What Is Burnout?
According to Psychology Today, burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, as well as feelings of ineffectiveness or lack of accomplishment. Christina Maslach, professor emerita of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, cites three main warning signs that mean an employee is at risk of burnout or is already facing it:
1. Depersonalization: Employees may seem to be distancing themselves and seem to have lost their compassion and empathy for others.
2. Exhaustion: This is when employees are so weighed down by work demands, that they no longer act like themselves and seem sluggish and either emotionless or overly emotional.
3. Reduced personal accomplishment: Employees start missing deadlines, making frequent mistakes, and no longer show a drive for success.
Burnout is a very specific type of job related stress that is difficult to fix once it has set in. That is why preventing it is so important.
Ebix is a leading international supplier of on-demand infrastructure exchanges to the insurance, financial, and healthcare industries. Listed below are their best tips for preventing burnout withing your organization.
1. Adjust Your Company Culture. Ebix states that burnout is not an individual problem, it is a corporate problem. Preventing burnout relies heavily on how employees are treated and the overall company culture. Be sure to show all employees respect, give recognition, and don’t overload high performers with too much work. Also, focus on creating a company culture that promotes personal health and stress management.
2. Look Beyond Wellness Programs. What really boosts employee health and productivity is showing that you as an organization genuinely cares. Incorporating a wellness program is a great start, but that alone won’t prove you care. Survey employees about what they would to see most in the workplace, it could be anything from a nice space to take a break or a space for mothers to breast feed. The important thing is that you follow up and provide some of the things employees need to feel cared for.
3. Connect Everyday Work to the Mission. Work is much more meaningful when you know what you are doing matters. Be sure to communicate the organizational mission frequently and help employees see how their individual work fits into that bigger picture. This will help employees feel valued and more driven, rather than bored and frustrated.
4. Check In Often. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or formal meeting, just a simple “How are you doing?” can go a long way. Stop by and check in on employees often, and pay attention to their actions as well as their words. If employees are seeming frustrated or short tempered, encourage a break or talk to them about their well-being. These small things really show employees you care and can play a big role in preventing burnout.
5. Revisit Your Vacation Time and Flexible Work Policies. One of the biggest causes of burnout is overworking. Employees need time to really rest and fully recharge, however some policies or company cultures discourage taking time off. Consider offering more vacation time or coming up with a flexible work schedule where employees can work from home or a different location one or two days a week. While they may be out of the office more, you will be surprised how much this can increase productivity and performance and decrease stress.
For more information about preventing burnout, check out this PDF created by Ebix.