You've seen the signs before: a drop in productivity, negative shifts in mood, an increase in sick days being used. An employee is burned out, and that's a problem for them and their company. A 2017 study found 95 percent of human resource managers surveyed said employee burnout is having a negative effect on employee retention. As any HR manager knows, high turnover is both expensive and bad for company morale. What's behind employee burnout? Read on to find four common culprits behind burnout:
1. Overworked and underpaid
There's asking for dedication, and then there's asking someone to work unreasonable hours for what they're being paid. Daily tasks aside, how much time do your employees spend answering emails after work hours? Are they being compensated for this time, or has it become part of a company culture that ignores the importance of work-life balance?
Ideally, going to work shouldn't just be about a paycheck, but when someone is being underpaid and working themselves to the bone, burnout is bound to happen. If company executives are interested in reducing turnover, they may begin by tracking just how much work they're asking their employees to do for the amount they're paying.
Do the simple math – divide an employee's annual salary by how many hours a week they're really working. Does that seem like an appropriate hourly rate for their job title? If not, it's time to reexamine.
2. Poor management
Nearly everyone has had that supervisor they dreaded interacting with – don't be that supervisor. Maybe that person was a micromanager, or reacted with anger over every small mistake. Micromanagement is a common complaint that can be quickly remedied.
The main reason anyone lands a job is because they are considered capable enough to excel at their position. That means that after an orientation and adjustment period, they don't need to be told how to interact with certain clients, they don't need you to answer emails on their behalf and they don't need to feel like every move they make is being watched. A manager should aim to give employees freedom in how they approach their work. As long as tasks are getting done and done well, no one needs a manager hovering over their desk breathing down their neck.
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3. Wasted time
Minutes and hours spent on nonessential tasks add up quickly and take valuable time away from the work an employee was hired to do. Not every issue or discussion requires an in-person meeting. Every time you consider calling for a meeting, ask yourself if it's worth it or if it can be handled quickly over email. Every few minutes chatting at the beginning of gatherings, taking laptops to conference rooms and setting up presentations are precious minutes taken out of your employees' days.
If you do need to call for a meeting, think of the invitees. Do each and every one of those people need to be there? If not, don't invite them. The same goes for emails. Many items can be handled without hitting "Reply all."
A recent study by Bain & Company found wasted time plaguing the American workplace. Researchers found at one company, the average manager was losing one day a week to email correspondence, and another two days each week to meetings.
It's part of a phenomenon researchers dubbed "excessive collaboration," or the tendency to emphasize teamwork and roundtable input over expediency and appropriate time management. Imagine if you could give eight hours a week back to employees – they would have more time to do meaningful work and feel less frustrated and burned out from needless tasks.
4. Lack of reward and recognition
They're overworked, underpaid, and even when they go above and beyond, they still feel underappreciated. If this sounds like your company, employee burnout should be no surprise. All hope is not lost, though – it can be fixed.
Start by recognizing the hard work your employees are putting in. Hold more regular performance reviews and give positive feedback at these and other times. One great way to set up a routine of acknowledging staff is to use OKRs and performance management software to track staff progress and give recognition along the way. A virtual pat on the back can go a long way.