After dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its challenges—including increased workloads—for a couple of years, more organizations are seeing unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety and burnout, according to forbes.com.
Research from global staffing firm Robert Half shows 91% of employees feel at least somewhat burned out, which is defined as mentally and physically exhausted from work. A Gallup survey reports employees who report being burned out are 63% more likely to take sick time and 2.6 times as likely to leave their current employer.
Leaders must understand that constantly demanding more work in less time will lead to employee frustration, anger, anxiety and burnout. Following are ways to help prevent employee burnout.
- Balance workloads. Workloads must be well-balanced among team members so they do not become overwhelmed. Before reallocating work and assigning tasks, take time to think critically about who is swamped, employee motivations, priorities and who needs an opportunity to develop. Work diligently to ensure no one person constantly is overloaded.
- Rotate people. If possible for their business, leaders should consider having a schedule to rotate people out of high-load, high-stress jobs into lower-stress ones. Everyone needs a break, and rotating jobs can prevent burnout and be an opportunity for people to work in areas where they may not normally be assigned.
- Closely monitor progress. Check in frequently with team members about how they are doing—as a group and individually. Team members can share challenges and work together to find solutions. Examples of questions to ask during check-ins include: Do you feel you can complete the project by deadline without having to work unreasonable hours? Is there anyone else on the team who could help so you could meet the deadline? Is there any part of this project that might be delayed? Do you need additional training or resources to be successful? What have you learned that we might do differently next time we face a task like this?
- Help people prioritize. Employees often are left to figure out how to prioritize their work, and that can accelerate burnout. A quick prioritization discussion with a supervisor can help. For example, each morning, supervisors can ask employees what tasks they have that day and help them organize and prioritize the tasks.