Leadership – know the signs and causes of employee burnout


67% of employees sometimes or often feel burnt out while at work. If knowledge is power, this is a helpful (yet confronting) piece of information for your leadership to consider.

Sufferers of burnout often describe feeling exhausted and disconnected. They often report feeling emotionally fatigued with a loss of empathy towards clients, and feeling incompetent and inept at work (The Black Dog Institute).

Burnout can be caused from a number of factors. A recent survey by BambooHR reveals there are currently three circumstances which contribute to employees feeling burnt out the most.

The first is unfair treatment in the workplace.  Employees who report that they are often treated unfairly by their leadership at work are 2 times more likely to experience burnout. As inequitable workplaces are often unhealthy environments to spend time in, this poor culture typically results in underperformance.

The second factor is an unmanageable workload. Employees who don’t have enough working hours to complete their work in begin to burn out quickly. As the employee struggles to keep up,  it often leads to damaged confidence and acts as a demotivator for higher performance.

Lastly, unclear roles can lead to burnout. Bamboo HR found that 40% of employees don’t know what is expected of them at work. There are a wide range of work situations which can create such role confusion. For example, often when an employee begins  a new job there is a period of settling in. If the role responsibilities are not made clear at the start it can lead to greater confusion than necessary, a lengthier training period and/or turnover. Lack of role clarity can also lead to tension and conflict between team members. This particularly occurs where two team members are under the assumption that a particular responsibility is their own.

What can your leadership do to reduce burnout?

Leadership roles can take active steps to improve performance while preventing employee burnout. We all feel worn out at times but employees who feel supported by their managers are much less likely to regularly burnout compared to those who don’t feel supported by their managers. Therefore leading with a strong heart and fair hand is the key.

Similarly, employees who feel they often or always have enough time to do their work are much less likely to experience burnout. It’s important to point out that it’s not about setting the performance bar lower for your workplace to avoid burnout situations. It is about hitting a nice balance between performance goals and the ability to achieve them.  Realistic timelines result in employees producing a much higher quality of performance.

Communicating with employees about performance expectations on a regular basis so that they understand and can own their performance results can result in higher performance and more satisfaction. In fact, employees who believe their performance metrics are within their own control are about half less likely to experience burnout.

In summary, leaders who offer fair and supportive workplaces with clear direction are more likely to create teams which are healthy in the longer term and engaged. Industryus HR offer practical leadership workshop sessions on a number of key topics, delivered classroom style. For more information about our practical workshops click here, or call 07 5655 4047.

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