Over the last few years, the world as we know it completely changed. We have gone through a global pandemic, stay-at-home orders, fear and uncertainty, unimaginable losses, and so much more. The silver lining of all this hardship is that we were given an opportunity to pause and reflect on what really matters to us. Now more than ever, we are prioritizing mental health and a need for work-life balance, and it’s long overdue.
As a result of all this reflection, there has been a huge uptick in mental health-related buzzwords and phrases. Of the most common ones we are hearing is ‘job burnout.’ So, what exactly is job burnout? It’s a type of stress-related specifically to work. It usually entails a loss of self-identity, physical and emotional exhaustion, and a lack of feeling accomplished. This can lead to an inability to perform your basic job duties and can lead to resentment.
Where does job burnout begin?
Those who suffer from job burnout are your employees, but what if we told you that you, as the team leader, are responsible for addressing it? Some of the many reasons cited for job burnout are:
Lack of control – employees can’t set their own schedules, workloads, assignments, etc.
Unclear job expectations - employees are unsure about how much autonomy they have, or they don’t know what their supervisors expect from them.
Dysfunctional workplace dynamics – employees who feel undermined or have a lack of comradery/team players
Extremes of activity – employees feel overly stimulated or are working in chaotic environments
Work/life imbalance – employees who have little time for their personal lives begin to resent their jobs
This list demonstrates that when we get right down to it, the workplace environment we, the leaders, have created is to blame.
What can employers to do address job burnout?
The first step is admitting you have a problem. Understanding that your employees aren’t feeling fully supported and are getting burned out and that the workplace environment needs to change is the most important thing you can do. Next, make an actionable plan.
1. Identify Purpose
Work with your employees so they can understand the purpose of their specific role in the company. Can you demonstrate how their work ties into the company’s core values and beliefs? Can you show them a quantifiable outcome that they have contributed to? Creating an emotional connection between your team and your company helps to foster a greater sense of meaning. Clearly identifying each person’s role also helps to provide autonomy, minimize confusion about job responsibilities, and gives your employee a greater sense of control.
2. Provide Recovery time
The days of glorifying an overly packed schedule and workload have come and gone. Now, your employees need balance and time to rest and reset. Encourage your team to take PTO, longer lunch breaks, or take a midday yoga class. If someone on your team has just finished a huge project, allow them extra time to take a break and reset and recenter. Meeting with team leads or employees one on one on a weekly or biweekly basis in order to assess workloads is a great way to stay ahead of the game and be proactive instead of reactive.
3. Create a well-being centered work environment
Creating an office culture that openly accepts and discusses mental wellness is imperative. Let your employees set their own boundaries by helping them to learn their work limits and manage their stress and feelings. Identifying the difference between acute stress and chronic stress will play a key role in fostering a wellness-focused environment too. This also ties back into recovery time. Did they just have an extremely stressful project wrap-up? Let them leave early that day or come in late the following day. Allowing for ebbs and flows will create a healthier overall environment.
Job burnout is very real. The great news is that when you understand what causes it, you can take action as a leader to help prevent it. By focusing on your employees well-being and offering the proper support and guidance for your team, you can prevent burnout from happening, which allows for your entire organization to prosper.