Why HR Needs To Help Employees Avoid Burnout
Avoiding employee burnout has always been a topic of concern for Human Resources (HR) professionals. After all, employee burnout is a bad look for both HR and an organization as a whole. If HR is not adept at spotting the signs that lead to employee burnout, then how will they ever be able to prevent or stop employee burnout?
HR in any business or organization needs to develop a system to spot the earliest signs of employee burnout. Once HR notices the beginning stages of employee burnout, they need to step in and counsel company leadership about the consequences of the path that they are on. HR has to educate management about the financial impact of employee burnout. Employee burnout contributes to lower productivity and poor employee retention. Both these things end up costing a company more in the long run.
Avoiding employee burnout will be a win-win situation for both the employee and the employer. Employees will be happier and quit less often. Employers will enjoy steady productivity. They will also reduce the costs that come along with hiring and training new employees. Imagine the costs that come along with hiring new employees for the same positions too often. You do not want to be paying to train your competitors’ future employees.
Get Regular Feedback
HR must get feedback from employees and their supervisors about work performance and the general work environment throughout the year. Regardless of whether employees work remotely or on-site, HR can easily send out surveys to take the pulse of their workforce.
Send out monthly surveys to both managers and employees. Ask both managers and employees the same questions about their work environment. Ask managers for their opinions on individual employees. Ask every employee about their direct supervisors, department heads, and management in general. If both parties cite problems or similar issues, then you know there is a problem that needs to be taken care of. If both parties have divergent opinions on the same topics then again you have issues to take care of.
When you notice that managers or employees or both parties have issues or concerns, then formulate a plan to get to the heart of the issue, and solve the problem. A manager might mistakenly think that a high-performing employee is doing well at work when that employee might be feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities. Maybe that employee is not very vocal or not the type to complain. Maybe nobody asked this employee about their workload or work environment. You can detect this type of problem when you send out regular surveys for feedback. Talk to the employee, their supervisor, and the department manager. Redistributing duties or hiring part-time or temporary help may solve this problem before it gets out of hand.
It is quite common to hear that some employees shoulder more work than their peers at work. Bosses love to give more work to employees who get the work done. Bosses rarely pressure or push underperformers. It is not fair to overload some workers over others. It breeds resentment towards peers and management. So ask about these issues in your surveys. When an employee speaks up about unfair work distribution, look into the matter. Talk to the employee who brings up this issue. Address this matter with direct supervisors and department managers.
Is there a disparity or gap in skills among employees with the same description? Or is a supervisor or manager simply unaware of how they are distributing work? Is it a lack of consequences for underperformers that is the root of the problem? Or is it simply easier for managers to overload some employees so that they do not have to deal with pushing underperforming employees?
HR can track employee productivity by installing time-tracking programs into the devices employees use to work. Time-tracking tools are useful for determining employee productivity for all types of workers. So whether employees work on-site, remotely, or are traveling workers, HR can track individual productivity. Redistributing work based on productivity data can help HR and management to help employees avoid burnout.
More training and frequent performance reviews of less productive workers can improve productivity within an organization as a whole.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
Businesses and organizations can offer many benefits and perks. However, what is the point of having perks if you do not have time to use them? For example, sometimes, employees routinely work 10 to 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week. No one can work at this pace without compromising their mental and physical well-being.
HR must stress the importance of work-life balance in the workplace. Even when employees love their jobs, if they work excessively over long periods, they will burn out or become less productive.
Sometimes an employee might be able to work excessive hours without any issues. However, with time they might start having problems with spouses and significant others. This is because they can never carve out time for their spouses or partners. The children of your employees can suffer too. Children need their parents to be present and active in their lives for their wellbeing. Employees might suffer from guilt and become chronically stressed for not being around for their children. Single and childless employees who work excessively might suffer from immense loneliness and depression because they never have time to cultivate personal relationships outside of work.
The physical health of employees who never have time to cook healthy meals or exercise can also deteriorate steadily. Sometimes employees get so tied up with work that they do not go for medical checkups.
Unhappiness in personal relations, depression stemming from loneliness, and poor physical health will contribute to decreased productivity and employee burnout at work. HR must regularly communicate to both managers and leaders about the importance of work-life balance. Managers and leaders must be encouraged to set a good example for employees.
When leaders work excessive hours, then it sends a subliminal message to employees that they must work excessive hours too. Of course, employees might have to put in extra hours at work from time to time. However, chronic overwork leads to many long-term problems.
HR can help institute useful benefits such as nutritional counseling and on-site or regular health checkups. They can set up employee health competitions. For example, rewarding those who exercise regularly. Or rewarding those who make time to prepare healthy meals at home. Employees can log exercise hours and or other healthful habits to take part in competitions. This can encourage others at work to participate in healthier habits.
HR can help to design a flexible work schedule for employees to achieve work-life balance. If possible, then offer hybrid or remote work options to employees. Flexible shift start and end times can reduce stress for employees. Another thing HR can do is communicate with the management team to help outsource some of their tasks. Hybrid and remote work options also help employees to strike a balance between their family and work responsibilities.
HR must stress the importance of not bombarding employees and coworkers with work-related communications after hours. Sending emails or expecting employees to respond to work-related communications when they have finished working the day blurs the line between home and work. It sets employees up for burnout. Only contact others or expect them to respond during their normal working hours. Unless there is an emergency or a sudden problem that has to be addressed right away, everything and everyone can wait till the next work shift to tackle work-related tasks.
HR can work with management to develop policies that discourage disturbing employees during non-work hours. Once policies are developed, HR must regularly remind all workers, departments, and managers to communicate to each other about work-related matters during work hours only. Sometimes, friendly and regular reminders are all that people need to honor workplace rules and policies.
Reduce Work-Related Injuries
When employees work punishing hours for extended periods of time, their chances of sustaining injuries through both repetitive work strain and accidents rise significantly. Injuries can cause reduced work output or lead to eventual employee burnout. Paying for workers’ compensation claims can be a huge cost for employers. Paying for medical treatment, paying wages to an injured employee who cannot work, and hiring extra help to carry the workload of the injured employee are burdensome costs. Plus, you might also owe the employee a settlement and have to pay for future treatments even when they are no longer your employee.
HR can help employees avoid burnout by enforcing safe and ergonomic work practices. The importance of stretching and taking timely breaks cannot be overstated. Healthy workloads are a part of a safe work environment. HR has to question themselves and management about the workload they are pushing on employees. Are their expectations actually designed to hurt and injure employees? HR and management must take responsibility for providing safe and healthy work conditions for their employees. HR and management cannot just pay lip service to these topics.
Balanced workloads reduce on-the-job injuries and maintain steady productivity at a business or organization. Balanced workloads also reduce the cost of paying for workers’ compensation claims. They also help to minimize increases in workers’ compensation premiums. Most of all balanced workloads help high-performing employees remain on the job or remain with the company longer. There is no slow burnout that affects productivity or sudden burnout that causes employees to quit suddenly. Lack of fatigue also helps to reduce accidents at work. Fatigue can contribute to a dip in productivity too.
Improve Hiring Practices
Sometimes it is not that the workload is excessive but the nature of the employee that contributes to burnout. Or maybe an employee was never explicitly informed about the hours they would have to work to succeed in the job. Therefore, it is important for businesses and organizations to be honest with prospective employees about what is expected from them should they get hired. Some jobs are high-stress jobs by nature. Working in an emergency room and working with tight deadlines are never easy. So HR might need to attract a certain type of candidate to be the right fit for the job. Investing in the right talent acquisition tools will help HR to find suitable candidates for job openings. Selecting a candidate who is mentally and physically prepared to meet the rigors of their new job will definitely help HR in helping that employee to avoid burnout.
Advocate The Use Of Benefits
One of the best ways for HR to help employees avoid burnout is to encourage them to use their benefits. Set an expiration time for benefits to push employees to use them for their own well-being. For example, if you offer 4 sessions of nutritional counseling per year, then inform employees that they can only use 1 session per quarter. This strategy will push employees to get the nutritional counseling they need throughout the year. They will not be cramming 4 sessions of nutritional counseling into a month and then forgetting the advice 3 months down the road.
The use it or lose it type of benefit pushes employees to make use of their benefits. If allowed by state law, then push employees to use their vacation hours every year, or else they will lose those vacation hours the following year. Do not allow for the excessive buildup of vacation hours. This will push employees to take time off and rejuvenate. Ensure that your employee tracking system is up-to-date so that you can check vacation accruals easily. Track employees who do not take time off. Counsel them about the mental and physical benefits of taking some off for their own well-being.
Hiring the right candidate for a job, getting regular feedback about the work environment, and ensuring that everyone has manageable workloads will help HR to help employees avoid burnout at work. HR must be proactive in looking out for the beginning signs of employee burnout. This is the only way to recognize and solve a problem before it gets out of hand. Encouraging management to set an example for their employees by practicing work-life balance themselves is a great way to create a healthy and balanced work culture. Encouraging employees to use their benefits for self-care and relaxation will also help to avoid employee burnout.
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