Preventing Work Burnout Is Now a Business Priority
By Paul Flaharty, District President, Robert Half
Employee burnout caused by overwork or stress may be one of the greatest hazards to your organization right now. And any company having trouble placing open positions is at risk of losing employees who are struggling to cover the workload, becoming physically and mentally exhausted, and disengaging from their work.
In fact, in a recent survey, Robert Half found that almost three-quarters (74%) of employees told us they were devoting more than 40 hours per week to work.
In the marketing and communications fields particularly, I’m seeing clients slow down the pace of hiring, even when key positions are empty, while waiting to see which way the economic winds are blowing. Meanwhile, their current staff is increasingly overwhelmed, and individuals under stress may be looking for jobs elsewhere.
The prospect of replacing those workers in a tight hiring market such as this one is daunting for employers, especially if a company has earned a reputation as a tough place to work.
Work burnout is on the rise. In a recent Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers, one-quarter said they had taken time off due to stress in the past two years.
So what about the other 75%? Perhaps many have a balanced workload and aren’t feeling the pressure. But I’ll bet there’s a significant portion who are trying to soldier on, and you may not realize until it’s too late that they feel overwhelmed. According to our research, more than one-third of professionals (35%) are uneasy about expressing their feelings of burnout with their manager.
What can you do to prevent or counter employee exhaustion and exasperation? Here are six quick tips to help keep work burnout at bay in your organization:
1. Don’t pull back on hiring
I’m urging hiring managers to continue searching for new hires even when it’s difficult to find talent. While you shouldn’t compromise on quality, consider broadening your search to include candidates with high potential who may not have logged as much time in the role or have the typical credentials or degree.
If your organization wants to pull back on hiring because of budgets, be ready to advocate for the advantages of placing open positions. Collect and provide data — for example, on employee turnover rates, absenteeism, decreased productivity, or increased workload — to illustrate the negative impact of burnout on the company’s bottom line and highlight the need for additional resources. On a positive note, highlight the good effects of hiring on employee morale, increased productivity, higher quality work and reduced turnover.
2. Help by staffing gaps with contract talent
Contract workers could be the solution you’re looking for right now. Robert Half’s research shows that more than half of companies in the U.S. plan to add contract staff to their teams this year.
Hiring contract professionals delivers more benefits than just a temporary fix. When working with a talent solutions firm like Robert Half, you’ll have access to a deeper, more diverse candidate pool and, with little effort, bring on skilled, experienced professionals who can quickly scale up your team quickly and efficiently. And almost two-thirds (64%) of managers we surveyed say they’ve converted more contract/temporary roles to full-time positions than they did the previous year.
Looking to hire contract professionals? Learn how Robert Half can help.
3. Reassess roles
Are your employees in positions that suit their strengths and interests? Are you providing clearly defined roles and expectations? Try to ensure your workers don’t become frustrated laboring at tasks that don’t make the best use of their abilities.
Also, communicate with your team members regularly and keep everyone in the loop when priorities change. This is especially important if you have employees working remotely all or some of the time. In addition, try to include your staff in the planning process for new projects and initiatives so they will feel more invested in the success of those undertakings.
Finally, many employers are working to revamp their job architecture as a way to retain and attract top talent.
4. Be realistic
One sure way to set employees on the short track to burnout is burdening them with overly ambitious or unclear assignments. Take a step back and ask yourself the following questions: Am I assigning manageable workloads to my employees? Do my employees have all the resources and information they need to handle their duties and assignments?
If you conclude that the answers are “no,” you’ll want to rethink your current approach and adjust priorities so your team members can realistically and consistently complete good work on time without burning the candle at both ends.
5. Recognize contributions
Remembering to say “thank you” to your employees can go a long way toward preventing work burnout. Offering appreciation can be as simple as a shoutout during a staff meeting or as significant as nominating your team for internal and external awards.
Robert Half has some great ideas for how to recognize and reward employees, especially hybrid team members.
6. Emphasize wellness
Encourage your workers to reestablish clear boundaries between their work and personal lives, especially if they have moved into remote or hybrid work arrangements. Emphasize that you want to hear from them if something isn’t working so you can collaborate on a solution.
Finally, encourage your team members to take advantage of any perks and benefits your business provides to help support employee health and well-being. Build awareness around those programs and make sure all your staff members, whether working remotely or onsite, have access to the same or similar offerings.
Follow Paul Flaharty on LinkedIn.