Work-related stress | How to prevent employee burnout in 2022

How to prevent employee burnout in 2022

By, Phil Pringle, Employee Experience Strategist, Qualtrics

Burnout and work-related stress are major reasons why employees are considering quitting their jobs in 2022. How do you retain your best talent and prevent burnout?

Employee burnout is an unpleasant mixture of work stress, exhaustion, and negative, cynical feelings. Burned out employees struggle to get through the day, let alone focus on learning and growth.

The effects of employee burnout

Nobody benefits from overworking and burning out employees.

For the employees themselves: At the very least, burnout leaves employees disengaged, disinterested, and performing poorly. More seriously, overwork and burnout can exact a terrible toll on people’s physical and mental health. Emotional exhaustion, anxiety, depression, addiction, sleep problems, gastrointestinal conditions, headaches, workplace accidents, and even serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes can be linked to chronic stress at work.

For the business: Every aspect of employee burnout – absenteeism, poor performance, decreased productivity, health issues, higher healthcare costs, accidents, talent attrition, and re-recruitment affects the bottom line, and can even go further into brand reputational damage and legal claims.

How can you alleviate employee burnout?

A quick fix of a day or a week off is not going to cut it. And as Christina Maslach, a social psychologist, observes, “If the best thing you can do for your employees is to tell them not to come to work, what is wrong with the work?”

It seems that the answer to fixing employee burnout is ‘fix the work’. So how can you do that, and create an employee-centric culture?
Put wellbeing at the heart of your workplace

When an organisation actually embeds wellbeing into its culture rather than marking it off on a tick list, employees are more inclined to take good care of their physical and mental health and speak up when something’s not right.

Make managers responsible for avoiding burnout

Where traditional management went for a ‘command-and-control’ dictatorial style that caused harmful work stress, making modern managers responsible for avoiding burnout changes that whole dynamic. A manager should listen to employees, set clear goals, expectations and be flexible. They should encourage collaboration without overdoing it. Support employees, automate tedious tasks, model behaviour and recognise early signs of stress.

Make employee experience the best it can be

“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to do a day’s work in your life” so the saying goes, and employees who love their jobs tend not to be the ones who burn out. By creating the best employee experience, you help reduce the root causes of workplace burnout, as employees love working for your company.

Make mental health a priority

Job burnout results from the stress of an overwhelming workload, inflexibility, lack of direction and clarity, micromanagement, and unfair treatment. These all affect employees’ mental health and can lead to breakdowns and staff turnover. Devise a mental health strategy that works.

How technology can help reduce employee burnout

Technology does not need to be the bad guy in burnout, Use it to your advantage. Use it to automate those tedious tasks, but more importantly use it to listen, to gather feedback and pick up any first signs of burnout.

When you combine your operational (O) data and experience (X) data, you’ll also be able to pick up signs of burnout with metrics such as absenteeism, employee turnover, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. Combining O and X data gives you a more holistic view of your organisation so you can step in and remedy problems before they burn out your employees.

For more information on employee trends in 2022 and how to keep you staff engaged read the Qualtrics 2022 Employee Experience Trends Report.

Re-engage your employees in 2022

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Acting on employee feedback is the number one way to attract, retain and engage top talent, with leaders reporting 3x more revenue per employee and 40% lower turnover. But here’s the catch: only 19% of UK employees say their organisation listens to their opinions. Qualtrics helps brands like Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Barclays to close that experience gap, enabling them to design and improve experiences across the employee lifecycle - from recruitment through to exit.