What is Employee Burnout & Tips on Preventing It

Posted: 03.10.2021
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) included burnout in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon.

In this document, the WHO defines burnout as: “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and educed professional efficacy.”

So in this article, we share some tips with you on how you can recognize employee burnout and some steps you can take as an organization to help decrease and prevent employee burnout.

Look for signs of burnout in your employees.
There are a couple of signs to look out for to help you determine whether or not some of your employees feel burnt out:
  • There is a change in their behaviour, for example, they are short in their conversations with you or are starting to make out of character comments.
  • Be aware of what’s going on in their personal lives. With the vast majority of people working from home due to the pandemic, maybe they’re struggling with working from home and caring for their kids, which could be contributing to their burnout.
  • Take note of employees who are “high achievers.” These can be described as staff who are always okay with taking on more work or have a tendency to work later because they are “finishing up one more thing.” Working remotely can put them even more at risk for burnout because they may feel like they have more time to do their work without having to worry about commuting or taking lunch breaks.
Build company culture.
If revenue is your only motivation as an employer, it will show through the attitudes of your employees. Lack of motivation, lack of creativity, burnout – these are all signs your organization needs to build more company culture. There needs to be a balance of both – working hard and carving out some downtime. Why not try scheduling a casual ZOOM meeting with your employees on a Friday afternoon to catch up with one another?

Encourage your employees to take breaks.
It may be harder for employees to carve out breaks during their day or take time off when working from home. Ensure you remind them to:
  • Take a lunch break without working in front of their laptops.
  • Try to not answer emails after working hours.
  • Avoid working on the weekend.
  • Take a mental health day if they need a break.
  • Get fresh air by going on walks outside.
Taking breaks and dedicating time off can help your employees function better and have more clarity while working, decreasing the risk of burnout.

Communicate with your employees.
Communication between your employees is extremely important, especially with everyone working from home. Talking openly with your employees about what works, what doesn’t, whether they need more support, or even just wondering how their day is going can help prevent burnout.
  • Reach out to your employees and ask them how they are coping with working remotely.
  • Ask your employees if they have any concerns or feedback about happenings at the company.
  • Do they feel like there is too much going on? Is there a project or task that can be moved to the backburner if there is?
  • Encourage your employees to reach out to each other.
Click here to watch Marc Belaiche, CPA, CA, President of TorontoJobs.ca discuss this topic.

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