How to Prevent Burnout Before It Happens to You and Your Team
Prevent Burnout with Work-Life Balance Training
What Is Burnout?
The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome that results from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
There’s no doubt that burnout can pose a serious threat to your productivity and well being—as well as to your company’s bottom line.
According to the World Health Organization, employees who are burned out feel:
- and distanced from or negative about work.
If you’re on the path to burning out—or already there—it’s likely that your performance at work is suffering, and you are no longer enjoying or getting satisfaction from your job. It’s no fun.
What Causes Burnout?
A primary cause of burnout, especially for office workers, is simply working too much. The shift to remote and hybrid work brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic plus the increasing spread of business across global borders and time zones have accelerated the increase in expectations of constant availability.
Salaried staff who work remotely tend to keep more flexible hours than when reporting to an office, and these flexible hours run the gamut of days of the week and times of day. The result is that what used to be considered “flex-time” has led to “always on” behaviors. Portable, internet connected devices mean that office staff tend to be available for work all hours of the day and all days of the week, even when they don’t intend to work. Long work hours and little disconnection tends to make work more exhausting, less interesting, and less motivating. So an important way to reverse the course of burnout, or relieve existing burnout, is to take more, extended breaks from working, where staff completely disconnects.
Another cause of burnout is a continuous, high pressure environment without any relief. Each deadline that seems to require long work hours and should be temporary is nonetheless followed by another deadline, without any time in between for some time off and a more leisurely work pace.
Another cause of burnout is a toxic culture or leadership that doesn’t seem to take employee wellness into consideration. Lastly, emotionally taxing jobs, such as those in healthcare (especially direct patient care) and social services tend to have higher burnout rates than office jobs.
How Prevalent Is Burnout?
Before the pandemic, two-thirds of employees reported feeling burned out sometimes or very often, according to Gallup.
- 66% 66%
Since then, the number of burned out workers has only grown.
A study of 2,800 workers conducted during the pandemic found that remote workers are working longer hours than they did when they reported to the office. And…
are clocking time on weekends
What Is the Cost of Burnout?
The pandemic has caused many workers to realize that life is too short to endure degrading or unfulfilling work.
According to the Gallup report State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report, the vast majority of workers in the US and Canada are disengaged, and nearly half of American workers are actively looking for work or watching for opportunities.
So what does this high rate of disengagement and burnout cost employers? The report finds that replacing workers requires one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. If a workforce has an average annual salary of $50,000, it costs $9,000 a year to keep each disengaged worker and between $25,000 and $100,000 to replace them.
The saddest part is that most employees say that their companies could have made changes to keep them on the job.
One of the fastest and easiest solutions to burnout is better work-life balance, but most employees lack the skills and support they need to achieve it.
What is Work-Life Balance?
The first step in having a better work-life balance is defining the term, for yourself or your team. The meaning of work-life balance I use with my clients is simple: it means “don’t work too much.”
Most employees are expected to work at least 40-hours per week, although many employers, especially with remote and hybrid teams, don’t count hours, only accomplishments. Nevertheless, remote workers tend to work longer hours but studies show that after 50 hours of work per week, productivity starts to decrease, and the productivity decline increases sharply after 55 hours. Also, the World Health Organization found that “working 55 or more hours per week is associated with an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease (coronary artery disease), compared to working 35-40 hours a week.”
So back to my meaning of work-life balance above, “don’t work too much” for most people probably means fewer than 50 hours per week. However in my experience, most people aren’t aware of how many hours they spend on work activities. For example, I hear from most of my clients that they are constantly checking their email and other communication channels on their smartphones, and this counts as “working!”
No matter how much you love your work, you will be better at your job if you balance your time working with rest and downtime, and also other things that will stimulate your creativity. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your work is NOT work!
The Struggle to Achieve Work-Life Balance
Although productivity is shown to decrease after working 50 hours per week, the majority of salaried American workers put in more time than that on the job, according to Gallup.
Worse, according to Project Time Off, each year Americans leave most of their vacation time on the table!
When asked why, workers will say that taking vacation is too stressful. It’s not uncommon for employees to say things like, “I’ll only come back from vacation to an enormous pile of work, so what’s the point?” Or, “My boss will penalize me for taking vacation.”
Another way these problems manifest is that workers take their vacation time, and often even travel, but still work while they are away, so it’s not really vacation time.
The Solution to Burnout: Work-Life Balance Training
The Burnout Management module is an important component of Empowered Productivity Training.
This training module on work-life balance can help your team members decrease their stress and improve their performance.
For Organizations: Increase Employee Engagement and Improve Your Bottom Line.
This module can increase employee engagement, decrease absenteeism and turnover, maximize the return on your company’s investment in paid time off, and ultimately improve your bottom line.
By including the Burnout Management module in a comprehensive Empowered Productivity Training, you’ll reverse the trend toward burnout at your organization. Team members will learn to:
Objectively analyze whether longer hours truly are “required” for their job.
Get the same amount of work done in less time and with less stress!
Separate work life from leisure time, especially when working from home.
Control technology to support emotional well being.
Feel empowered to take a vacation (or staycation) in a way that they can fully recharge and without fear of what they’ll come back to.
Contribute to a vacation-friendly culture that supports employees physical and emotional well-being and makes them better at their jobs.
For Leaders: Prevent Employee Burnout
Leaders who participate in both the Burnout Management and the Culture Change Management modules of Empowered Productivity training also learn how to: