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How to avoid employee burnout and increase productivity

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Burnout can leave employees feeling exhausted, unmotivated, anxious, irritable, overwhelmed, and underperforming at work. Some people with burnout experience physical symptoms such as insomnia, stomach aches, and headaches. Ignoring burnout can further damage physical and mental health as uncontrolled stress leads to anxiety and depression. These symptoms can affect all areas of life.

Unfortunately, burnout seems to be on the rise. According to a YouGov poll, about 46% of workers feel they are "more likely to be exposed to extreme levels of stress than they were in March 2020." The pandemic seems to have had a lot of impact on people's energy, motivation, and stress levels.

Working from home and hybrid working options have started to put more pressure on employees to have to constantly make adjustments to their comfort zones and social energy. Having to work long hours is also another reason for being burned out. Not being appreciated at work, constantly having to work overtime with no real reward, having to deal with the same kind of work every day with no changes or new opportunities, and feelings of not being heard by the employers can all be causes for employee burnout.

A machine, for example, also needs downtime for maintenance, and so do the employees.

Encouraging employees – to include mindfulness/meditation and other relaxing techniques, taking breaks every 90 minutes Having a session with the employees to encourage them to inculcate productive and healthy life habits such as getting enough sleep, exercising, stretching between work sessions, hydration, and food. Using HR to listen to the employee’s concerns about company culture and what they wish could change, making them feel that they are valued and appreciated is another sure way of ensuring emotional connection with the employees. Of course, making necessary and feasible changes is also needed. Trying to find innovative, different approaches to management and company culture can improve diversity, allowing for a good change. Encouraging employees to use their vacation time

Work-Life Balance is another major part of how employees feel burned out. Working non-stop, overtime without caring about other aspects of his/her life, disregarding life altogether since work is the only thing in their mind – being a workaholic, not paying attention to their mental and emotional well-being can lead to major feelings of burnout.

In Japan, where the work culture is all about working hard, overtime, pleasing the boss, and so on, there have been cases where employees have lost their lives while working overtime and for long hours non-stop. Recently, they have been trying to bring change to this dire situation by encouraging employees to leave early and catering to the employees personally and emotionally.

As mentioned before, having to do the same repetitive tasks every day can be exhausting and boring and hence lead to burnout. Giving them exposure to try and do different types of work can help them feel motivated, allowing them to widen their knowledge and skills, and also give them a way to discover something new that they never thought they would be good at.

Trying to give everyone projects that have shorter-term deliverables and are not open-ended will reassure them that they are being productive and feel fulfilled in what they do. Encouraging collaboration with each other in the company can improve socializing.

Morale issues in the workplace also contribute to the causes of feeling burned out. Negative feelings that result from the company’s bad decisions, discrimination, office politics, and lack of communication can all lead to feeling burnt out. Addressing these issues is one of the keys to efficiently reducing such discrepancies in the workplace. Understanding that employees spend one-third of the day working for the company, keeping aside family time and personal commitments is important. Acknowledging this, making changes to the company culture, and addressing these through HR is a way to reduce employee burnout.

How do we increase productivity and decrease burnout?

In a work-from-home setting, an employee can feel disconnected from the company, co-workers, and even work purposes while working from home. Encourage the exchange of ideas and feedback to give them a sense of ownership and purpose in their work. Keeping meetings to a minimum, especially the video ones, can help, as this can also lead to fatigue and exhaustion trying to manage work virtually and also in real life. Respecting work-life boundaries; Some employees who work from home believe that life revolves around the job and that it is difficult to stay connected. Helping employees distinguish between work and home is key to preventing them from experiencing burnout. Scheduling emails to avoid contacting them outside of business hours and encouraging them to sign out at a reasonable time will help in hybrid, work from home and also work from office situations. Encourage employees to care about their well-being and make it so that they don’t get too hooked on just a job and be able to have time off for other important things to do, such as for family, personal commitments, childcare, etc. When it comes to particular work from the office, the breaks, vacations, working from home, company outings, or whatever a survey comes up with on what makes the employee satisfied or happy. You may also need to check if you may need to add more employees so they don't get overworked. Fitting employees into their areas of expertise and interests. Making sure all the resources needed for the business are provided to their employees.

There are no emergencies in business. Employees should be encouraged to disconnect after work hours and be rest assured that it’s fine to disconnect completely if possible. For example, federal workers in Belgium are legally given the right to ignore after-hours work-related calls and emails as the country's 'right to disconnect' law came into effect recently in February this year, calling stress and burnout a disease.

The things that feel existential and urgent can wait until tomorrow, and we often handle them better than that.

Block time for workouts, family time, and hobbies in your calendar. Making your team do the same is also another way that integrates both life and work.

Discovering automation possibilities in the workflow is also another way productivity can be boosted, and hence it reduces stress and workload. Using and staying up to date on new trends and technologies, as well as implementing them, allows employees to devote more time to other important aspects of a task or project.

Mainly, it’s about treating the employees as real people and not just work machines. They need their due rest and maintenance downtime, and also consideration of their time and actual life. Focusing on their skills and interests - assigning them tasks and projects while also keeping in mind the tendency of not balancing life and work - is critical, as is making changes and encouraging them accordingly. Emotional, mental, and physical well-being are so important and require due attention. A company should be able to take care of their employees as much as they want productivity to sprout out. Company culture shouldn’t just be about work but also about how a home away from home can be created for its employees.

We help with building efficiencies via automation as part of our Technology Consulting services. Automation helps prevent the workforce from a repetition of mundane tasks at work. Our world is dynamic, and our business processes can more successfully adopt new technologies to automate and streamline processes. Companies achieve true productivity when the best technology practices are properly planned and implemented. We believe in improving our customer experience with enhanced tools and service.

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