HR professionals and managers who are tuned in to the morale of their team have known this for years. Despite this awareness, years went by before the condition was officially recognized.
In 2019, the World Health Organization declared employee burnout an occupational phenomenon. Official recognition like this is essential to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment and prevent burnout.
Allowing employees to lead themselves to a point where they burn out is a terrible business. At that point, staff may need to take a more extended break. In addition, overall team spirit may suffer, and productivity drops.
What is Burnout?
A few months before the coronavirus pandemic, the WHO declared employee burnout an occupational phenomenon. That means burnout is not an illness or an official mental health condition, but it has become much more than a buzzword that they talk about in HR circles.
Burnout happens when temporary work stress escalates to become a chronic mental health issue. Every employee experiences stress from time to time, when workloads are exceptionally high, team members are off sick, or when private issues reflect on their work-life. This typical type of stress becomes burnout when a few days out no longer relieves the pressure.
Once stress has mounted up to that level, it impairs the employee’s ability to function productively. According to the WHO, there are three defining components of workplace burnout:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from the job or feelings of cynicism/negativism toward the job
- Reduced professional efficacy
Employee burnout worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. Careers site indeed.com regularly surveys professionals about burnout. The researchers found that more than 50% of respondents experienced burnout during the first pandemic. The number increased by 9% compared to the pre-COVID surveys.
Millennials were the age group that was hit hardest. Already burned out before the pandemic, COVID-19 did not give them a reprieve.
Diagnosing Employee Burnout
Once-in-a-lifetime events like the COVID-19 pandemic are highly stressful. Conclusion: there is no way to prepare thoroughly, and having virtually no recent experience to conclude. Dealing with the sudden shift to working from home proved stressful for many employees.
Recognizing burnout in employees is not always easy. Signs like missing deadlines could be coincidental. And at some point, every employee comes in late because of traffic or other everyday issues. A colleague who is in a bad mood can have many reasons.
However, all those signs can also indicate burnout. One thing HR professionals or managers who suspect that a team member is suffering from burnout can do is to take a closer look at the entire team. Ask yourself whether the team’s mood has changed. What is their productivity like? Are workloads assigned evenly, or are some team members consistently working harder than others?
Displaying a lousy mood for a day or so is normal, whereas a consistently hostile atmosphere at work may point toward burnout.
Solutions for Employee Burnout
Finding the Root Cause of Burnout
It is almost impossible to eliminate employee burnout if you are unsure what caused it. The reasons for burnout can vary widely between employees and different situations.
In some cases, workloads are distributed unevenly, leaving select team members with a heavier burden than their colleagues. Others become burned out because their job is repetitive and monotonous.
The best way to identify the root cause of employee burnout in your organization is by asking your team members directly. One-on-one conversations tend to work better than talking in a group setting, as some team members may not want to admit that they are struggling. Avoid making assumptions and approach your colleagues with an open mind and a genuine desire to help.
Setting Boundaries for Yourself
You can only help others if you are in a good place yourself, as a rule of thumb. Managers need to prioritize their own physical and mental well-being if they want to be able to help others.
Most of the time, this means leading by example. Try not to stay late every night. If your role is office-based, avoid taking work home if you and your team are working remotely, set clear boundaries, and respect the boundaries of others.
It is too easy to fall into a pattern of starting work meetings earlier because no one needs to travel, skipping lunch breaks, and letting sessions run late into the night.
None of those issues are problematic if they happen once in a while, but if they start to occur regularly, the team is in danger of burnout. Managers and HR professionals need to take the lead when setting boundaries.
Offering Behavioral Health Care Programs
Behavioral health care programs are becoming more popular with HR departments and leadership teams because they help address many potential work problems. In addition, behavioral health care can also be adapted easily to suit specific settings like a corporate environment.
Behavioral health care supports physical and mental well-being by encouraging positive habits to support overall health. Within a corporate environment, behavioral health professionals start by assessing the risk level of individual team members and their work habits.
Taking on more than others could indicate a heightened risk of burnout. Working through lunchtime without a specific reason is another. Staying late on most days is another good example.
Behavioral health specialists can work with your teams and individual employees to identify risky behavioral patterns and offer better alternatives. Even if none of your staff currently suffer from burnout, behavioral health care is beneficial. This type of care gives employees the tools to prevent bad habits from developing and leading to burnout.
Good work habits help improve productivity as well as the overall company culture. Employees may spend less time at work but use their time more efficiently.
Offering access to behavioral health care is an excellent incentive that shows prospective hires that the company cares about their well-being. For many professionals, this is more important than other aspects of their compensation package.
How to Start Offering Behavioral Health Care to Your Team
Allowing employees to burn out from prolonged stress is bad business. Your company may lose staff for several weeks to illness, or they could leave the organization altogether.
Happy teams with realistic workloads and clear boundaries regarding workload and working hours achieve more in less time. Team members enjoy working together and pitch in because they see the apparent benefits.
Offering your employees access to behavioral health care is easy with the right partner. Platforms like TrueCare™’s behavioral health program were designed to suit corporate entities. Rather than hiring your in-house team, you benefit from access to specialists when you need them.
For your employees, that means receiving the support they need when they need it. Managers benefit from the same support and access to training to help them support their teams better than ever before. Behavioral health care can transform your company culture and eliminate employee burnout once and for all.