The word ‘burnout’ has been bandied about a lot in recent years. Mental health at work is becoming a highly talked about issue – and for good reason. Feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion as a result of workplace stress can have real impacts on employee morale, staff retention, productivity and ultimately the profits of your company.
A recent survey by Deloitte found that 77 per cent of respondents experienced employee burnout at their current job, so learning to spot burnout among staff is something that all managers need to take seriously. If you can spot the signs, then you can help alleviate the symptoms and create a happier workplace with a culture that will make your competitors green with envy. With these simple steps, managers can improve their workplace ethos and ensure they get the absolute best out of their employees.
One of the most obvious signs that a member of your team is burnt out is that the quality of their work decreases. It can be easy to assume that when an employee starts missing deadlines and client complaints begin to pile up that they have simply become lazy and they are no longer a fit for your company.
However, as burnout affects the ability to focus, the cause may be more complex than you originally thought. Burnout often also makes sleeping more difficult, which could perhaps leave your team feeling more fatigued and distracted. Especially given the work from home shift, it has become even more difficult to spot problems in your team, but research has found that burnout may have increased by as much as 24 per cent over 2020.
Another symptom of burnout is that you experience more pushback from your employees. Increased workplace cynicism is a textbook sign that something may be wrong in your team. If a previously happy, content employee starts complaining about every little thing at work, falling out with colleagues or otherwise seemingly irritable then there may be an issue. If you see an employee suddenly disinterested in their work or express that what they do has little value, this is a classic consequence of stress.
In order for an organisation to be successful, each of its members has to believe in what they are doing. If they lose faith in the mission of the company, then this will be reflected in their work. This is especially damaging as you are trying to grow and change as a company. Cynical employees will be particularly resistant to change and can often be less open to trying new things, so it’s wise to do your best to prevent these sort of attitudes from developing at your company. A simple way to combat that is to not be cynical yourself. If you show passion for what you do, then your team will follow your lead.
If you work with your employees day in, day out, then you know and understand their personality. If you notice anything different about them, such as employees who would typically never take sick leave suddenly missing many days of work, then it may be time to have a conversation about what you can do to help.
As a manager, it’s your duty to teach yourself about the symptoms of burnout in your team and try your best to reverse them. An easy way to do that is by reading any one of the huge amounts of research publications that organisations like the Mental Health Foundation or Gopal Subramanium‘s Study Centre release.
The best way to stop these attitudes from developing in your team is to take preventative, rather than reactive measures. If you have measures in place that make your team feel valued and the work they do is important, then this won’t be an issue. However, as a manager, it’s always a good idea to be able to spot the symptoms and foster a healthy work environment.