13 Apr Digging Deeper into the Cause of Your Team’s Burnout
Burnout has reached such high levels in the workplace, the World Health Organization declared burnout as an official “occupational phenomenon.” Employers will not want to ignore its prevalence. In fact, they may want to enact preventative measures and solutions in order to mitigate and alleviate the adverse effects of burnout. While burnout is always caused by stress, not all stress leads to burnout. The intensity of the stress, its duration, and how employers and employees handle it determines if it morphs into burnout. As lean organizations expect fewer employees to do more work and do it faster, the possibility of burnout is established.
Burnout causes problems for employees and companies alike. According to a “systematic review aimed to summarize the evidence of the physical, psychological and occupational consequences of job burnout,” burnout is a “significant predictor” of conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, pain, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, depressive symptoms, use of psychotropic and antidepressant medications, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and presenteeism. Burnout affects businesses, too. It results in $125 to $190 billion per year in healthcare costs, according to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Burnout affects employee engagement, productivity, safety, and retention.
Companies that don’t take steps to prevent employee burnout could drive top performers away and find themselves in a bigger pinch.
A recent survey from Accountemps showed that 96% of all senior managers believe their teams experience various degrees of burnout. But according to Accountemps, the two groups disagreed on the causes of burnout; while employees ranked constant interruptions as the top cause, senior managers said unmanageable workloads were the primary issue. Managers also said career stagnation, constant interruptions, a toxic culture, and dated technology contribute to burnout, in that order. Workers, however, ordered the causes of burnout as career stagnation, unmanageable workload, a toxic culture, and dated technology. The survey also found that, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest level of burnout, 1 in 5 managerial respondents rated their team’s burnout as an eight or higher. For workers, the average burnout level was five, but more than a quarter of respondents rated their burnout as falling between eight and 10. “Managers need to identify responsibilities that can be reassigned or put on hold,” Accountemps senior executive director Michael Steinitz said in a news release. “They can also bring in temporary professionals to alleviate heavy workloads, support day-to-day needs, and assist with projects requiring specialized skills.
Companies that don’t take steps to prevent employee burnout could drive top performers away and find themselves in a bigger pinch. These steps range from small fixes to broad solutions. As Steinitz suggested, some employers may need to bring in some extra talent in order to help small or understaffed teams meet big deadlines. Other organizations will need to make larger changes in order to address burnout. For example, some corporate cultures set too-high expectations, such as requiring workers to respond constantly to emails after hours. Organizations with such cultures may need to reevaluate their standards. Employers can also review workloads, minimize workplace distractions, and offer flexible work schedules.
Chronic health problems, absenteeism, high healthcare costs, and productivity losses are the most prominent possible adverse outcomes of burnout. But a less visible problem is the effect burnout has on employers’ ability to attract and retain talent, especially in an employee-driven labor market. HR tech company Hibob released a survey showing that 69% of the respondents will turn down a job offer if they learn that a company’s employees are generally dissatisfied or, in many cases, burned out because of the work environment or culture. Employers must address burnout if they want to succeed in the competition for talent.
What is your organization doing to address these causes and what can others learn from your approach? Share your thoughts with us: firstname.lastname@example.org