13 Mar HR Leaders: Make the Business Case for Addressing Team Burnout
HR leaders may snag the C-suite’s attention and make the business case for addressing burnout by presenting research from the numerous studies that demonstrate workplace wellness programs’ effectiveness, she said. HR professionals can also poll employees, she added; Instead of conducting an engagement survey, conduct a burnout survey. As companies take steps to improve well-being, they should measure improvements in areas like worker’s compensation, employee conflicts or sick days, she said.
Being committed to addressing burnout means intentionally changing the company culture. “Organizations play a massive role from a broader well-being perspective,” Guest said. Leaders and managers must be trained to see the signals of stress, he said. But this isn’t always simple. Most signs of burnout are psychological and therefore not outwardly apparent, Cord Himelstein, vice president of marketing and communication for HALO Recognition. “Many times, employees will hide their symptoms out of fear of repercussions. It really takes regular engagement and check-ins to stay informed about what’s going in their lives and how they are feeling to catch all the signs,” he said. A workplace culture that prizes kindness and emotional intelligence, sensitivity, and openness will serve as a preventative measure against burnout, he added.
“Many times, employees will hide their symptoms out of fear of repercussions. It really takes regular engagement and check-ins to stay informed about what’s going in their lives and how they are feeling to catch all the signs,”
Guest suggested companies establish “soft contracts” with employees upon their arrival. These contracts ensure employees know that, if they feel overwhelmed, they can have a conversation with their leaders, who won’t see them as weak for speaking up. This acceptance and expectation of vulnerability come as a “cultural nuance” — a thread running through the organization, Guest said. To reinforce that nuance, leaders need to talk about it regularly. After the new expectations have been established and communicated, leaders need to follow through. If you see signs that someone is working toward burnout, intervene, Guest added. Although symptoms of burnout can include absenteeism, lack of engagement and taking long lunches, it is also vital to identify when burnout is on the horizon. When managers observe patterns of behavior indicative of burnout — such as employees working longer hours or skipping lunch — the manager needs to step in, Guest said. Supervisors should ask the employee about the behavior, offer help, and consider doing a work analysis to determine how to manage workflow and workloads.
Employers may want to incorporate a discussion of personal well-being into performance reviews, Grady suggested: “Just like you are reviewing whether this person is a team player or a problem solver or an effective communicator, you’re measuring things like, are they taking time to disconnect? Are they engaging in whatever self-care you’ve pre-identified as important to them? Are they doing things regularly to make sure that they’re being deliberate rather than reactive in the way they work and the way they live?”