Employee burnout is the Boogey Man that haunts today’s employers, who spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars cultivating key members of their team. Burned-out employees, unable to perform, cost companies far more than that in lost productivity, damaged reputation and high employee turnover as companies once again have to train new employees.
When you’re talking about employee burnout an ounce of prevention is DEFINITELY worth a pound of cure! The question then becomes, what causes burnout? And how do you stop it before it gets started?
What Causes Burnout?
Ask 10 psychiatrists what causes employee burnout and you’re going to get 10 different answers. Why? Because there is no single, driving cause behind burnout. The situation is always unique to the individual. They may feel they’re unappreciated. They may be working under more stress than they can handle. The job may not be challenging enough, or it’s too challenging. They may not feel their salary is commensurate with their experience, responsibilities, etc. Whatever the reason, eventually they disengage from the company, performing by rote (if they’re performing at all).
How to Prevent Burnout
The single most important step in preventing employee burnout is to get to know your employees. Take the time to engage with them often. Discover what makes them tick. Once you have a good idea what motivates your employees you’ll have the ammunition you need to stop burnout in its tracks.
For a model of what you need to do to prevent burnout, take a look at companies that have a notoriously low employee turnover. You’ll discover that they go out of their way to open the door to two-way communication with their employees. They have created and implemented a consistent system to recognize and reward exemplary performance and to encourage participation in external projects. Employees are regularly evaluated and matched with duties and responsibilities that match their abilities and education.
When you have exemplary performers on your team it’s tempting to consistently turn to them when there’s a job to be done. Be very careful you don’t end up weighing them down with more work than their schedules allow. Helping your employees balance their work and home life, acknowledging their contributions and ensuring that they realize they’re a valued member of your team and not mindless drones will go a long way toward helping you prevent employee burnout-and all the hassle, aggravation, lost productivity and expense that goes with it.