Burnouts strike employees when they have exhausted their physical or emotional strengths. This usually occurs as a result of prolonged stress or frustration resulting either from employers’ indifference to less than ideal work environments, stressful shifts, lack of growth, unrealistic deadlines and several other similar situations. At other times, burnout has more to do with employees' expectations of themselves or a result of their personal circumstances.
Burned-out employees can be detrimental to the organisation in terms of their productivity. Furthermore, if burned-out employees quit, there are the costs of replacement searches and training. Hence, it becomes very important to keep a check on some key early warning indicators to check for employee burnout. Founder and CEO, Avsar HR Services, Navneet Singh shares some notable early warning signals to look out for towards the onset of employee burnouts include:
Being relaxed in every sense
Recent and extended signs of employee’s emotional, mental and physical exhaustion, including but not limited to being tuned out, forgetful, unable to concentrate, and already drained the minute they arrive in the morning are indicators towards the onset of a definitive burnout.
Not to be confused with being stressed out, employees on the verge of burnout start exhibiting certain disconnect with their work and people resulting from a lack of interest and hope.
Taking more frequent sick days and being absent more frequently indicates dropping intents to work which can be a possible fall out of burnout. Some employees may be unable to get out of bed, experiencing chronic stress and work overload, while others may just be completely demotivated by their work or having to deal with people from the office, resulting in a spike in absenteeism.
Mistakes on the rise
One of the key factors that point towards a possible employee burnout situation is the increasing inability to concentrate or remember important things. There is a growing tendency of making mistakes or forgetting important meetings or deadlines.
More isolated and depressed
When employees, sociable and lively at work, start becoming isolated and distant, avoiding others, or just isn’t his/her friendly self anymore, this could very strongly indicate the start of a burnout. Low morale and depression are dead giveaways of burnout of an employee.
The effects of employee burnouts are multi-fold, right from the draining of organisations morale to the replacement costs for employees who eventually leave as a result of such burn-outs. Hence, recognising some of these early signs of employee burnout is of immense significance to the organisation as a whole.
Steps that can be taken to avoid employee burnout
Employee burnouts can drain an organisation's morale as well as its wallet. While employee burnouts cannot always be avoided, it can be prevented with the right efforts at the right time. A regular and systematic investment into the following three steps can help keep burnouts at bay at your workplace:
Recognise the early burnout signs
Keep a look out for any of the early warning signals pointing towards employee burnout that include:
- Exhaustion (physical, mental, emotional)
- Disengagement and Absenteeism
- Increased Mistakes
Determine the root cause and provide support
If any of these early burnout symptoms are noted for any employee, the immediate next step should be to understand what is fuelling this burnout. The burnout causes can be identified through discussions with the affected individual (or the group). Any such discussion should be ensured of privacy and a relaxed atmosphere. This will help find out what are your employees have difficulties coping with and give them an opportunity to explain what they are experiencing.
Equally important is to remind such employees that they are valued and cared for by their team and company.
The final and most important step is to analyse the problem which is now open with facts and numbers from the employee discussions. The need at this point is to devise a solution and act. This is to ensure that whatever the drivers were for this situation, don’t repeat themselves and manifest as yet another episode of burnouts for any more employees.
The eventual need would be to devise an actionable plan with appropriate solutions, such as planning time management seminar, etc. However, the most significant is to ensure that you are addressing the real underlying cause of the problem, not just with its visible symptoms.
These tips can help recognise, prevent and manage employee burnout and keep employees happy, engaged and productive....