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Avoiding Employee Burnout In the Workplace

The past year had a significant impact on how and where people work. With the increase of jobs going remote, the lines between work and home are becoming more blurred. But what impact does this have on employee burnout in the workplace?

How do we ensure that 2021 is a better year than the last, while ensuring employees are both productive, healthy, and fulfilled?

What is Employee Burnout?

Burnout may seem like a casual term used in the workplace but it has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a reason that people contact health services. Although the WHO does not classify burnout as a medical condition, it does define burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The three main dimensions of burnout are:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or negative feelings toward one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.

If this sounds familiar, read on.

What Can Employers Can Do to Prevent Burnout?

One thing that employers can immediately do is to discuss burnout openly in the workplace. Not only will this decrease the stigma surrounding burnout, but it will also demonstrate how common it really is. Communication is critical.

If you are operating a remote workplace, check in with all of your employees about whether they are experiencing symptoms of burnout. Burnout can manifest differently for each person. While some employees may display changes in their behaviour or emotions, others may not display any signs at all. So make sure you check in with everyone, and also use these check-ins as an opportunity to recognize employee contributions and appreciate their work.

Another major aspect of work that has changed is the social interaction. Staff are encouraged to keep distance from one another at the workplace, while those working from home are limited to connection through technology.

Take stock of how the lack of social interaction is impacting young or new employees. Many may be seeking mentorship or experiencing isolation as it is tough to develop relationships with their colleagues remotely. Whether there are new employees or not, it may be a good idea to create spaces for virtual check-in and friendly catch-ups. Such informal interactions go a long way in maintaining a well-functioning team.

If you believe that there are one or more employees experiencing symptoms of burnout, offer them support. This goes beyond suggesting they take a day off. It means sharing available resources and working with the employee if s/he desires.

There is no set time on how long the feelings of burnout may last. Some employers may find that they need to expand the supports and programs they offer to employees. If this is what you are thinking, consider asking for input from your employees.

What Can Employees Do to Avoid Burnout?

If you are an employee beginning to feel the symptoms of burnout, try to explore the root causes. For example, have you blurred the line between work and home? Are you always “online” because of technology like smartphones?

If working from home is your “new normal”, consider creating a designated space in your home for work. When you are away from that space, avoid checking emails or fixating on work problems.

Although “unplugging” is often easier said than done, there are little things one can do to create boundaries between work and home. Something as simple as having a routine when you start the work day and when you end it may help to create that separation in your day.

If you are experiencing prolonged stress or mental exhaustion relating to work, it could also be time to reassess your goals. With all that has occurred, the same goals and targets you are accustomed to meeting may no longer be reasonable or even applicable. Consider meeting with your supervisors to discuss your feelings of burnout, and whether a revaluation of your goals is a workable solution.

Lastly, it is important to focus on self-care. That is, get enough sleep, stay hydrated, exercise, connect with family and friends, and do whatever else it is that helps you reconnect with who you are outside of work.

Contact Us

If you are an employer or an employee, and need assistance with any issues pertaining to the workplace, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with same day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.