Employee burnout is an epidemic with serious implications for employees and businesses.
I personally lived with low-grade burnout, much like a low-grade fever, throughout much of my corporate career. Work and stress were synonymous for me, mostly due to my Type A personality – my tendency to take on a lot of responsibility and complete everything to perfection. I’m certainly not alone. According to the O.C. Tanner 2020 Global Culture Studies Report, 79% of employees suffer from mild to severe burnout.
Most people think that burnout results from being overworked or having a boss you can’t stand. Surprisingly, however, a major cause of burnout is a lack of emotional connection at work. Not feeling inspired by a sense of purpose, a lack of meaningful relationships and not feeling appreciated at work are all contributing factors.
Burnout spreads low morale and results in lower productivity, higher health care costs and turnover costs. Employees are 2.6 times more likely to leave their employer when they’re experiencing burnout, according to the O.C. Tanner report. And because Type A personalities (often your highest performing employees) are especially prone to burnout, you run the risk of losing your rising stars.
Luckily, some of the best solutions to lessen or prevent burnout are easy to implement in any organization.
Before solving for burnout, it’s important to identify employees who are suffering. Here are key behaviors to look for in yourself and others:
What can leaders do?
Leaders have tremendous impact on the employee experience because they are closest to “micro-moments” – little, daily moments that add up to the overall employee experience. For that reason, leaders have a great opportunity to create positive organizational cultures that can lessen or prevent burnout. Practices rooted in positive psychology, the scientific study of what makes humans thrive, provide a guide for easy ways to boost positivity at work through micro-moments. Here are some easy-to-implement remedies:
Be mindful of people and purpose
Express gratitude and appreciation to others
Invest in relationships
When you focus on these practices, employees will feel more positive, resilient, focused and committed. As a result, leaders will see improved engagement, performance and retention. And of course, this leads to greater progress toward the organization’s goals.