Great business leaders push individuals to reach their full potential and achieve great things. However, it is possible to push people too hard, which can lead to employee burnout, a serious and pervasive problem in today’s business world. When individuals become burned out, their productivity drops sharply and the company as a whole can suffer. For this reason, business leaders need to be diligent about protecting their employees from burnout. This means creating an environment that discourages burnout and carefully monitoring employees to identify when intervention is necessary. The following are some key ways to prevent burnout among employees.
Few things are more frustrating than feeling powerless. Therefore, business leaders should give their employees a certain amount of agency. For some employees, opportunities for advancement and the ability to work on new, challenging projects lead to empowerment. For others, empowerment comes from feeling trusted. Often, giving individuals a project and trusting them to come through rather than micromanaging it is enough. Empowerment can also come from the ability to give constructive feedback and feel heard. Importantly, business leaders should recognize that empowerment looks different for each employee, and creating an empowering environment usually involves several initiatives.
Keep equipment functional.
Business leaders should realize that burnout can also stem from rather mundane problems. Sometimes, employees get frustrated simply because they do not have the tools to do their job or because the tools they do have are old and nonfunctional. Feeling like one’s job performance suffers because of technological limitations is extremely discouraging and can lead to feelings of helplessness. This situation can quickly lead to burnout, yet the solution is rather simple. When employees voice the need for new or better equipment, the response from the company needs to be swift. Not only does a quick response resolve the problem, but it also makes employees feel heard and valued.
Address the problem of stress.
Prioritizing mental health ultimately leads to greater productivity by ensuring that everyone is in a good place to work effectively. One way employers can help is to offer wellness programs that include a segment on dealing with stress, because when employees have excellent stress-management and coping skills, they can handle difficult situations without becoming overwhelmed. Learning to cope with stress should be an ongoing mission that companies can address by scheduling lunch talks and other events. In addition, business leaders should keep their doors open for people who feel overly stressed and connect those employees to resources without any judgment.
Provide a positive example.
Business leaders also struggle with burnout for a variety of reasons. However, individuals who have developed good strategies for dealing with work stress, such as going on vacations, scheduling mental health days, and achieving a good work-life balance, can provide an excellent example for employees. Perhaps more importantly, business leaders who are overly driven can cause their employees to push themselves too hard. Further, leaders who encourage their employees to take breaks without doing so themselves are not likely to create a truly supportive, nourishing environment.
Celebrate victories, even the small ones.
When people feel that their employers don’t appreciate the work they do, they can quickly reach the point of burnout. Business leaders therefore need to take time to recognize the achievements of their employees and celebrate their victories. Recognizing the hard work of particular employees by name makes them feel like their labor has value and encourages them to continue working diligently. Employees also appreciate awards, which do not necessarily have to be monetary in nature. Dinners, lunches, small gifts, and other gestures go a long way in showing appreciation and keeping employees engaged.
Encourage workers to take breaks.
While vacations can be a good way for employees to maintain a great work-life balance, business leaders should not forget about the importance of employees taking small breaks throughout the day. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a five-minute break during periods of intense work can provide a number of different physical and mental benefits. Employees who take these small respites get the chance to address their stress and refocus on the most important tasks, and overall productivity often increases when employees take breaks. As such, business leaders should make it a point to encourage their teams to take several small breaks throughout the day and even praise people who do so to confirm these breaks won’t be viewed as laziness.
Focus on creating community.
When employees feel that they don’t belong, they can quickly begin to experience burnout. To give employees the chance to form strong social connections at work, business leaders can establish formal support groups for their employees. They can also take an informal approach to building community, such as providing funding for team dinners or recreational outings, encouraging the formation of company sports teams, or even trying to organize some company bands. By giving employees the chance to build connections in the office, leaders can help their workers feel supported and give them important outlets for stress.