How to Manage Employee Burnout

By Rick Goodman

Employee stress is serious business, and it can lead to any number of problems. Employees who are stressed tend to be less engaged in their work. Their morale is lower, which means your employee retention can suffer. Stressed employees are also less healthy, which can mean more sick days and higher insurance costs. And of course, employees who are under a lot of stress can make a lot more mistakes.

The thing is, work can be stressful for all of us—no matter our industry and no matter our position. The 9-to-5 life takes its toll. Stress is inevitable for your team members, and if it’s not managed properly it can lead to burnout.

But how can you, as a leader, keep that employee stress in check?

Know What Causes Stress

The first thing you can do is simply to step back and understand what leads to stress. Studies show that stress is caused by many factors, and they may be a little different from one employee to the next. Generally speaking, though, the factors that cause stress are workload, work-life balance, lack of job security, and relations with co-workers.

If you’re not sure why your employees are stressed, I recommend simply starting a conversation with them. Make this a conversation topic during annual reviews, and also check in at team huddles and meetings. Make it clear that your door is open, and that if people are feeling stressed out, you’re more than happy to hear them out, give them a chance to vent, and maybe work together toward some constructive solutions.

Find Constructive Solutions for Stress

As for what those solutions might look like, it can vary from employee to employee and from team to team.

Certainly, having a workplace culture in which people take breaks is essential. Set an example by making time for your own regular coffee breaks, and leave the office from time to time for a short walk. Encourage team members to do likewise. You might even take the step of bringing in an expert to demonstrate some breathing exercises or meditation techniques.

A final recommendation I’d make: Give your team members a sense of belonging. Let them feel like they are essential to your organization, and that what they do matters toward the ultimate goal. Helping them feel important can help them feel more secure, so be open about what the big-picture vision for your company is—and how each team member plays a role in it.

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