Employee Burnout

Are you burning out your employees?

There has been much spoken and written about The Great Resignation,  the economic trend where employees voluntarily decide to leave their employers in search for a more meaningful and fulfilling life. . https://www.recruitmentaustralia.net.au/the-great-resignation-is-it-real/

As we embark on a new work year, the theory is that employee return to the jobs refreshed and lively after their time off.

However, this does not appear to be the case, in fact, the opposite – employees are ‘dragging’ themselves into the new work year feeling un-refreshed, tired and in many cases, burnt out.

Already running on an emotional ‘empty tank’, the thought of another online call (if still working from home), has left many exhausted and devoid of mental energy, enthusiasm, and engagement.

After all the talk and coverage around The Great Resignation, there now appears to be a new phenomenon – The Great Slump – which refers to employee burn out and which could explain why The Great Resignation is happening in the first place.

As an employer – how mindful are you of not, unknowingly, burning out your employees?

During 2021, many health experts (psychologists, counsellors, and the like), warned us of a mental health tsunami about to hit many of our workforces.

Well, it apparently seems to have hit in the form of The Great Slump (employee burnout).

Employers who dismiss the phenomenon of The Great Slump (let alone The Great Resignation), stand to potentially face a tidal wave of employee’s exiting their workplace.

Speak to any recruitment specialist and they will tell you there are presently more job vacancies than there are candidates to fill them.

What happens if an employee is burnt out?

When an employee suffering from burnout is cared for proactively, they may be able to overcome this and return to normal work.

As employers, if we’re vigilant and take positive action early/quickly, with a focus on self-care and other interventions designed to reduce their stress (e.g. taking leave, temporary reductions in workload or responsibilities, assistance with better prioritising/delegating work, better work/life balance etc), we can help our employees deal with, come to grips with and, ultimately overcome issues relating to the stress of burn out.

So, what happens when an employee is experiencing symptoms of burn out?

Some outcomes include;

  • The employee may require extended sick leave and may struggle to return to work due to being so emotionally and/or physically drained.
  • They could become so detached or disengaged in their work (and company), that they choose to resign.
  • To add salt to their wounds, their performance could drop to an extent where a performance management or disciplinary process becomes necessary – which would adversely affect any external customer interactions (for front line facing employees).
  • General absenteeism & poor morale – affecting productivity.
  • And in some serious cases, clinical depression and risks to physical health arising from stress – which would bring on further issues for an employer.

How can employers support employees suffering from burn out?

While there are many initiatives and actions that an employee suffering from burn out can take on their own to help, it’s also incumbent upon us, as employers, to proactively recognise the symptoms and do something tangible.

And here’s the thing – employers may not be required to take extra-ordinary steps – rather, just be humane when working with an employee who  is suffering from burn out.

So, as employers, what can you do as a minimum, to help your employees?

This is one of those areas where a laundry list of actions may not work – rather, it’s a case by case basis – after all, we’re working with human beings!

Have a supportive and honest R U OK? conversation with your employee.

Work with your employee to come up with plan of positive action, that they feel comfortable with, to get assistance (e.g. speak to their GP or employee assistance program, temporary reduction in workload, assistance with delegating/prioritising etc).

If a medical or mental health practitioner advises that the employee is not fully fit for their role, provide reasonable flexibility in terms of duties or hours of work, as recommended by the medical/mental health practitioner (of course considering the company’s operational and financial circumstances).

Sometimes, the scope of dealing with an exhausted and burnt-out employee could be beyond that of the employer, in which case, outside help may be required.

Again a reminder that it’s much more costly to recruit a new employee, than it is to hold on to your talented ones.

At Recruitment Australia, we have access to resources to help you to help your employees who may be suffering from burn-out.  Contact us on +61 2 9634 5912.