To comprehend if an employee is overworked or not is never an easy task. At times, the team leader would not realize until it is too late to help the staff recover from the state of exhaustion. But employee burnout at work isn’t a new phenomenon and has been prevalent in the corporate world for decades now. It is only during the pandemic that workers began to voice their state of mind. If surveys are to trust, the year 2020-21 has witnessed an alarming rise in the percentage of employees feeling overworked and exhausted.
Should the pandemic be blamed? Perhaps yes, and no
Employee burnout at work has been co-existing with company cultures for decades. Some warning signs are— sudden drop in productivity, failing deadlines, low creativity, lack of impulsiveness to deliver, sudden outbursts, and more. Albeit the reasons can never be the same, but it is about time team leaders start addressing the elephant in the room: the workload. Employee burnout will continue to rise unless organizations start focusing on employee experiences and wellness programs.
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What is employee burnout?
According to WHO, overworked employees feel a sense of mental distance from their jobs. They no longer relate to goals and targets that once motivated them. The lack of energy and exhaustion pushes them to a state where anger outbursts become frequent, and they are unable to perform even the simplest task on their own.
There are umpteen reasons that may be affecting an employee’s productivity and giving rise to mental fatigue. Breakless working hours, endless screen time, lack of communication, never-ending workload, unstable working schedules, and so much more. The COVID crisis only made it worse. According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, India ranked 2nd in Asia with 29% of employee burnout cases. And it ranked 1st with 41% of workers admitting no gap between their personal and professional life. At this rate, it wouldn’t be astonishing for organizations to witness low productivity and retention rate if they do not turn their focus to the revenue-producing resources of their company— the employees.
Here’s how team leaders and HR professionals can combat employee burnout at work and restore team synergy:
Communicate with your staff: Strengthen your communication with employees. Ask them to speak up if anything is bothering them, the workload is excess, or they cannot meet deadlines. Having regular and healthy conversations with your staff can help them unload and be vocal about stress and exhaustion.
Recognize and reward: Recognize the efforts put in by the team or an employee after completing a project. Reward them with bonuses or certificates. Sometimes, even a pat on the back or a round of applause and acknowledgment can be incredibly motivating and help boost their morale.
Promote wellness activities: Help employees beat the stress by arranging wellness activities in the office and online. Encourage them to take more breaks. Plan fun Fridays or Saturdays where they can mingle with other teammates and indulge in interactive activities or spend some leisure time away from the screens. Organize team lunches, discourage long working hours, and arrange mental wellness programs to help employees cope with stress.
Reduce micromanagement: Give employees the freedom to handle projects and tasks their way. Ownership can be a great impetus to keep the employees driven towards their goals. Micromanagement, on the other hand, can increase stress and pressure that will inadvertently affect overall productivity.
With the rising rate of employee burnout in the country, leaders must turn their attention towards their staff before it’s too late. With the COVID crisis adding to the prevailing work stress, employees are bound to feel mental fatigue and exhaustion sooner or later. Hence, to overcome burnouts, HR professionals must increase employee welfare and wellness programs and create an environment where the workers can feel more supported and motivated to thrive. The organization’s one step towards eliminating burnouts can make a big difference in the company’s productivity and keep the employee retention rate high in the long run.
- Employees in India face increased burnout at work during pandemic: Report | The Economic Times | October 7, 2020
- Employee Burnout: Understanding and Tackling It | Vantage Circle | Mrinmoy Rabha | May 17, 2021
- Matter of Mind: Beating the burnout is ultimate need of hour | Financial Express | Vaishali Dar | February 15, 2021
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