TOP 5 Ways to Effectively Manage and Prevent Employee Burnout and Stress

Imagine a workplace where your employees are barely productive, make mistakes with disturbing frequency, and work in an atmosphere so gloomy and heavy that it seems almost palpable. Not a very appealing image, is it? 

I am being blunt to make a point. A person who is stressed and experiencing professional burnout is someone who needs help, not more discipline. This situation is not only detrimental to the mental health of the individual, but also to the entire company. Less focused and motivated employees lead to poorer results, lower employee retention, and a worse company reputation. According to studies by the American Psychological Association, the cost of workplace stress to the U.S. economy is estimated at more than $500 billion. In addition, 550 million workdays are lost each year.  

According to employee burnout statistics, personnel are 70% more prone to burnout if they don't feel supported by their leaders

The good news, however, is that all of this can be avoided. And how? Dive in to learn our tips for combating employee burnout, as well as an overview of the symptoms and possible causes. 

Beware of These Signs of Job Burnout  

Workers suffer from burnout when their physical or emotional reserves are depleted. It can affect any of us, regardless of the type of job - after all, high-ranking managers can be just as affected by mental health issues as cashiers. Job burnout can occur as a result of both excessive stress and a lack of support at work - for example, having too many tasks, pressure and too little time to complete them. But difficult personal circumstances, such as a divorce or the illness of a family member, can also take their toll. Especially if little is done to help the employee cope.  

According to the World Health Organization, workplace burnout is characterized by three features:

Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion 

Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job

Reduced professional efficacy

But what does it mean exactly?  Let’s go through the alarming employee burnout signs:

  • Feelings of frustration and hopelessness – Lacking the willpower to finish their work, fatigue, and exhaustion follow. These feelings can build up after some time and cause a person to lose interest in their work or doubt how they can develop and progress in their job. They feel hopeless and that their efforts seem to be ineffective. Mental health is deteriorating.
  • Physical exhaustion – Physical signs of stress can include headaches, stomach problems and digestive difficulties. People who are constantly tired or lack energy may be at the edge of their mental capacity. Burnout can also lead to a less efficient immune system, making it easier to catch an infection or cold. 
  • Distance towards colleagues – People who feel burned out find their jobs increasingly stressful, and as a result, they may start to have the same attitude toward their colleagues. In order to feel apathetic about their work, they tend to isolate themselves emotionally from other people. 
  • Resentment and cynicism – Common signs of employee burnout are associated with a sense of alienation and disinterest in daily activities. This very often leads the way to cynicism. People suffering from burnout can easily seem irritable, sarcastic, and defensive. They may even begin to loathe the tasks they have to do. 
  • Growing absenteeism – When your top employees start getting sick and skipping workdays on a regular basis, there's a high probability that they may be experiencing employee burnout or are on the verge of it. They may feel that a day off can miraculously revive their enthusiasm and energy, but at the end of the day, it extends deadlines and creates chronic stress. 
  • Decreased professional performance – Burnout primarily affects routine tasks at work, as employees often lack imagination and struggle with concentration issues. This causes people to feel bad about their work and its results, making it even harder to get everything done. The vicious cycle continues. 
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Common Reasons for Employee Burnout – and 5 Ways to Manage It 

As you can see, emotional burnout is not just about the World Health Organization definitions and explanations. It's about action. It can negatively affect a person in many ways, and it is difficult to look at it objectively when you are affected by it yourself. Not only does it contribute to emotional exhaustion and depression, but it can also cause good employees to leave their jobs because they did not feel understood. 

It goes hand-in-hand with higher turnover and hiring costs, poorer revenue, and lower productivity for your company... Constant problems with your team will not go away with the people involved. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  

Something has to change. And we can help you steer in the right direction. It's not about implementing expensive or inapplicable services, but about truly understanding the root cause. Only then can you take action to prevent employee burnout or - if it's too late - manage it properly in your office or team. 

Unclear Job Expectation  

One of the less commonly discussed reasons for emotional and professional burnout is the lack of a clear career path and clearly defined goals. How can a worker feel a real sense of purpose in their work if they are stuck in the same place, with no progress and no idea what is expected of them to reach the next level? 

These aspects are very often lost in job descriptions and have little to do with the day-to-day work. This is where motivational platforms and gamification come into play. By using Grow Uperion, it is easy for managers to set KPIs for each employee, monitor them and encourage them through the reward system. Employees can see their progress presented visually and check off the next stages of clearly defined tasks. In this way, the development perspective is very tangible and stimulating. Who would not feel purposeful and motivated if they had clear goals and means to achieve them? 

Lack of Communication and Support From Manager 

Very often, the problems lie in good old-fashioned communication. This seems so obvious that it is easily overlooked. The reality is that we do not know how to speak or communicate properly. And when this applies to a person in a leadership position, things can get messy. If members of a team feel they cannot talk openly about personal life struggles, depression, problems at work, or other difficulties, there's no discrete channel of communication for that - or worse - if there's no support system, many employees will burn out after a while. 

At this point, manager training becomes essential. In order to create healthy and functioning relationships within the team, the person in charge must simultaneously master communication techniques, empathy and assertiveness. Raising team leaders' awareness and training them in soft skills can change the entire work culture and reduce burnout in the workplace. It seems so simple but requires months - if not years - of training and pro-active campaigns. A good example is Raben Group, which uses gamified courses to teach managers good leadership skills.  

Unmanageable Workloads 

Burnout is often triggered by overwork. Overtime due to unfair treatment and unevenly distributed work in the team, unrealistic goals or staff shortages are very stressful for the mental health of employees.  How to manage employee burnout in this case?

Management must ensure that optimal staffing levels are maintained. No matter how hard you try, you cannot replace two or three employees. With a balanced division of duties, employee retention will increase, and burnout will decrease. There should also be a safe space to communicate problems, delays or mistakes so that productivity plans can be realistically adjusted. After all, we are only human. It's better to look for ways to optimize and focus on fair project management than to force employees to work after hours. It pays to spend a year working on fewer projects that suffer from a high turnover rate and a poor reputation

Extreme Time and Deadline Pressure 

When scheduling is poor, the atmosphere in a team also deteriorates. Employees who are constantly given unrealistic deadlines to complete tasks and feel pressured to stay after work or sacrifice family time to meet that deadline are at greater risk of burnout. Although workloads may occasionally increase, it is unrealistic to expect employees to meet tight schedules all the time. The same is true when a person tries to help their colleagues and take on additional tasks that contribute to workplace burnout after some time. 

The most important employee burnout prevention strategy here is to plan competently and be willing to reschedule. If someone is planning a two-week vacation, it makes sense to change their task schedule so they can get back on track when they return. That being said, sit down with the team member who is constantly tired or behind schedule and help them prioritize. How to do that? By making a list of all the tasks and evaluating them together. Leave room for discussion and do not insist on doing everything at once. 

Tedious and Monotonous Workflow  

When a job is monotonous and the company does nothing to engage the staff, it can lead to employees becoming unmotivated, tired, and less inclined to creatively commit to their tasks. In such a situation, you need constant energy to stay focused - which can lead to fatigue and job burnout. We all have similar tasks to do, but they can always be varied. Unfortunately, companies often lack an effective reward and feedback system to spice up everyday tasks and make them more interesting or meaningful. 

As a leader, consider the work your team members do. Discuss with your employees what inspires or drives them, and then do your best to make it happen. The truth is that when a person is particularly good at something, their superiors often delegate similar tasks to them, which could drain the employee in the long run. 

Another way to address this issue and prevent employee burnout is to use an engagement platform that provides a clear, gamified system of appreciation in the form of badges, leaderboards and personalized messaging. When you measure yourself against others in a healthy and countable way and receive perks in return, daily tasks become something else entirely.

What More Can You Do? How to Avoid Employee Burnout?

  • Create a workplace culture book 
  • Empower staff to take vacation days 
  • Reduce micromanagement by providing job autonomy  
  • Build an honest and lasting relationship with your team 
  • Invest in educational campaigns on emotional and mental wellness
  • Give tasks more meaning through gamification
  • Provide mental health support

Managing Employee Burnout with Care 

Reasons for employee burnout are very diverse. Those who find it difficult to deal with stress in the workplace put themselves at particular risk here. However, it is up to management to create a work environment that is supportive of their employees and to try to understand them. 

Employees will be more willing to approach you with a problem if you, as a supervisor, let them know they are respected and heard. 

You can avoid an increase in absenteeism, sick days and turnover if you change your perspective and try to implement the strategies above. If you need help with this, reach out to our experts who will be happy to guide you through gamification strategies that will boost your team's engagement, dedication and productivity.