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Employee Burnout: How to recognise it, and what you can do about it.

In every business, regardless of what they do or offer, there will come a point in which an employee or employees will start to experience feelings of job fatigue or worse, burnout. Hell, it even happens to stunt drivers, and burnouts are part of their day to day lives. Job fatigue and burnout can take hold in a countless variety of ways and combinations and can feel different to each person. Luckily, there are ways to recognise the symptoms of this consuming condition and rectify them. In this post, we will discuss five of the most common symptoms of job fatigue and burnout, and the easy ways in which you can start to alleviate these symptoms to keep your employees cool, calm and collected in their work lives.

Exhaustion

When thinking about the idea of employee burnout, this is the first and most literal concept that comes to mind. And for good reason. When an employee starts to feel the effects of burnout, this has a very noticeable and tangible translation into their exhaustion levels, in every sense of the word. Physically, they may appear to be sleeping less, may be more prone to headaches and body aches and a continual sense of lethargy. Mentally, this can be recognized in reductions in their ability to achieve tasks, their ability to concentrate and remember details and to engage with both the team and the task at hand.

Disengagement

This is a symptom that is difficult to identify from employee to employee, given how it presents itself. For employees that are typically prone to asking lots of questions, offering suggestions, volunteering themselves for projects, disengagement for them would be becoming sullen and more reclusive in their approach to work. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be more difficult to recognise this symptom in introverted and self-sufficient employees, but it is still very possible for it to occur.

A higher number of absences

Employee burnout can take the prospect of a disengaged employee even further if it is left unchecked. Some employees can feel as if since they perceive no value to their contributions at work, there is no point in being there in a literal sense. Others, who may be feeling physical or mental exhaustion are more prone to taking sick days for a range of reasons, including both physical and mental health concerns.

Mistakes

It should be no surprise that one of the symptoms of employee burnout is an increased rate of errors and mistakes in their work. Employees that are experiencing exhaustion and increasing levels of disengagement, two of the symptoms mentioned earlier, are more likely to either let errors slip into their work or be at such a level of apathy in which they do not care if errors do occur. This can also escalate to the point at which important deadlines and/or meetings are missed. It is important when attempting to alleviate this symptom that the employee is treated gently and assured that they can speak freely without repercussion as to if they are making these mistakes, and the potential reasons as to why to avoid them feeling stressed or targeted.

Increased levels of tension and sensitivity

The final symptom of job fatigue and employee burnout is one that is frequently entangled with the other four, and therefore can make broaching the topic with your employee quite difficult. Employees who are experiencing burnout may also be prone to increased sensitivity and tension in relation to the idea of feedback or constructive criticism. They may see this as a personal attack and amplify the nature of the feedback in their own minds to be much more significant than it actually is. This increased sensitivity may also be paired with a developing and intrinsic sense of nihilism about their work or their contribution to the company or cause.

How can you, as a manager, help?

Although the stress factors can be both internal and external for any employee experiencing burnout, the way forward in alleviating both these symptoms and the environment that generates them comes from the top down. Therefore, there are many easy and effective ways to keep your employees’ candles burning at only one end.

Firstly, arrange one on one meetings with any employees that you think may be at risk to discuss how they’re feeling and coping with their current workloads. It is important to ensure that these meetings have an open-door policy and that the employee is aware there are no repercussions to any feelings or views expressed within.

Secondly, it is important to set boundaries for your employees, so they are aware that there is a clear and definitive end to the workday. This will allow them to keep their expectations as to what they need to complete realistic, rather than obsessing over what they haven’t done, or worse, spending boundless hours to complete said tasks. These boundaries can also be established by encouraging your employees to take vacation days and to disconnect occasionally.

Thirdly, if you believe there are any issues with the working environment that may contribute to employee burnout, try to identify and address them. This may be in the form of balancing out the workload to ensure that every employee is working with what they can handle or encouraging a more positive atmosphere around the office.

If you reading this are feeling overwhelmed by this prospect, get in contact with the business coaches at Link Strategies to get you and your employees back on the right and burnout free track.