• Burnout is a serious concern for many employers.
  • Recognizing the signs of burnout is important.
  • Utilizing strategies can prevent burnout and help increase productivity.

Burnout is a common occurrence in the workplace that some might dismiss as something that happens from time to time but ultimately resolves itself. That, however, is not the truth.

Despite many companies prioritizing mental health following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this past October saw employees report a 21% increase in burnout and 17% increase in symptoms of stress. Additionally, some experts have estimated that burnout cost between $125–190 billion annually in healthcare costs, accounting for 8% of national spending on healthcare at the time. These numbers show burnout is a serious (and expensive) concern for employers, especially given the current labor shortage many industries are facing.  

So, what can employers do? The following strategies can provide some insight.

Utilize the following strategies to help prevent burnout in your work environment.

What is workplace burnout and what are the warning signs of it?

As noted on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website, burnout is a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successful managed.” It is typically characterized by “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion,” “increased mental distance from one’s job or feeling of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job” and “reduced professional efficacy.”

While not a classified medical condition, it is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an “occupational phenomenon.”

Helping employees through this is important for obvious reasons, including workers mental well-being, productivity and maintaining a positive workplace environment/office culture. Knowing the difference between just a “bad day” and burnout is critical. There are several indicators of burnout to watch for in the workplace. These include:  

  • Pessimistic outlook or lack of interest
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Decreased productivity or quality
  • Restlessness or insomnia
  • Increase in physical illnesses
  • Mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression
  • Concentration or memory issues
  • Decision fatigue
  • Isolation or avoidance in the workplace 

Overcoming burnout begins with honesty and transparency

The good news is the ways to avoid potential burnout exist and can be highly effective. Leaders should look for commonalities in others as opposed to disagreements. Being forthright, honest and transparent also go a long way to establish the trust that both employees can voice concerns to supervisors and that supervisors have a genuine interest in their well-being.

What is an important first step in this process? Managers regularly checking with employees and providing encouragement while also asking for honest feedback regarding not only their workload but also their surrounding environment and responsibilities. 

Leaders should look to do things such as encouraging a work/life balance, publicly recognizing employees, ensuring they use paid time off (PTO) and valuing it when employees take it, and providing resources to employees once they detect burnout.

Likewise, employers should encourage workers to invest in quality sleep, have outside interests they love, limit their exposure to common sources of stress (overly watching the news, decluttering, unplugging from social media, healthy living) and other self-care techniques.

Checking with your benefits provider to see what mental health services are available can further help employees deal with burnout issues as well. If you’re able, providing mental health resources to employees through health insurance plans can also be a viable option.

Contact an expert to invest in your employees’ well-being

There is no “one size fits all” approach to dealing with burnout in the workplace. Erigo knows this, which is why we offer several Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to help employers find solutions that work for the people that work for them. These include 24/7 assistance via Humana and Lincoln EAPs.

Erigo also offers HumanaGo 365 as a resource to increase employee well-being.. Are you worried that your status as a small business might render services like these not budget-friendly enough to utilize them? Fear not – we can help find mental health services that may be part of the competitive benefits we can provide your organization.  

Extinguish burnout in your work environment by contacting the experts at Erigo today.