How to Prevent Burnout in Your Workforce

How to Prevent Burnout in Your Workforce

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

We’ve all heard of burnout. It’s somewhere between needing a solid holiday and booking a one-way ticket to Bali and never looking back. Long story short, burnout is far from ideal.

Here, we’re talking about burnout, its causes, and how you can prevent burnout in your workforce.

What is burnout?

Burnout, also sometimes known as burnout stress syndrome is usually an intense response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors. This complicated and multi-dimensional definition is partly why burnout is so difficult to identify and why so many employers fail to spot it in employees before it’s too late.

Generally, signs of burnout can be spotted when an employee shows evidence of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficiency all at once, often caused by:

  • High job demands
  • Role conflicts
  • Role ambiguity
  • High self-expectation
  • Feelings of inadequacy or incompetence
  • Feeling underappreciated
  • Feeling out of control at work
  • Not a good fit for the company
  • Inadequate resources
  • Lack of social support
  • Lack of feedback
  • Conflict between work and values

Personality traits can also affect burnout rates. For example, people with a high external locus of control, meaning that they attribute events and achievements to things outside of their control, are more prone to burnout.

Interestingly, burnout will also present itself as a denial of burnout. For example, if you confront a staff member that you’re worried they’re getting close to burning out, they might respond with things like:

  • “Once I achieve this goal, I’ll be fine.”
  • “I need to get this promotion.”
  • “You don’t understand.”

Often, this denial can lead to an even harder fall, since when burnout does occur, it’ll come as more of a shock.

How to Prevent Burnout in Your Workforce

How can burnout increase stress?

While burnout can cause stress, stress can also cause burnout. The relationship is not so much linear as it is cyclical -- and a vicious cycle at that.

A lot of the symptoms of burnout can also be defined as workplace stress. After all, conflict with coworkers, feeling inadequate, and unmet expectations can all be incredibly stressful situations.

When we’re stressed, we’re more likely to feel burnt out at work. And when we’re burnt out at work, we’re more likely to feel stressed in all the other aspect of our lives. So, preventing both burnout and stress among your staff will be essential for more overall wellbeing both in all aspects of their lives.

What are the symptoms of burnout and stress?

One of the first steps toward preventing and managing burnout is knowing what to look out for. Some of the most common stress burnout symptoms include:

How to Prevent Burnout in Your Workforce

Again, the symptoms of burnout will be similar to the symptoms of stress. However, some particular stress symptoms include:

  • Poor sleep habits
  • Acne
  • Stress rash or other skin issues

Burnout is more severe when employees start exhibiting symptoms including:

  • Self-medication with alcohol or other drugs
  • Sarcasm, negativity, and extreme cynicism
  • Debilitating self-doubt in their abilities

Before we go any further, it’s important to also point out that it doesn’t matter if you know what to look for if you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to see the signs of burnout.

It’s so important for leaders and business owners to take a hands-on approach and interact with your staff on a regular basis. Without connecting with your employees, there will be no way to tell if they’re experiencing these burnout symptoms and you won’t be able to prevent its consequences.

What are the consequences of burnout?

Although burnout isn’t considered a mental illness, it is certainly a chronic condition that will require changes to improve. Otherwise, you’ll risk the following consequence among your staff:

How to Prevent Burnout in Your Workforce

How to Prevent Burnout

The good news is, business owners and leaders can help to prevent burnout among staff before it happens. Some tried and true ways to prevent burnout include:

  • Assign realistic tasks and goals
  • Provide clear expectations
  • Allow for passion projects
  • Maintain reasonable work hours
  • Schedule breaks and make sure staff take them
  • Be flexible
  • Avoid spreading your team too thin
  • Define specific roles
  • Equip employees with proper tools
  • Offer resources
  • Provide ample and ongoing training
  • Create a culture of support
  • Provide feedback
  • Encourage socialising and physical activity throughout the workday
  • Be hands-on as a leader
  • Practice fairness
  • Acknowledge and reward your staff
  • Delegate responsibilities and empower your staff to make decisions
  • Educate about burnout and what to look out for

At Physio Inq, we do a few things we do to prevent burnout among our staff. We provide variety in their daily work, encourage them to take holidays when they need them, and support the pursuit of passion projects outside of their normal responsibilities.

Variety in day-to-day tasks is essential for keeping staff motivated and energised and we do this by offering an assortment of patients, situations, and treatment methods within our Physio Inq clinics. It works to keep things fresh and exciting.

To prevent burnout, we are also sure to check-in with our staff and offer support through daily huddles and weekly catch-ups as well as during monthly performance reviews and half-yearly or yearly evaluations.

These meetings all provide opportunities for staff to share their concerns and from there, we can all work together to make the changes necessary to avoid burnout and keep our operations running smoothly.

How can you manage burnout?

Even with all these preventative measures, some employees will still face burnout. From here, it’s important to simply not make things worse.

In addition to educating employees on how to recover from burnout, you’ll want to figure out how to reduce stress in the workplace and make changes in your workforce that will benefit everyone. Here are a few tips for managing burnout before it happens.

How to Relieve Stress and Manage Burnout

  • Do work you find meaningful
  • Regularly perform a job analysis
  • Give more than you take
  • Take responsibility
  • Exercise regularly
  • Learn stress management tools

Preventing stress helps your employees prevent burnout. Preventing burnout helps your employees prevent stress. Again, it’s a cycle.

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