how to deal with burnout

Did you know 59% of American workers are experiencing at least moderate burnout based on research from Aflac Incorporated? That’s more than half! And that means big losses in productivity, positive culture, and ultimately the bottom line. So let’s talk about what’s behind the rise in employee stress and how to deal with burnout.

Stating the Obvious

First, it’s important to reiterate how much of an impact the pandemic had on workers worldwide. The emotional and physical toll this historic event took cannot be understated. While many aspects of daily living have returned to “normal,” much of the stress from the last several years remains.

As business leaders, it’s important to invest even more than usual in building strong culture, putting supports in place for our employees, and treating those around us with empathy. We’re all processing in different ways and likely processing more than we even realize.

Life has also shifted quite a bit. Parents in particular have had to juggle major demands at home and may need a level of flexibility they didn’t pre-pandemic. Getting creative about flexible work hours, days, and/or locations can make a big difference. 

Lack of Support

Feeling supported plays a significant role in whether an employee feels satisfied and in a sustainable position. Even small acts of appreciation can have a meaningful impact on the employee experience. From treating everyone to breakfast to recognizing work accomplishments, showing gratitude is a great way to demonstrate support. 

Manager SupportSupport also looks like making sure everyone has the resources to get the job done well. If your team has been requesting an additional tool or system, try to make it happen if possible. When we have what we need to do great work, we’re less likely to experience long-term frustration. And we feel heard when our needs at work are responded to. 

Showing this kind of support can also look like help managing the workload sometimes. If an employee has too much on their plate or is struggling in the moment due to personal reasons, helping to finish the job can mean a lot. 

Having to Be Too Available

As humans, we all need substantial downtime to rest our brains and refuel on a personal level. When our jobs require us to be in constant contact during “off” hours, it can wreak havoc on our mental health. 

Sometimes we inadvertently tap employees, especially high performers, for their insights and guidance even when they should be off the clock. Once in a while, it may be important to make an exception. But in general, it’s best to ensure employees can truly step away when the day is done. 

Employee vacation timeWhen it comes to the big picture, it’s also essential to encourage vacations and mental health time. If employees feel like they don’t have a backup person who can handle tasks, they may never step back. 

Work strategically to set up workflows that pull in other team members as needed. Then encourage employees to take time off and insist they truly unplug to get the fullest benefits. 

Unreasonable Deadlines or Demands

Overwhelm feeds burnout, so when deadlines are unrealistic or the workload is more than one person or team can carry, the trajectory is clear. To avoid this pitfall, begin with explicit job descriptions and expectations so everyone knows what they’re responsible for. This will help avoid confusion and overload. 

Communication is also critical. When there are solid processes in place for communicating project deadlines and delegating tasks well in advance, last-minute stress can be avoided. You’ll find this enhances the quality of the work, as well. No one performs their best when rushed or feeling undervalued. So take the time up front to get clear on a plan and it will have big payoffs. 

Lack of Staff

HiringOne of the most common reasons teams grapple with unrealistic work demands is lack of staffing. As companies struggle to find qualified candidates for their open roles, existing teams feel the strain (maybe even more than managers realize). 

We all go through staffing fluctuations; it’s part of being in business. But when an important role stays open, it can have a negative ripple effect on everyone. If you’re trying to figure out how to tap into the talent you need, get in touch with our experienced Staffing Managers at Masiello Employment Services. We’ve been building a strong network for nearly four decades, and we’re excited to put it to work for you!