Consulting Services • Published 12/10/2021 Strategies to Alleviate Burnout: How Employee Health Translates to Business Wealth
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In today’s increasingly-competitive business environment, organizations are under pressure to outperform the competition while delivering unmatched products and services. Aggressive production goals set an expectation that employees consistently expedite an unsustainable workload within ever-tighter deadlines. Demands to perform better and faster may appear to be the pathway to success, but this cutthroat approach tends to do more harm than good. According to a survey conducted by Indeed.com, 52% of respondents reported feeling “burned out,” and 67% of the respondents indicated that their burnout has worsened over the course of the pandemic.

So, what does employee burnout mean for an organization’s financial success?

Workplace stressors and the consequences of burnout

Before we explore the influence that burnout has on productivity, it’s important to identify the causes and symptoms of burnout. Work-related stress can cause emotional exhaustion, reduced accomplishment, a loss of personal identity, and more. There are countless stressors that contribute to workplace burnout, but some of the most commonly-reported pressures include:

  • Lack of control: Immense workload, an unmanageable schedule, or a lack of resources can contribute to staff feeling overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion.
  • Unclear job expectations: Employees may feel inadequate or incapable of accomplishing organizational goals when job expectations are poorly communicated or are constantly shifting.
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics: Unchecked office bullies, undermining colleagues, and micromanaging bosses often result in tension and frustration among staff members.  
  • Work-life imbalance: Mental health declines when family life and hobbies are constantly interrupted or sidelined because of job priorities.

These burnout triggers are challenging enough on their own, but the COVID-19 pandemic compounded and exacerbated common stressors. Pandemic impacts and health protocols have resulted in pay cuts, diminished client bases, and reduced staffing, yet employees are often expected to meet the same (or higher) production metrics. The consequences of COVID-19, including the added strain of isolation during quarantine, have resulted in unprecedented reports of employee burnout in the workplace.

As employee exhaustion increases, so do accounts of declining mental health, decreased drive and motivation, low energy and productivity, and heightened irritability with colleagues and clients. Left unchecked, isolated incidents of burnout may spread company-wide with large-scale impacts. Stress, anxiety, and frustration are contagious; humans have a tendency to pick up on and mimic emotions. Rehabilitating a workplace infected by burnout can be arduous, so it’s critical that leaders take proactive, meaningful steps to improve organizational culture as soon as burnout is identified.  

Change management strategies to foster a healthy work environment

Change management is the application of a structured process and resources to lead the ”people side” of change, with the goal of achieving a desired outcome. The change management framework calls for a customized plan that’s tailored to fit the needs of the staff and organization as a whole. When evaluating your workplace culture initiatives, pay close attention to leadership, mentorship, and training. These facets help develop a team that can effectively engage, adopt, and use solutions provided to them.

If your business is ready to foster a healthier work environment, these best practices can enhance your action plan and maximize results:

  • Define the desired outcome: A healthy workplace should have the following characteristics:
    • An environment where open and honest communication is encouraged.
    • Compassionate team members that are committed to cooperation, support, and empowerment.
    • Positive thinking and values.
    • Opportunities for growth and flexibility.
    • Work-life balance with an emphasis on health and family.
  • Identify what changes are needed: Recognize organizational deficits. Are adequate resources available for your employees? Are the production expectations appropriate? Identify and prioritize the greatest areas of concern.
  • Listen: Give your team a voice. Create opportunities for staff to share their experiences.
  • Clearly communicate change: Be transparent and clear about upcoming changes. Seek feedback to better understand pressure points and areas of concern.
  • Be consistent: Follow through with process improvements communicated to the team.
  • Provide resources: Create reference materials. Deliver training guides. Provide adequate resources for your staff to navigate the change and accomplish goals established by leadership.
  • Provide metrics and goals: Confirm that staff understand production metrics. Your team is more likely to meet or exceed expectations when the goals are clearly defined.
  • Accept feedback and monitor outcomes: Is the implemented change producing the desired results? Conduct regular follow-up meetings with your staff to gauge necessary process improvements.

Productivity in a healthy work environment

A healthy work culture produces more than satisfied staff with positive attitudes; healthy work culture produces healthy employees.

Why is this relevant for leadership?  Statistics show that healthier staff are more likely to be productive, present, and engaged. According to the CDC, common trends in organizations with a healthy environment include:   

  • Fewer sick days or unexpected use of vacation time due to illness.
  • A greater percentage of employees at work every day.
  • A healthier family unit. Because employee health frequently carries over into better health behaviors that impact both the employee and their family (such as nutritious meals cooked at home or increased physical activity as a family), employees may miss less work caring for ill family members.
  • Similarly, workplace health programs can reduce “presenteeism” — the measurable extent to which health symptoms, conditions, and diseases adversely affect the work productivity of individuals who choose to remain at work.

The CDC also reports that the cost savings of providing a workplace health program can be measured against absenteeism among employees, reduced overtime to cover absent employees, and costs to train replacement employees.

Is it time for a change?

There is overwhelming evidence to support a direct correlation between employee health and organizational success. If your company isn’t achieving its production goals, it may be time to evaluate the overall wellness of your staff. Contact us for help identifying opportunities to mitigate employee burnout and implementing key changes that can benefit the organization as a whole.

Remember - investing in your team’s health may be the key to your business’s wealth.  

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