Sabrina Lowe, FEI Employee Assistance Representative

Burnout is the kind of word that’s bandied about in many situations. But what is burnout, and how can a company or organization help ensure that its employees are not suffering from it?

Often due to prolonged stress or frustration, burnout is defined as exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation. Burnout is a common occurrence in helping professions such as health care or social services; however, any job that focuses on taking care of someone else can take a toll on employees.

Rather than treating burnout as an employee problem, managers should realize they can play a part in its prevention. This begins with understanding what leads to burnout and what employers can do to combat it. Some of the most prevalent reasons for employee burnout include:

  • Piling too much work on those that are considered more capable than their co-workers.
  • Not having efficient or effective time management protocols in place.
  • “Excessive collaboration,” or too many meetings, emails and conference calls taking up time that could be better devoted to more productive tasks.

Here are some suggestions on how to help your employees combat burnout or, better yet, avoid it altogether:

Time off. Generous vacation or paid time off packages not only assist with recruitment, they are also large contributors to job satisfaction. Making sure employees have ample time away from the workplace to refresh and recharge their batteries will help with retention.

Assessing workloads. Although it isn’t always a viable option, keeping workloads as manageable as possible helps ensure staff are not overworked. Consider a quarterly or biannual evaluation of job responsibilities by employee or position for regular assessments.

Employee mentoring/coaching. Working with employees to determine what they need and where they want to go in their career shows the company cares and wants its workforce to
be successful.

Consistency. Fairness goes a long way in the workplace, and when employees observe favoritism among their colleagues, it can impact focus and productivity. Management should acknowledge employees based on their work ethic and performance as opposed to playing favorites.

Outside resources. Despite employers’ best efforts, sometimes workplace stress carries over into employees’ personal lives. Providing benefits like an employee assistance program creates a confidential outlet for employees to work through issues stemming from emotional exhaustion.

Is your organization feeling the firsthand effects of burnout? FEI has resources and the expertise to help. Contact us today for more information.