Burnout is a state of prolonged mental and physical exhaustion due to work-related stress. While it can start with an individual, burnout can spread through teams and have a significant impact on business productivity, culture and growth.
In recent years, burnout has become a growing concern. In fact, in 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) added burnout to its list of occupational hazards. In the same year, Australia spent over $34 billion on burnout-related incidents.
With the fallout of a global pandemic, burnout is more prominent than ever and it’s something your culture can help avoid.
However, first of all, do you know what burnout looks like – in yourself or in your employees?
It could look like:
- Mental, physical and emotional exhaustion
- Non-usual mood changes and purposeful isolation
- Increases in mistakes, forgetfulness, accidents and missing days
- Lower engagement levels
- More unfinished tasks or much slower productivity
Burnout presents differently for everyone but in general, a negative shift or change to usual habits is a sign that something may be wrong.
If you think you or your employees might be experiencing burnout, there are a few things you can do.
Here are four examples of what might cause burnout and how to avoid them in the first place.
While some of us are drawn to repetition because of its ease and simplicity, repetition is mentally and physically draining. Doing the same thing everyday perpetuates exhaustion and leads to other work-related stresses.
And whilst research shows that 40% of our daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations, it’s important to create some differentiation and novelty to keep us going. Our brains need stimulation and challenge to keep us happy and productive.
How to avoid: Add something fresh into the mix every now and then. Investigate cross-position or department collaboration to expand your employees’ circles and duties. Group projects are a great way to slash through repetitive tasks.
Schedule a chat to figure out what excites the individual and work together to add that challenge or a creative outlet into their work in a way that is still productive.
No employee recognition or feedback
In a workplace, validation and recognition is critical. Knowing you’re on the right track or that your company values your contribution inspires and motivates people to work harder and smarter. Without feedback or constructive conversations, employees flounder and think “what’s the point, no one cares”. This negative self-talk increases the likelihood of burnout.
How to avoid: Schedule regular formal and informal feedback sessions or check-ins that follow the 8 to 1 rule. This rule suggests eight pieces of positive feedback to one piece of constructive to reinforce and recognise good work before focusing on what may need to be worked on.
Look into a reward or new recognition system. Some companies have “employee of the month” or a free breakfast when they close a client. These systems should be personalised to your team and consistent throughout the year.
Poor work-life balance
It’s okay if work follows us home every once in a while but consistently blurring the line between work and home time is one of the main causes of burnout.
Creating space and time to switch off gives the brain a chance to relax, re-evaluate and get rejuvenated to tackle the next day. The demands of working from home meant nearly four in five Aussies suffered from burnout in 2020.
Now more than ever, this balance is critical but it is also more difficult to achieve in such uncertain times.
How to avoid: Whether it’s personally or company-set, create no-contact hours so you can actively switch off. The mentality of knowing nothing will demand your attention in that time will help to relax and create some separation between you and work.
Help your team create a designated WFH space so when they turn off the light, it’s like leaving the office and they can have some personal time.
Lockdowns are never good for work-life balance and burnout. Try to check-in about time management and start some group activities to do online to ensure people have lunch breaks or social time.
Toxic managers, co-workers or atmosphere
On average, Australians spend upwards of 38 hours a week at work with their co-workers. Sometimes personalities, work styles, goals and lifestyles will create conflict. Tension or poor culture in an office is detrimental to productivity and wellbeing.
It might be one person, a group or indeed the whole company could be struggling with its culture. This has the potential to cause burnout on a much larger scale.
How to avoid: Create some open communication channels. The more you know and understand about the culture, the more likely you are to create meaningful changes to support your team. Team bonds, changes to your leadership styles or defining your goals might all need to be addressed.
It might be worth investigating expert consultants and bespoke programs that are designed to completely transform your business culture guided by your vision and values.
At The Culture Equation, we’ve helped several businesses transform their culture, teams and leadership. If you’d like a 30-min Free No-Obligation Consultation, we’d love to have a chat with you