It’s important to give employees a break. For businesses that rely on a skilled, functional group of employees — and what business doesn’t? — maintaining a happy team is essential. You might think hiring quality individuals and offering competitive wages and benefits should be sufficient for lowering turnover and keeping your employees content.
Unfortunately, competitive compensation sometimes isn’t enough to prevent a devastating condition from affecting your team’s productivity. That condition is burnout, and it can cause severe internal headaches if left unaddressed.
To prevent employee burnout from becoming a problem in your workplace, make sure to catch the signs early on. Here are several ways you can monitor your employees’ state of mind and support their workplace well-being.
1. Check In With Your Employees Often
The best and easiest way to see how your team is doing is to ask them. While that might seem like a no-brainer, some businesses don’t take the necessary time to do so. If you judge your team’s state of mind purely by how productive they’re being, burnout could be widespread before you notice the problem.
So how do you check in your workers in a way that is useful and doesn’t come across as overly invasive? The best way is to have regular reviews or surveys embedded into your internal procedures across the board. That way, communication is ongoing and happens on an expected, recurring schedule.
There are definitely some pros and cons to both surveys and reviews. Surveys give your employees the opportunity to strongly consider their responses to questions before submitting them. Also, in the case of larger teams, they allow a lot of data to be easily collected and compiled. However, the questions-and-answer format doesn’t lend itself well to larger conversations on problem solving.
Reviews tend to be more time-consuming but open up a dialogue about any struggles an employee might be having. For these to be successful, however, supervisors must create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable honestly expressing concerns. Supervisors should be trained to look for signs of cynicism, which can be a major indicator of burnout. Additionally, it can be a sure-fire sign to give these employees a break.
Frequency of reviews will vary depending on your team’s size, but at a bare minimum, they should occur annually. For a more intensive review timeline, set a semi-annual or quarterly schedule.
2. Be Flexible When Possible
Few things contribute to burnout like stagnation. When employees don’t feel like they’re working toward advancement or a change, the potential for workplace apathy is very real. If your workers are expressing frustration at the same day-to-day routines with no end in sight, it’s time to consider other options.
In cases where there’s not a clear advancement path for an employee experiencing burnout, you can explore lateral moves. By having a conversation with workers about their interests, you can attempt to find other positions for them within their skill sets. For example, an outside sales representative might be able to move to an inside sales position with relative ease. Alternatively, a department supervisor might have the knowledge and experience for certain human resources responsibilities.
Even offering support for continuing education to facilitate an internal position change can be worth the investment. With the surprisingly high price of turnover, spending the money to diversify an employee’s skill set is oftentimes very cost-effective. Not only can this increase their happiness, but it also gives employees a nice break from their standard day to day tasks.
Of course, internal transfers aren’t always possible. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees may not have as much flexibility in terms of position movement. But if your company does have this ability and capacity, it can be presented as an option during employee reviews.
3. Offer Appreciated Perks
Any perks you can provide to break up the day-to-day grind will generally be appreciated by your staff. These can be as minor as a midday pizza party or as elaborate as a full-office weekend event with families included.
The biggest consideration regarding perks is whether or not your staff will value them. Going back to the previous point about data collection, the easiest way to figure out what your employees appreciate is simply to ask them.
Therefore, if you conduct a regularly recurring survey, include questions regarding potential perks and rewards. You can do so in an open-ended writing format or by asking employees to rank a list of options that you provide.
The bottom line is that perks and events keep the work weeks from running into each other in a monotonous slog. They also give employees something to look forward to, which in itself can help stave off burnout.
4. Encourage Time Off
It’s likely that you offer full-time employees paid time off and sick leave. Those paid days are there not only to attract quality talent, they’re also essential for giving workers a needed break.
If you notice workers are often leaving PTO on the table at the end of every year, it’s important to ask why. If you allow a generous amount of hours to roll over from year to year, workers might be building them up for a long vacation.
However, if they don’t take available PTO because they worry about their workload accumulating, you have a problem. You may need to hire additional staff to ease the workload or institute cross-training. Either way, taking PTO is something you should support.
Catch Burnout Early
Employee burnout can have a devastating effect on morale, productivity, and turnover. In some ways, burnout can function like an illness. There are numerous treatments you can offer to avoid or reverse the condition, but these actions are most effective in the early stages.
To keep burnout from becoming an issue at your business, listen to your employees and regularly assess how things are going. By performing regular maintenance on the mental well-being of your staff, your team will be happier and function better in their jobs.
Image Credit: Kampus Production; Pexels; Thanks!