As the end of 2020 comes closer and closer, many of us are facing burnout and feeling especially unmotivated. Signs of burnout in the workplace have increased by 33% in 2020. Continuous burnout can significantly affect workplace retention and result in higher absenteeism and turnover. Here are 15 ways to help prevent employee burnout to help recharge employees in all levels of your organization.
1. Hold Walking Meetings
In pre-COVID times, walking meetings would be the most effective to help recharge a team and help get them out of the typical meeting room. While we continue to work virtually, walking meetings can still be possible, they will just look a little different. If the weather is nice, employees can take headphones and a mobile device and attend the meeting during a walk.
2. Take Mental Health Days
During highly stressful times, morale declines quickly. Not only allowing employees to take a mental health day, but encouraging it, can be helpful to everyone. Some employees might be apprehensive about requesting a mental health day for fear of being perceived as someone who is not a team player. Having the knowledge that their manager supports them and has their back can help reduce that apprehension.
3. Support Vacation Time
Encourage employees to take their vacation time and ensure that there aren't excessive balances at the end of the year. You can also include activities during business hours such as weekly social events that can give employees a reason to walk away from their desks every once in awhile. You can also encourage managers to openly discuss work/life balance and get feedback from your employees.
4. Be Flexible
Many organizations have been very flexible this year, but even after COVID-19, work from home flexibility is something to consider. Starting with just one work from home day per week can help employees take a break from their commute and the busy office.
There are a variety of benefits with this strategy. It builds trust with your employees, by showing that you are confident that they can manage their time productively at home. It also saves your employees' gas and valuable time spent commuting - even just one day a week can go a long way in an employee's mind. Having a flexible work from home policy can greatly help employee fatigue and engagement issues.
5. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Burnout isn't exactly a new concept. Many students, especially in 2020, have been facing burnout - and it doesn't just go away when you enter the workforce. Avoiding burnout in school can be achieved through the same techniques used to avoid it in the workplace, and being proactive, not reactive is key. Encourage managers to try to be as approachable as possible, so when an employee is starting to feel burned out, they are comfortable discussing it with their manager and not feel intimidated or perceived as "lesser" because of it. Establishing open lines of communication early on is extremely helpful.
6. Promote Work-Life Balance
Work/life balance is sort of a buzzword these days, but it's so important to ensure these practices are being implemented, not just discussed. Encouraging mindfulness whether it be through mindfulness spaces throughout the office, company-paid app subscriptions, or company-paid yoga classes, can be very helpful. It's also important to be upfront with employees about the nature of the work. Even if your company is still in the start-up phase and in a demanding environment, offering these small opportunities for mindfulness can ease some of that stress for prospective employees.
7. Distribute Fair Workloads
Fair distribution of work responsibilities and projects can drastically prevent employee burnout and improve retention. Performance goals should be communicated in a clear and concise way at the beginning of the year, so no one is scrambling to hit a goal post that keeps moving.
8. Avoid Unnecessary Stress
As a manager, try to be as inclusive and transparent with your employees as possible. Ask for their feedback. When a boss is unavailable or non-responsive for whatever reason, it can add unnecessary stress onto the employee and lead to burnout. Constantly switching assignments or giving confusing instructions can also create unnecessary stress.
9. Help Employees Prioritize
If an employee comes to you for advice regarding burnout, help them prioritize their tasks or projects. This can help alleviate stress from feeling disorganized and feeling like they have 25 different projects on their plate at once. Employees can also benefit from the prioritization coming directly from their manager, so they know they are doing the right tasks in the right order.
10. Educate Managers
HR should be training managers on ways to keep employees engaged and motivated. The responsibility of preventing burnout of employees ultimately falls on supervisors, because they control all employees' workloads. Managers create the culture of their department or team. If there are red-flags within a department, such as high turnover, HR has the responsibility of educating the leaders and giving them the tools needed to maintain higher retention rates.
11. Be Open to Adapt
In the modern world, not every single employee works exactly the same. Some people work best when they start their day at 7am, others work best when they start their day at 11am. If your industry allows flexible schedules, this can tremendously help employees avoid burnout. After COVID-19 is in the past, don't rush to get everyone back in the office 5 days a week. Consider a hybrid model for teams that require collaboration. If an employee spends the entire day working alone in their office, the ability to do so from the comfort of their own home once in awhile will drastically prevent burnout.
12. Ask for Feedback
Asking for feedback gives employees some control over their work. They are the ones closest to the tasks and projects, so if there's a more efficient way of doing things, they're the go-to person.
13. Encourage Interpersonal Relationships
Fostering meaningful relationships in the workplace will help people feel connected and more engaged in their team. Coming into an office full of friendly faces is much more motivating than an office full of strangers. This can be especially useful in an industry with high turnover, such as the restaurant industry. As a manager, even if you have hundreds of employees, do your best to know everyone's name and get to know them a little better. Your employees will certainly not forget the effort and feel like they are truly appreciated in the company.
14. Don't Forget the Little Things
The little things DO matter. Remembering each employees' birthday or occasionally providing lunch can go a long way. Even something as simple as going into the break room and being available to address employee matters quickly and efficiently can make a real difference.
15. Don't Forget to Celebrate!
Corporate events can help employees really get to know each other and foster interpersonal relationships. It also gives them a personal stake in the business and helps them feel more connected to the company. Many employees do their work with their head down, but they have a lot of knowledge to contribute. Getting them to open up through corporate or social events can help them identify with the organization and truly feel part of the team.
For more tips on managing burnout, check out our blog post, "How to Combat Work At Home Burnout" by clicking the button below!