Is burnout really a thing? Yes, and it’s more widespread than you may have thought. According to a 2018 Gallup Study two-thirds of full-time employees experience burnout, and we just got news that the World Health Organization has officially defined burnout as a syndrome stemming from work-related stress. 

So what? Well, this may not seem like a big deal, but defining burnout as a syndrome is a step towards awareness and recognition of this debilitating state. It also reinforces the importance of work-life balance and that employers have an important role in helping to create an environment where burnout is less likely. How so? There are certain factors that can be more stress-inducing for employees than they really need to be which can contribute to burnout. Here are some things to consider that create a less stressful work environment:

Lit sparkler burning - Preventing burnout concept

Clear Direction, Processes, and Feedback 

Providing employees with clear guidance on what’s required of them is going to help them be successful. This should start the moment employees begin their journey with your organization – during the onboarding stage. Have a clear process and even an onboarding checklist to ensure all steps are addressed and everyone who is involved in the process knows what is expected from them. 

As employees get familiar with their role it will be important for them to understand if they are meeting expectations. Providing employees with ongoing feedback will be the best way to adjust or realign expectations to help keep employees on the road to success. If you don’t already have an ongoing feedback program in place, you can get some tips on how to successfully launch such a program here

Work-Life Balance 

Everyone is busy, and it can be challenging and downright stressful to strike the right balance between the demands of work and personal life. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that giving employees more control over their schedules and the flexibility to balance out their work and personal time leads to more engaged and satisfied employees across the board

In order to provide your employees with that flexibility you will likely need to rely on technology. A strong automated scheduling system will have the capability to allow employees to perform an assortment of different actions through self-service, like swapping shifts or requesting coverage, all while serving up a list of available and qualified employees to take on those shifts based on criteria like skills, certifications, minimum/maximum hours worked, budget, etc. Ideally, employees would have the ability to perform shift swap and coverage requests both on a desktop or on the go through their mobile phone for added flexibility. 

In addition, to avoid disruption to schedules and work-life balance, laws have been enacted in several states which have some conditions on how many days out a schedule can be changed without an employee’s permission. Although this has begun with a handful of states, it seems to be catching on quickly and some organizations are also voluntarily enacting policies to mimic the law to benefit employees. Again, strong scheduling tools used as part of a unified human capital management system will allow this type of policy to be enforced with minimal administration efforts.

Recognition 

Everyone has an innate desire to feel valued in all aspects of their lives and work is no exception. Recognizing an employee for a job well done is a great way to make them feel that they are valued. Yet, employee recognition is limited, if present at all, at most organizations because it has a stigma of being costly. However, providing recognition can be as simple as a thank you note from a manager with the leadership team copied, forwarding positive customer feedback, celebrating of work anniversaries with coffee and cake, or even having a low-cost meal provided like bagels for breakfast can go a long way in making employees feel valued. And don’t forget that happy employees mean that they will be more engaged and productive – so this is a win-win all around.

The bottom line is that healthy, happy employees are less likely to burn out and more likely to be engaged and productive. So, take the time to look at your current processes to ensure you are providing clear direction throughout the employee lifecycle, provide employees with continuous feedback to keep them on track, give employees the flexibility to swap shifts and put in coverage requests, and recognize employees for their hard work. And remember, the more you focus on the employee experience your HCM platform provides, the more your technology investments will help delight and engage everyone in your organization.

Published: Thursday, May 30, 2019