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Many of us may have started the new year promising to do things differently this year. But quite possibly by the end of January, the new year’s resolutions are long forgotten! So, this is a gentle reminder to put measures in place now to ensure that 2024 is different and so that you and your team manage to avoid that year-end burnout feeling.

Everyone handles life’s pressures differently, which is no exception at the workplace. Some job-related stress is unavoidable, in fact the scientists tell us that a certain amount of stress is even healthy. Too much stress however can be detrimental.  As an employer, you might unintentionally contribute to your employees’ stress by overloading them, resulting in low staff morale, decreased productivity, poor performance, fatigue, high staff turnover, a loss of motivation, increased absenteeism and possibly serious health issues.

Unfortunately, many companies overlook telling signs and are surprised when workers perform poorly due to exhaustion. If you want to avoid burnout among your staff and create an overall happier work environment, here are some causes of employee burnout, how it will affect your business, as well as solutions to prevent or fix these problems.

Here are four of the most common practices that can cause burn out in your team members:

  1. Discrepancies between the expectations of employers and employees

Discrepancies between employer and employee expectations can contribute to burnout when there is a misalignment in workload, communication, and support. If employees perceive unrealistic expectations, insufficient resources, or a lack of acknowledgment for their efforts, it can lead to chronic stress, exhaustion, and ultimately burnout. Employers can mitigate these risks by fostering clear communication, setting realistic expectations, and providing adequate resources and support to maintain a healthy work environment.

  1. Workplace Culture

Workplace culture plays a significant role in employee well-being, and a toxic culture can contribute to burnout. When a culture promotes long working hours, unrealistic expectations, lack of work-life balance, poor communication, and insufficient support, employees may experience stress and exhaustion.

A positive and supportive workplace culture, on the other hand, can help prevent burnout by fostering open communication, recognizing achievements, promoting work-life balance, and prioritizing employee well-being.

  1. Lacking growth opportunities

When you’re not implementing career-advancement opportunities, incentives, performance bonuses or promotions at your company, your staff may become increasingly worried and stressed about their current positions and their future at the company. Employees may become demotivated and experience burnout due to a sense of professional stagnancy and unfulfilled potential.

Employers can mitigate this risk by providing avenues for skill development, career progression, and continuous learning within the organization.

  1. Inadequate work-life balance

Overloading your staff with work will force them to work overtime, leaving little or no time for family, downtime, or hobbies. Your employees will quickly notice that their lives are unbalanced, which will increase their unhappiness.

By not promoting flexible work arrangements, or failing to address the importance of work-life balance can lead to burnout. A healthy work-life balance is crucial for employee well-being, and when this balance is disrupted, employees may experience increased stress and exhaustion.

What’s the impact on your business?

  1. Low productivity and unnecessary mistakes

When your staff are overworked, their concentration isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Fatigue and stress resulting from excessive workloads or being overworked can lead to an increase in errors and mistakes. This is particularly problematic in industries where accuracy is crucial, as errors can result in financial losses, damage to reputation, and decreased customer satisfaction.

  1. High staff turnover 

A rise in your employee turnover rate, especially among your most talented and experienced members, is one of the most telling signs that your staff is unhappy, likely because they’re overworked, underpaid, and undervalued.

  1. Health issues will arise

Stress is the root cause of many health issues. When your staff are stressed due to long work hours and unreasonable deadlines, their health will deteriorate. You’ll start to notice this in an increased number of leave or sick leave days taken, as well as in your staff’s appearance.

Tried and tested solutions to combat employee burnout

  1. Lead by example

When you’re in a leading role and burn the midnight oil every week, your staff will feel pressured to follow suit. By creating an environment based on trust, transparency, and open communication, your staff will feel more comfortable approaching you when they feel overworked or need more time to complete tasks.

  1. Encourage a balanced lifestyle

An unhealthy work-life balance negatively affects the overall wellbeing of your employees and your company’s growth. It’s crucial to spend enough time away from work, and as an employer, you can help improve your staff’s lifestyle, whether it be by implementing regular coffee breaks throughout the day and flexible hours to accommodate those commuting from further away or encouraging them to take a day off or a long weekend now and then, and plan a proper holiday at least once a year. By respecting your employees’ need to have a work-life balance, they’ll automatically start respecting it themselves.

  1. Create a caring culture

If it has become normal for your staff to work after hours, on public holidays and during the festive season, something needs to change. Start by introducing one-on-one meetings with each staff member to understand their needs, goals, and expectations

Encourage your staff to give their inputs and show them that they’re taken seriously. Even though changing your company culture from overworked to caring is a long-term project, you’ll also reap long-term rewards, as the work environment will become healthier, and your staff will feel valued and heard.

  1. Offer incentives

Most companies with a culture of overworking don’t offer any perks apart from monthly salaries and leave days required by law, despite their employees overworking themselves constantly. A happy employee has high morale and is motivated to deliver high-quality work. You can boost your employees’ moods by offering benefits, like performance bonuses, travel and cell phone allowances and medical aid.

Is a happy work environment possible?

Yes it is – Meeting deadlines and keeping customers satisfied is as important as your employees’ well-being. Take a moment – assess your company’s current workplace culture and the workload your staff has to manage and weigh it up against your aimed culture and your business goals. If these don’t match, you need to make some changes to prevent your employees from burning out and your business from suffering as a result.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.

Contact Human Alliance for more information

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