Employee burnout is one of the biggest issues facing employers, particularly in a post-pandemic environment, with many individual factors weighing heavily on employees, and adversely contributing to their overall health and wellbeing.

Since the commencement of the pandemic employee burnout levels have increased considerably, with the 2021 Global Workplace Burnout Study indicating a 5% increase from 2020 levels, with an estimated 34.7% of the 3,000 respondents to their survey, indicating that they had suffered some level of burnout due to their workplace.

For employers, this poses a tricky situation of balancing employee health and wellbeing, with the best outcomes for business. We take a look at what employee burnout is, and how you as an employer can avoid within the workplace.

What is Employee Burnout?

Employee burnout, also commonly referred to as workplace burnout is described as being a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic and systemic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, and is typically characterised by three stages, which include;

  • Feelings of depression or exhaustion

  • Increased mental distance from ones job or their position and role within the business, along with feelings of negativity and dissatisfaction with ones job;

  • Reduced professional capacity to complete the role requirements and remain productive within the organisation.

It is important to note that employee or workplace burnout is often incorrectly described as being a medical condition, however, whilst employee burnout can cause multiple medical conditions, such as stress and anxiety, it is however not considered a medical condition in its own right.

Employee burnout - Effects on business

Employee burnout can have devastating effects on business, particularly small business where there are not so many other employees around to rely upon, and where the feelings and culture of burnout can quickly spread from employee to employee.

Statistics compiled by the Australian and New Zealand Autonomy of Work Index in 2021 found that 92% of serious mental health issues and concerns in Australian workplaces can be attributed to work related stressors.

Other than having mentally exhausted, unproductive and a poor workplace culture, there are also many other detrimental effects of employee burnout on business, which include, poor sales, high training, and staff development costs due to low retention rates, and of course unhappy customers who are not receiving the best services that they could be from your business.

What causes employee burnout?

Just as everyone is different, employee burnout is also not something that can be attributed to certain or specific factors. Employee burnout is something that is very organisational and workplace specific, with varied factors triggering employees is different workplaces.

Some of the issues that can contribute to employee burnout include;

  • Under resourcing and not having adequate systems in place to distribute workload equally and effectively across the workforce

  • Organisational and operational change that is not introduced in an inclusive and collaborative manner

  • Mismatches of personalities

  • Differences of values between employer and employee

  • The global pandemic which has led to feelings of job insecurity

  • Digital advances which have led to hybrid working environments which can lead employees to experience difficulty removing themselves from work life

  • An unhealthy workplace culture.

How can businesses avoid employee burnout?

Business owners certainly have a tough task in terms of stamping out the prevalence of employee burnout, however the most effective and successful strategies in achieving this revolve around actively listening to your employees and putting yourself in their shoes by asking yourself some key questions.

Some of the key questions that business owners should focus on include;

  • How frequently do you discuss employee health and wellbeing with your employees in an open, honest, and non-confrontational manner?

  • How are you managing workload, ensuring that your employees are not overwhelmed with consistent last minute, time sensitive or urgent requests?

  • What policies and procedures do you have in place to ensure that you are adequately and effectively supporting your team?

  • What are you doing to ensure a positive, upbeat workplace culture is maintained?

  • How are you and your management discussing workplace issues with your employees, are you being inclusive, collaborative, and empathetic and how could you improve this process?

An example of an Australian employer who has asked these key questions and made changes to the workplace in an attempt to reduce employee burnout in their workplace is Deloitte. In June 2021 Deloitte introduced a new flexible work policy which focused extensively on employee wellbeing. This new policy allows employees to shape their workday, working flexible hours to suit their needs and other commitments such as family responsibilities. The policy also includes, wellbeing leave, volunteering leave to allow employees to have a greater work life balance and leave for cultural holidays.

Deloitte has taken these steps in a move the coincides with evidence derived through many studies on this issue, which suggest that burnout levels are lower in organisations that not only have effective and supportive leadership, but who offer flexibility and well thought out and implemented employee support policies.

Let the professionals help – DreamStone HR

With sourcing talented and skilled employees an enormous challenge for business owners currently, it is vital that employers consider the effects that employee burnout can and will have on their workplace, and ensure adequate strategies are put in place to minimise this.

The team at DreamStone HR are experts when it comes to development and implementation of workplace policies and procedures that will reduce the likelihood of employee burnout in your workplace. With 45 years of combined industry experience, give the team at DreamStone HR a call today (02) 8320 9320 or email, and let us ensure employee burnout does not occur in your business.

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