With year-end deadlines, annual strategic planning and the holiday season thrown in, it’s the most stressful time of the year. And if your people were already stressed it might turn into full-on burnout.
Employee burnout can cause irreversible damage to your employees and to your entire team. In fact, 95% of HR professionals blame the loss of good employees on job burnout, according to a survey from Kronos Inc. and Future Workplace.
“Employee burnout has reached epidemic proportions,” said Charlie DeWitt, VP, Kronos. “It will cause an organization’s top performers to leave the business altogether.”
Top causes of burnout
Aside from feeling like they’re underpaid, employees say the top contributors to burnout are unreasonable workloads and long hours, according to the survey.
So, how can those in leadership step in to turn things around? Learn how to recognize the signs of burnout on your team and heed the advice from the following experts that are taking a proactive approach to banish burnout.
If you have employees who are particularly overeager to tackle things, check in regularly to discuss their workload and make sure they’re not biting off more than they can chew, says Tamara Lilian, Manager of Culture and Experience at HubSpot, a software company that has a written “Culture Code,” created to support its people, culture and values.
Simply asking how an employee is handling their workload shows that you as a manager are concerned about them and their well-being, not just how much work gets done.
Trust your employees
Be extra careful not to micromanage.
While HubSpot managers are encouraged to maintain strong communication and be available for help whenever it’s needed, says Lilian, the company trusts employees to use good judgment.
In other words, employees are given a large degree of control over their own work, which has been shown to correlate with both higher productivity and overall wellness, say studies. To get work done on time, employees ask for help when they need it and keep managers updated on projects.
Switch things up
One of the most successful strategies management expert Katie Douthwaite Wolf has used to de-stress employees is to vary their workloads. “For example, if you have an employee who spends most of her days analyzing pages of numbers, give her a creative assignment – like writing a blog post or creating an outline for an internship program,” said Wolf. “With this kind of change in their day-to-day routine, your employees will often find a renewed energy and excitement for their work.”
Lead by example
Research shows that women are likely to suffer burnout more than men and that female leaders experience burnout twice as often as their male colleagues.
So when a female leader takes time off, it ends up benefiting everyone. You’re showing your team that it’s an important thing to do, says Lilian.
But you need to encourage your employees to do the same. If you realize that it’s been a while since an employee’s taken off, bring it up.
Even if that person says they’re too busy, says Lilian, tell them that you’re ready to work with them to make sure all bases are covered while they’re out.
And if you can arrange it …
Give the gift of time
Closing the office between Christmas and New Year’s (or even for just an extra day) goes a long way toward relieving burnout. It can increase team morale as those left behind (who couldn’t take time off or simply don’t celebrate) aren’t struggling to cover for their co-workers who are off enjoying the holiday.
“Giving employees time off to spend with family and friends also shows you value their lives outside of work,” says Sue Hawkes, CEO of corporate coaching company YESS!. “This goes an especially long way with younger employees.”
Days off not doable?
Decrease the stress for your employees by bringing in a licensed masseuse for an hour of chair massage or having a yoga teacher come in for a class. Your employees will appreciate it and you’ll see the positive results when they bring their less-stressed out selves back to work. Then you can breathe a sigh of relief.