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The Lesser-Known Way Companies Might Be Contributing to Employee Burnout

By Maurie Backman - Dec 14, 2018 at 7:32AM

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And what to do about it.

When you're running a business, one of your goals should be to ensure that your employees are adequately content and motivated. Otherwise, they're likely to underperform, and when that happens, your company stands to lose money. Furthermore, when workers grow discontent on the job, it can prompt them to jump ship and move on to new opportunities, leaving you in the costly and time-consuming position of having to identify and onboard new talent.

It therefore pays to keep your workers happy and help them avoid overwhelmingly negative feelings about their jobs. Or, to put it another way, you don't want your workers to fall victim to burnout.

Man covering his face while sitting at a desk with an open laptop

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Though it might read like a buzzword, burnout is an actual clinical term. Mayo Clinic defines it as "a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work." And while some workers bring burnout upon themselves, it's often the case that employers contribute heavily, whether they intend to or not.

Now it stands to reason that insisting on long hours and placing unreasonable demands on your staff is a good way to produce a widespread bout of burnout. But here's another way you might be contributing: making it difficult for workers to take time off.

Only one-third of employers today encourage workers to take time away from the office, according to a new report by Bridge by Instructure. Worse yet, only 11% of employees are encouraged to take mental health days as a means of using up sick time. It's no wonder, then, that so many workers struggle to get a real break from the grind -- and burn out as a result.

Workers need a break

Having employees take time off can be stressful from a management perspective. But if you don't make it easy for workers to escape the grind as needed, they're likely to struggle and perform less optimally. When employees get a few days off, whether to go on vacation or simply clear their heads, they tend to come back recharged and refreshed. But when they don't get that break, they often succumb to negative feelings and undue levels of stress.

So how can you, as an employer, encourage workers to get the breaks they need? For one thing, try mandating that workers take their allotted vacation time. It's a practice some companies already uphold, and it's meant to drive home the point that time away from the office is critical to one's wellbeing both as an employee and a person.

Additionally, develop a backup system of sorts so that workers can take time off as necessary without feeling like they're falling behind on deadlines or letting their managers down. Such a system will serve your company well, too, as it will mean fewer workflow disruptions when key players are absent.

Finally, open up a healthy dialogue around time off. Tell employees that it's not a bad thing and that it won't hurt their chances of advancing their careers or getting raises. Often, there's a self-imposed stigma among employees when it comes to using vacation days, but if you make it clear that getting away isn't at all frowned upon, your workers will be more comfortable with the notion.

Employees who suffer from burnout often struggle to recover, so don't let that happen at your place of work -- because once it does, everyone loses.

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