Staff Burnout: Identify, Mitigate, Assist
What is Burnout?
The first step in identifying and mitigating staff burnout is understanding exactly what it is:
“Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” - Mayo Clinic
Burnout not only impacts the mental wellbeing of your staff but can also impact the productivity of your business. There is a clear ethical responsibility for businesses to identify and deal with staff burnout, but it also makes good business sense to ensure that your staff are not suffering from burnout to increase the likelihood that they are in an optimal state of productivity.
Common Reasons for Burnout
Excessive stress is the core reason why your staff may be experiencing burnout. This could be for several reasons, many of which are within the professional space. However, burnout can also occur when external factors impact an employee's ability to do their usual work.
Common reasons for burnout include:
● Lack of professional direction - such as a lack of clear professional progression
● Lack of clear expectations - such as not knowing what success looks like within their role
● Not enough resources - such as having a large workload and not enough resources to deal with it
● Lack of knowledge or skills - such as feeling like they don't have the skills they need to complete their role and feeling like insufficient training is provided to help them upskill
● Poor work/life balance - such as spending too much time working and not enough time enjoying life outside of work
● External global factors - such as pandemics, wars and other emotionally stressful world events
● External personal factors - such as challenges with family matters
Identifying Staff Burnout
Burnout can display itself in many different ways. Some people will actually be able to hide many of the signs of burnout, which means you need to be vigilant when looking for those who are suffering from this type of stress. Some signs to look out for include:
● Exhaustion - always looking tired
● Isolation - choosing to work and be alone during the working day
● Heightened sensitivity - not taking feedback well
● Lower productivity - productivity consistently dipping below normal rates
● Absenteeism - often calling into work sick
● Shortened temper - getting angry or frustrated with things more easily than usual
● Disengagement - from work and coworkers
● Negativity - failing to see the positive side of situations.
Ultimately, the above will act as indicators that a staff member may be experiencing burnout. It is down to those responsible for staff wellbeing to identify these signs and have conversations with those exhibiting them to understand better why they may be occurring.
How to Help
How you deal with staff burnout will depend on several factors ranging from the source of the stress to the unique personality of the person suffering from it. Here are some common ways that employers can tackle burnout:
● Facilitate more time away from work
● Offer more resources to help tackle workload
● Provide staff with access to private, independent counselling
● Give regular feedback on staff work, including thanks and praise where it is due
● Setting clear career progression for all staff and sticking to career promises
● Providing training to help upskill staff
Staff Burnout: Summary
Staff burnout can impact both employees and businesses negatively. It is within the best interest of everyone to find ways to identify and limit the potential for burnout.
Smart businesses will train their staff to recognise burnout in themselves and others to ensure that it is caught and remedied as quickly as possible. The information we have included in this article is a perfect starting place for educating yourself and others on how to do this.