Communicating effectively with employees is vital to the success of any business, yet research has shown that successful engagement is being thwarted by an epidemic of employee burnout. By failing to notice the signs of stress or dissatisfaction in staff, organisations face a battle against low productivity and high-staff turnover – and these are both issues that will affect the bottom line.
If an organisation wants to protect its reputation and attract future talent then it must have measures in place to deal with burnout. These seven steps are a blueprint for businesses to maximise the potential of their employees.
1. Pay attention to job description details
A job description entails defining the key responsibilities and functions within each individual’s job role. Defining a job description well means that each individual’s output works in unison with their wider team and the wider organisation, ensuring maximum efficiency. Poor job design can result in certain responsibilities, such as those that would work better shared throughout the team, falling on individuals and creating unnecessary stress.
When this stress leads to burnout, the wider team and wider organisation can lose efficiency as those unfamiliar with new responsibilities are tasked with taking them on quickly. In turn, this too can lead to burnout among the wider team.
2. Clear pathway for objectives
Without a clear set of objectives, employees are effectively flying blind, lacking purpose and direction. Business leaders should understand the objectives of their workforces as they are likely to have signed off on the hiring of each individual.
Burnout occurs when these objectives aren’t clearly communicated to individuals who can all too easily get stuck in a cycle of working hard at the wrong set of objectives, only to find their efforts are questioned or go unrecognised and unrewarded.
3. Good training helps employees excel
To excel in their roles, employees require the correct skills, knowledge and behaviours. While many will bring exemplary sets of these to the table when they join the business, further development is often required to align the individual’s skills, knowledge and behaviours to the business and its specific objectives.
Sometimes an organisation’s objectives shift and change, requiring further development to bring the workforce in line with those changes. Ensuring that adequate training is provided will help the workforce excel, removing the stresses associated with struggling to fulfil objectives without the necessary skills.
4. Strong support reaps rewards
Without sufficient levels of support, employee stress can escalate. The results are downturns in efficiency and higher chances of burnout. Being able to open up and talk about stresses and anxieties is essential to maintaining a happy and productive workplace. Even when support systems are in place, employees can be unaware of them, therefore it’s important to ensure every individual is aware of the support available to them.
5. Review, review…and review again!
Feedback is essential to keeping employees on track with a clear idea of the areas where they might need to improve and what they need to achieve. Reviews should take place regularly with a set of targets given to each individual to complete before their next review.
Providing feedback and objectives in bitesize chunks will ensure that individuals don’t lose their purpose and can accurately track their own progress, leading to higher employee satisfaction.
6. Better work-life balance for healthy minds
“Work hard, play hard” has become an overused mantra and it shouldn’t be assumed that all employees will share this principle. Some might want to work hard, then relax. Others will talk about working smart instead of hard. Businesses need to understand that the ideal work-life balance is different for everyone and however they envision this, it should be supported.
This means recognising when employees are striking a poor balance and ensuring they get the downtime they need to maintain personal happiness alongside productivity in the workplace.
7. Mapping out career routes clearly
Career progression is a big incentive for employees to work to the best of their abilities. Providing individuals with a clear view of exactly what they’re working towards will increase motivation and reduce negativity when they are exposed to additional stress from time to time. Managers can use regular reviews as an opportunity to communicate opportunities for progression as well as to provide feedback on employee performance.
Getting the workforce into shape and working efficiently with minimal chance of burnout must begin at the management level. As leaders in the workplace, managers should have the right training in place to recognise and react to the signs of burnout in themselves.
Importantly, managers should also oversee their team to ensure that maximum productivity is being achieved whilst maintaining a high level of employee satisfaction that will be passed down through the ranks.
Samantha Caine is client services director at Business Linked Teams