Each lane has process steps to show connections, communication, or handoffs.
- Process waste, redundancies, and efficiencies are highlighted.
The swimlane diagram also provides a straightforward visual representation of the many responsibilities tied to a process—helping each employee to better understand the roles they play, what they’re accountable for, and where their tasks fit in the project timeline.
To add greater value to your process flowchart, link any relevant work documents within your project timeline. Now team members can track tasks and assignments all from one location.
When everyone is able to quickly visualize and clearly understand their responsibilities within the overall process, work soon seems less burdensome and overwhelming. All of which leads to a positive work environment.
Find out how you can take your business to the next level when you document your as-is processes.
2. Strive to compensate your employees fairly
When it comes to preventing burnout, fair and competitive employee compensation is a powerful deterrent. When you manage people, it’s critical to know if your organization is offering a level of compensation that attracts new talent and retains current employees.
Retaining employees is much more cost-effective than constantly recruiting new team members. For instance, one SHRM study suggests that the cost to replace a salaried employee averages between 6 to 9 months of salary to cover recruiting and training expenses. For high-earners and employees in executive-level roles, the cost can be even more—up to twice their salary.
Of course, a fair compensation package goes beyond salary alone. In a competitive job market, highly sought-after candidates consider additional perks. You should consider:
- Providing an attractive health insurance plan
- Bestowing a generous amount of vacation days
- Offering profit sharing or 401(k) contributions
To ensure that you are compensating your employees fairly, compare your salaries and benefits against any current HR data. The U.S. Department of State has a helpful list of online resources, and CompAnalyst lets you match your pay against market salary rates.
When employees truly feel valued for their time and efforts, not only do lingering feelings of burnout subside, they often become more dedicated and loyal workers. And this outcome benefits everyone.
Use this guide to learn how to conduct a pay equity analysis and ensure you are compensating your employees fairly.
3. Make it easier for employees to work together
When companies are dealing with workplace burnout across an organization, they often cite a lack of teamwork and mutual trust among their employees as contributing factors.
It’s not that people actively avoid collaboration at work. In fact, most of us are happiest when we find opportunities to engage with coworkers and become part of a cohesive team. We gain a sense of belonging when working together. So, what prevents collaboration?
The following are some of the more common (yet preventable) reasons:
- Lack of access to the right tools to manage time and work effectively
- Lack of understanding of individual employee workloads and deadlines
- Competing goals across the organization that promote siloed operations
Fortunately, there are several tools that you can utilize in the workplace to help employees address their time management and productivity challenges. Ultimately, this can also prevent burnout.
- Slack is an instant-messaging platform that encourages constant interaction, file sharing, and more. It also integrates with project management tools like Trello.
- Trello is an intuitive, flexible project management tool. It’s also an effective to-do app with the ability to collect tasks into lists and access a workload overview.
- Google Docs allows teams to create, edit, and store documents and spreadsheets online. A free, web-based application, it facilitates real-time work collaboration.
Managers can also make better use of their existing CRM software dashboards to help employees track their progress, share new information, and work efficiently as a team.
Emphasizing a culture of transparency can help break down silos between departments and teams. Employees need to understand how each task or project contributes to the success of the business. This will allow them to feel an emotional commitment to their roles.
Feeling like part of a team and connected to the people you work with is a major contributor to overall happiness at work. By mindfully working to foster connections between coworkers, employers go a long way toward combating workplace burnout.
4. Change up where your employees can work
For many employees, the source of workplace burnout is the traditional workplace itself. They may feel limited by cubicles and the requisite 9-to-5 schedule. The time spent commuting to work—averaging 52.2 minutes a roundtrip each day, according to U.S. census data—doesn’t help.
Offering employees the freedom and ability to work remotely is a surprisingly effective solution for overcoming this pervasive source of employee burnout and stress.
A university study revealed that participants with flexible options reported much higher levels of job satisfaction and reduced levels of psychological stress and burnout. Their flexible options included working from home and exercising control over their schedules.
Roughly 5% of U.S. employees (or about 8 million people) now work from home. Providing the option to work remotely not only benefits employees. Employers often see immediate increases in workplace productivity.
5. Give consistent feedback to your employees
When deciding how to overcome burnout at work, giving consistent feedback to each of your employees should be a priority. When it comes to preventing burnout, positive and constructive feedback are equally helpful. Each provides better direction and improves morale.
Everyone enjoys recognition and being valued. By providing consistent feedback to your employees, you can encourage continuous learning. This helps people feel comfortable with receiving a critical appraisal of their work and sharing ideas to improve performance.
And constructive feedback doesn’t have to be negative. When approached correctly, it can be an opportunity to clarify expectations, offer better direction, and show employees how invested you are in helping them achieve success.
In the long run, just how important is consistent feedback? Recent data shows that:
- 40% of workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback.
- 82% of workers express an appreciation for positive and negative feedback.
- Among highly engaged employees, 43% get feedback at least once a week.
- Turnover rates are 14.9% lower at companies that provide employee feedback.
Don’t relegate feedback to the semi-annual employee review cycle. To make an impact on employee burnout at your company, provide helpful feedback on a weekly basis.
Putting it all together
Burnout is a real phenomenon, one that can adversely affect productivity and morale, along with the well-being and health of your employees. By using any of these five strategies for preventing burnout at work, your company will be better equipped to retain your most valuable asset—your employees.
Learn strategies to focus and manage your energy, not your time, so you can accomplish more.