Employee Well-Being

The complete guide to understanding employee burnout and promoting well-being.

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Overview of Employee Well-Being

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Employee burnout is a considerable problem among United States employers, with approximately 50 percent of workers claiming to be overwhelmed or unsatisfied with their job. Moreover, research suggests that stress in the workplace costs U.S. employers anywhere from $150 billion to $300 billion annually. How do organization’s tackle an issue like burnout? Understanding the origins, symptoms, and effects of employee burnout will help to create a successful wellness plan.

Employee well-being can be the answer to problems such as low productivity and high turnover rates. By adding the Employee Well-Being Index to your wellness program, your employees will be able to anonymously self-assess their level of burnout, and receive custom resources specific to their results. Your organization will have access to aggregated reports of where well-being stands in order to adapt your wellness plan to areas of need. Learn more about crucial elements of employee well-being below.

Causes of Employee Burnout

Job scope creep

Comparing the original job description to the responsibilities an employee has a year later can help to realign everyday duties. If an employee was hired for their specialty but is being bogged down by administrative tasks, burnout could settle in.

 

Poor job fit

Sometimes an employee is simply assigned to an ill-fitted position. If the job is not within the employee's interests or skills, it can cause tension in workplace dynamics. Finding a suitable job for the employee can help to avoid turnover and increase productivity.

 

Lack of engagement

If employees feel disengaged with their work, burnout can easily follow. An employee can start to feel disengaged for a variety of reasons, such as their values aren’t aligned with the company’s or they’re not feeling appreciated.

 

Long hours and stress

Longer hours are not translating to higher productivity. In professions where long shifts are necessary, institutions should seriously consider more flexible schedules, telecommuting, or other alternatives. Inadequate personal time will burn your employees out quickly.

 

Limited upward mobility

If employees see no opportunities for growth in the company, they may opt for a different job or profession completely. Offering promotions or continued education opportunities can help your employees see a future at your organization.

 

Poor management

Pay close attention to individuals in management positions if you notice employees becoming burned out. Ineffective management styles may be the reason for your employees being unproductive.

 

No communication channels

When there are no clear channels of communication between the frontline employees and the higher-ups, employees can become discouraged. Decisions that affect your employees could be made by executives who never hear feedback from their underlings.

 

Lack of control

Feeling an inability to control your schedule, assignments or workload can cause burnout at a job. A lack of the necessary resources to perform the job can also easily result in employee burnout.

Symptoms of Employee Burnout

Being aware of the symptoms of employee burnout is crucial to addressing the issue. In doing so, it’s helpful to first understand the conditions in which employees might start showing signs of burnout. These conditions may include employees:

  • Expecting too much of themselves
  • Not receiving affirmation for their work
  • Feeling inadequate or incompetent
  • Having unreasonable demands put upon them
  • Being in a role that’s not a good fit

If you’re seeing any of the listed situations unfolding at your organization, they should be addressed before the following symptoms of employee burnout reveal themselves.

exhaustExhaustion

Exhaustion, or fatigue, is a burnout symptom that can be seen and heard. If your employees are constantly complaining about being exhausted, they could be experiencing burnout. Long-term side effects of exhaustion can include hallucinations, mistakes being made, and even physical pain. Hearing employees grumble about being exhausted is a sign to address burnout before it advances.

mistakesMistakes

The inability to pay attention or remember important details can be a symptom of employee burnout. Whether mistakes are being made due to fatigue, or another stressor, they should be addressed to avoid any more serious inaccuracies. Make sure to take a supportive approach to this issue. Reprimanding employees for mistakes due to burnout will not help the root of the issue.

sicknessSickness

When energy levels are depleted, an individual will be more susceptible to sickness. Many times, a burned out individual won’t have the time or energy to prepare balanced meals. The lack of essential nutrients will leave the body more vulnerable to illness. Pay attention to how many sick days employees are taking as to detect burnout from work.

depressionDepression

Employee burnout often leads to depression, which can manifest in the workplace as a lack of confidence, acting withdrawn, and excessive worry about deadlines. Signs of fatigue are also frequently seen when an individual is suffering from depression. Facilitating a safe and inviting space for employees to express their needs is crucial to handle this very serious symptom of employee burnout.

iritatedIrritability

Feelings of being ineffective, unimportant, or decreased efficiency can result in an individual feeling irritable in the workplace. Sometimes personalities simply clash; however, if you notice an employee not getting along with anyone, it could be a symptom of burnout. If left unaddressed, irritability can lead to ruined relationships and careers.

cynicalCynicism

A cynical attitude is often a sign of employee burnout and suggests an employee’s passion for their work has exhausted. Cynicism can bring productivity down significantly, so be on the lookout for unhappy or unenthusiastic employees.

alcholoAlcohol or substance abuse

Self-medication may seem like a viable option for an employee who dislikes their work or feels no control over their own schedule or assignments. This can obviously be a detrimental situation if not addressed sooner than later. If you detect signs of alcohol or substance abuse in an employee, approaching the situation with the utmost sensitivity is imperative.

The Impact of Employee Burnout

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A recent study conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace found employee burnout could be responsible for 50 percent of turnover.

The impact of job burnout on an individual can come to fruition at different degrees. While it’s difficult to measure a concept like burnout, one thing is for certain: when burnout is affecting an employee, it’s affecting the organization.

 

Low productivity

If employees are feeling cynical towards their work, productivity will suffer immensely. Once an employee’s productivity starts to take a turn, so will the overall operations of the business. Low productivity will eventually hurt the business’ finances and reputation.

 

Sick leave

In the same arena as low productivity, employers can expect to pay out more sick time leave when employees are burned out. Employees experiencing burnout tend to succumb to illness more often than their well-rested coworkers.

 

High turnover rates

A recent study conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace found employee burnout could be responsible for 50 percent of turnover. There is a major dilemma that organizations need to address to retain talent and move business forward.

Employee burnout certainly affects staff turnover rates on a major level. Heavy and ungratifying workloads can cause employee dissatisfaction and emotional exhaustion in the individual. Once these symptoms reach a level specific to that employee, they will decide to find a different line of work. Sometimes, symptoms of burnout can lead the employer to believe that they need to replace the employee, instead of finding the root of the problem.

Oftentimes employee burnout results in high turnover rates due to of out-of-touch executives. If the higher-ups are unfamiliar with the environment or culture their employees are working in, low productivity could provoke executives to replace employees. With job turnover rates on the rise, employers should be taking every step to keep their talent satisfied.

One way the Employee Well-Being Index helps organizations fight employee burnout is by aggregating custom reports to monitor well-being over time. Organizations are also able to compare their results on a national level. These reports help wellness programs adapt to the specific needs of the institution, resulting in happier and more productive employees.

How to Improve Employee Well-Being

Creating a comfortable work environment

Decluttering the workspace or adding indoor plants are helpful ways to create a more calming environment. Clutter generally lowers productivity and raises stress levels. Adding indoor plants can improve the air quality inside your working environment.

Introducing mindfulness

This simple form of meditation encourages an individual to focus on the moment at hand. Aetna tried this and saved the company $2,000 per employee in medical costs.

 

Realizing the importance of work-life balance

Flexible work schedules or allowing for more vacation time can make a significant improvement in employees’ happiness. Organizing a social event can help employees build comradery outside of work, improving the overall work-life culture.

 

Supporting social outreach programs

Getting involved in a community outreach program can help your employees to build trust and a better sense of teamwork. Plus, you’ll be able to connect with the local community for a good cause. It’s a win-win!

 

Encouraging staff to cycle to work

Walking or cycling to work has proven to make individuals happier than “inactive” commuters (car, public transportation). Promoting an active commute can make your employees happier and healthier.

 

Assessing burnout and stress

Knowing where you stand in terms of burnout levels is essential to taking next steps. Employees who self-assess are more likely to be motivated to improve their well-being. The Employee Well-Being Index provides custom resources and promotes wellness over time.

The Importance of Employee Well-Being

Encouraging staff members to continually assess their well-being will give them a chance to see their wellness progress. Visiting the doctor and dentist routinely is beneficial for our physical health, and we should think the same way about our mental health. By assessing their well-being regularly, your employees have a better chance of:

  • Reducing the risk of professional burnout
  • Improving long-term health
  • Successfully managing mental and emotional health
  • Reducing the risk of illness
  • Continually checking in with their well-being

The insights that are gathered using the Well-Being Index are imperative to understanding employee well-being. As you routinely self-assess, you will be able to see different times of the year in which you seem to be more stressed or your health condition around the time of a major life event. The key to implementing long-lasting habits is being able to see where you began, along with your progressions and regressions.

 


 

Adopting the Employee Well-Being Index into your wellness program can help turn low productivity around, decrease turnover rates, retain talent, and yield happier and healthier employees. Curious to see how it works? Here’s your access to the free Well-Being Index demo!

Explore the Well-Being Index Demo

Join the hundreds of organizations using the Well-Being Index to assess and monitor the well-being of their organization. Invented by the Mayo Clinic, the Well-Being Index:

  • Anonymously assesses multiple dimensions of distress in just 7-9 questions. 
  • Allows participants to compare their well-being to their peers based on national averages.
  • Provides resources and education on a wide variety of topics designed to aid in reducing burnout. 
  • Includes the ability to track wellness over time.

The Well-Being Index is available in multiple plans to ensure organizations of all sizes can utilize the tool.  

Access the Well-Being Index Demo