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How do I know my employees are burning out?
Stress is a normal and healthy part of life, to a certain extent. It keeps you on your toes and it helps people perform at their best. If your employees are able to recover from all life’s stressors, there’s no need to worry. But what if your employees are too stressed for too long? If left unchecked, high stress levels can result in burnout. Employers have a responsibility here, and as a manager, you can play a big role in recognizing your employees’ stress levels and help them prevent burning out. Here’s how you can recognize an imminent burnout as a manager.
Work-related burnout symptoms
Burnout can manifest itself in many different ways. If your employees are consistently under a lot of stress, both their physical and mental energy reserves will eventually run dry. This will look different for everyone, depending on the type of person you are to begin with, what your habits are, what normally gives and costs you energy and so forth.
In general, though, someone with burnout symptoms starts to feel empty and tired. Moreover, they start to run into sleeping and concentration issues and headaches come up more often. But these signs aren’t always easy to notice as a manager. And when you do, it may already be too late. Therefore, it’s good to look for symptoms that mainly manifest themselves in the work environment. The following signs may be giveaways that your employee is burning out.
Your employee calls in sick more often than usual
Burnout affects the immune system, thus increasing the chances of your employee getting sick. A compromised immune system makes your employee more susceptible to illness, and sometimes the burnout symptoms themselves are bad enough for your employee to call in sick. Do you have an employee that, in the past, (almost) never called in sick, but seems to do so more and more often recently? It may be good to check in with them. You could ask them if they’re doing OK, if they’re resting and relaxing enough and if they’re not experiencing too much stress.
Your employee is busy (all the time)
Being busy isn’t a problem in and of itself. Some periods will be busier than others, and working on a big project can take up a lot of your employee’s time. However, if your employee seems to be busy at all times, and they don’t ever have time to take on something on top of their regular activities, it may be a sign that they’re struggling. Maybe they’re experiencing too much pressure, or their productivity has already decreased because they are stressed out.
Stress can impact productivity, and oftentimes the way your employee behaves can be an indication on whether or not they’re starting to burn out. Does your employee make a lot of cynical comments about their workload, or do they seem aggravated? That may be a sign that something is up.
All their spare time is used to rest and recover
If your employee uses weekends and evenings off exclusively to recover from work, something might be off. Spare time can (and should) be used for rest, but your employees should also be able to live life when they’re not at work. Having fun is part of life, and when work is so demanding that your employee is no longer able to do so, something is off. How is your employee’s workload? Are they biting off more than they can chew? Or are they feeling rather unproductive and can seem to get anything done? It’s important not to judge in this situation, or your employee may not want to open up about the issue. Mutual trust should be at the base here.
Your employee is irritable
Being (nearly) burned out impacts your ability to regulate emotions. This can cause you to be irritable and react rather emotionally to minor things. It can also cause your employee to avoid certain situations. Maybe they avoid conversations during lunchtime, or they’re always making excuses to get out of meetings or company activities. Even the most extraverted and sociable people can start to behave this way.
Work performance starts to decline
Missing deadlines, poor work performance, forgetfulness, sloppy mistakes: these can all be signs that your employee is burning out. It can be very frustrating and stressful for your employee when they notice that their performance starts to decline. It can be a big hit to their confidence and even their self worth. Have you noticed that your employee is struggling? When you approach them about this, it’s important to be as understanding as possible.
The consequences of employee burnout
A burnout is a very rough experience for any employee. It can take months to fully recover, and at times you won’t be able to recognize yourself. And the work is not done after recovering from a burnout. It’s essential that the employee continues their tasks in a responsible manner to prevent burning out again. And although your employees’ health is what matters most, burnout among employees is a tough situation for the company as well. The costs associated with burnout are sky high. According to Gallup, an actively disengaged employee costs their organization 34% of their salary. and Harvard Business School found that the treatment of burnout costs an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the US.
What should you, as a manager, do if your employees are showing signs of burnout?
When your employee is showing signs of burnout, it’s essential they get the help they need. And the sooner the better, because the longer your employee ignores or tries to work through the symptoms, the harder it will be to recover. And if you’re burned out, the road to recovery will be a long one. A psychologist can help your employee identify their problem areas and restore balance before it’s too late. Do you take care of your employees?
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes