Burn out in the workplace can be a mystery, especially if you work remotely. It’s easy for us to only see snapshots of each other’s lives and assume that everything’s fine. While working remotely has so many benefits for both the employer and the employee, there are also additional responsibilities such as understanding your employees’ mental health in a way that is much more involved compared to working in the office.
In our last post, we talked about ways to identify mental burnout at work. It’s not just something that affects the quality of the employee’s work, it affects their entire being. Burnout goes well beyond the keyboard, and can hurt employee’s personal lives, including the relationship with their spouses and children. It’s so important as employers that we understand the effects of burnout and how we can help reverse what we see.
Here are a few ways to help combat burn out in your workplace that can easily be put into place starting today.
Increase employee/manager check-in frequency
Many employees experiencing burnout often say the root cause is that their workload is beyond the capacity that they can handle.
It is excellent to get a lot out of your employees and leave them feeling valued. However, it’s important to also understand that putting an employee under that much pressure can easily diminish their connection to their work and their satisfaction in their jobs.
Some employees can handle the pressure for years before they break, other employees only a few months. But the issue is not with the employee in these cases, it’s with the employer.
If your business model requires unsustainable workloads on each employee, it’s not stable. It’s important to understand what you ask of your employees and to check in frequently to ensure that the amount of work you are requiring of them is not unachievable. It’s easy to get this lost in the mix if you’re not doing frequent check-ins.
This is a big reason why we at Kin are against annual reviews and promote more frequent check-ins with team members. By having these monthly or quarterly check-in times, it’s much easier to catch someone being overworked and correct the issue versus waiting each year to watch their performance decrease.
Lessen the workload, but don’t remove it entirely
Identifying burnout or being overworked is one thing, aiding an employee in the ability to recover from it is another. Very rarely does the same workplace that contributed to burnout allow for recovery. You can change the course and make it happen. Here’s how.
Once you’ve identified burnout, it’s important to put a plan in place to remedy it for that employee. Overworking is one key cause of burnout, but others include being given tasks that are outside of the employee’s ability, feeling like values are mismatched. They may also have a lack of sense of community, or feel as though they are given goals that are unrealistic based on the employee’s resources.
Identifying the reason behind burnout is key. If the employee is overworked, the employer should understand this employee likely took on a large workload at first to feel valued and helpful. Removing all work from them now would make the employee feel devalued and as if they’ve failed.
Instead, begin by sitting with the employee to discuss what’s on their plate. Are there two or three large items that you could immediately remove so that the employee can focus on completing the other tasks? Remember, this conversation is about understanding. It’s not about blaming.
In addition to removing some, but not all, tasks, it’s important to understand the workload in total. Are there some things that are on your employee’s plate that are just not achievable? Having big goals are great. Having unachievable goals creates burnout. Be realistic when we creating objectives and key results with employees – could you achieve it with the same resources that this employee has? If you have hesitancy saying yes, it’s time to readjust the goal.
This is especially true as we go into a new post-pandemic season, where we feel there is a need to make up for lost time.
Allow employees to safely step back
Burnout can sometimes require time away from what’s burning you out in the first place. But with 62% percent of American employees scared to take time away from their work for a mental health reset day, this can be easier said than done.
Each case is unique and should be treated as such, but giving employees time outside of work to recollect and recharge is important. It’s even more important in the midst of burnout.
Consider offering mental health days as part of your paid time off plan, or at least covering that PTO can be used for days to reset and recharge. By setting a precedent that mental health is valued by your organization, your employees will prioritize it, too.
We’ve experienced burnout at Kin, too. No one is untouchable. Here’s our owner’s own experience with burnout.