Employee Burnout: What it Looks Like And What to Do About it

December 14th, 2012

The toxic combination of fatigue and boredom may not be deadly to your employees, but it’s certainly unhealthy for your bottom line and the future of your company. The math isn’t complicated: Happy employees are the ones who are motived, challenged and engaged, and happy employees stick around and thrive. Miserable employees are drained, exhausted, overworked, and angry, and they don’t stick around. They find other jobs, often after kicking down the props of workplace morale on their way out the door. Don’t let this happen.

Here’s what a burned out employee looks like:

1. He’s uncharacteristically tense, edgy, sensitive or hypercritical. If you notice an extended and unusual pattern of this behavior, intervene.

2. She’s taking an uncharacteristically high number of sick days and/or she’s showing up late for work, meetings, and events.

3. He’s missing deadlines or dropping responsibilities and he doesn’t seem to care that much about it.

4. She’s mentioned (directly or indirectly) that her efforts are going unnoticed or the demands placed upon her are becoming unreasonable.

If an employee starts showing these signs, how should managers react?

1. Try not to jump to conclusions, and ask questions before making statements. Tactfully raise the subject and ask the employee is everything is okay. Listen for an answer that might suggest family or medical difficulty.

2. Offer an opportunity to vent before offering a solution. If an employee is stressed, bored, or overworked, talking about it in atmosphere free of judgment can be very helpful. Sometimes just maintaining and open door and open mind can provide employees with all they need to release their frustrations and restore their energy.

3. Monotony can be a subtle but powerful enemy. Sometimes employees don’t even recognize that their feelings of frustration and stress are actually just the product of boredom. Reassign tasks when you need to and use teamwork to break up solitude and repetition. Sometimes it’s ironically more cost effective to assign two people to a job meant for one.

4. Avoid burnout in the first place by simply being a good manager. Keep directions and expectations clear and reasonable, stay open to employee suggestions and ideas, and distribute work fairly. Demonstrate respect and appreciation while doing all of these things. If managers beneath you have trouble following these simple steps, don’t just let the problem fester. Step in and actively provide the coaching and leadership training they may lack. 

Reach out to the NC staffing experts at PSU for more management tips that can help you banish burnout and protect your productivity.

 

One Response to “Employee Burnout: What it Looks Like And What to Do About it”

  1. Deborah Kline Says:

    Very well written. I’ve recently left a position in a call center just for this reason. Hope you have posted this on additional employment sites such as LinkIn

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