Most U.S. workers aren't just coasting on the job. A good 40% of employees say they work more than 50 hours per week, while 20% work more than 60 hours weekly. Throw in job-related demands, absentee bosses, and looming deadlines, and it's no wonder so many workers wind up succumbing to burnout during their careers.

The Mayo Clinic describes burnout as "a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work." And as a business owner or manager, that's not a state you want your employees to reach, because once that happens, their performance is likely to suffer.

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Yet many companies aren't taking steps to prevent burnout on the job. In fact, according to a recent Bridge by Instructure study, a talent management software provider, 78% of workers say that putting in more hours is essential to getting promoted and doing well in their careers. Meanwhile, only 33% of employees are encouraged to take the paid time off they're entitled to, while just 11% are encouraged to use their sick days for mental health.

The problem, of course, is that when workers don't get a break, they're likely to grow less motivated and less productive over time. And as a business owner or manager, it's on you to take steps to avoid that.

Helping your employees avoid burnout

Though it's true that some people are just more naturally prone to stress than others, there are steps you can take from a management angle to keep your employees content and engaged. For one thing, encourage, or even force, employees to take time off. More than half of U.S. employees leave vacation days on the table each year because they're afraid that by maxing out, they'll look bad or fall behind. But if you let it be known that it's OK to take time away from the office, your workers will be more likely to get the mental break they need.

Furthermore, consider offering your employees flexible work arrangements, which often make for a better work-life balance. You might, for example, allow folks with long commutes to work remotely a few times a week, or give certain workers a courtesy day off following a period of extra-heavy assignment loads. Similarly, you might establish a comp time structure wherein workers who put in a certain number of hours above the norm get a day back, so to speak, later that month. All of these moves serve the critical goal of giving workers a chance to clear their heads and come back refreshed.

Finally, insist on regular manager check-ins at your company to gauge employees' stress levels and workloads. Some businesses mandate that managers conduct weekly one-on-one meetings with their workers for this very purpose, but if that's too burdensome, make it a biweekly or monthly sit-down. The goal is to make employees feel like they have an open line of communication with their managers, and a forum during which they can air their grievances and concerns.

Remember, happy employees are productive employees, so it pays to develop a strategy for helping your workers steer clear of burnout. Not only is it the right thing to do for your staff, but it's a move that can pay off financially as well.

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