Burnt Out


As inflation continues to rise, managers are starting to face an additional workforce challenge to the tight labor market.  Employees are routinely being asked to do more with less, leading to increased burnout.  In response, many young workers have started a movement of  “quiet quitting” – that is, doing the bare minimum of their job description and refusing to go above and beyond.  But managers have the ability to prevent burnout by…

First, understanding what is actually meant by employee burnout.  It isn’t an excuse to not work or a problem that affects only a few workers.  In fact, 76% of employees experience burnout on the job at least sometimes, according to Gallup.  Employee burnout is so common that the World Health Organization actually has defined it as an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress leading to energy depletion, negative feelings about one’s work, and reduced efficiency.  Employee burnout is a global issue that affects all workplaces.

Burnout is also an issue with real and serious outcomes.  Employees who experience burnout are 2.6 times as likely to actively be seeking another job and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.  The impacts of burnout on employees’ health and wellbeing simply can’t be ignored.

Employees tend to feel burnt out when they receive unfair treatment at work and unmanageable workloads.  For many managers, the inability to hire workers due to the lack of workers and increasing wages has lead to asking existing workers to do more.  When an employee sees new hires starting at higher wages or receiving sign-on bonuses, but is not recognized financially for their commitment, it is easy to see why they may feel treatment isn’t fair.  The same issue arises when workloads increase as positions go unfilled.  Employees who strongly agree they are treated unfairly are 2.3 times more likely to experience a high level of burnout.

So what can managers do to reduce employee burnout when every business feels pressure to perform at a higher level?  For one, simply making time to listen to employees’ work-related problems honestly.  Too many managers are dismissive of their employees’ concerns about the ability to perform work, often because managers are under their own unreasonable demands and don’t prioritize team check-ins regularly.  The problem is that employees suffer burnout when they feel workplace stress and they don’t believe it will get better.  A sympathetic manager who listens will help employees understand that there is hope for the current situation, which can curb burnout dramatically.

Managers must focus on the purpose of the organization.  Work itself is never worth an extraordinary effort from employees, but a mission to help and enhance the lives of customers in some meaningful way gives a reason to go above and beyond.  Employees who know how their unique contribution improve someone’s business or life do not “quiet quit” – they continue to strive to help more people.  Managers must tell more stories about the difference that their team members are making to renew their energy on the job.

Now more than ever, managers must commit to proactively seeking to fight burnout in their workplace.  The ability for a team to effectively perform, retain talent, and protect the physical and emotional wellbeing of each member is dependent on managerial actions.  And in today’s difficult business environment, managers need to rise to the challenge.

Tags: Burnout , Inflation , Quiet Quitting ,