Employee burnout is dangerous and can lead to a high rate of employee turnover. Not only is this process time-consuming and expensive, but burnout drains the efficiency of your office and sabotages workplace culture. It’s inevitable that at one point or another your employees will experience burnout in the workplace. Schedules only get busier, demands get exhausting, and workloads become overwhelming.
Heidi Hanna, Ph.D., executive director of the American Institute of Stress, defines burnout as "the physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress." Burnout is not a hypothetical state, and it affects an individual’s physical and mental health. It’s incredible that any of us make it out alive, because—you guessed it—one of the most common sources of stress in adults is work. Research has found that the main reasons for occupational stress are caused by interpersonal relationships and the amount of work.
The good news is that your office can create a burnout-free environment.
What Can You Do?
To create a burnout-free workplace, it is in your company’s best interest to help improve relationships within your company and focus on a healthy workload. The following ideas are rooted in these two main areas of improvement. Your office can start now to better your workplace and help reduce employee burnout.
1- Be realistic with assigning tasks & don’t be afraid to delegate
The last thing you want is your employees to be overwhelmed with the mountain of work piling up on their desks, driving them farther and farther away from any desire to complete it. Communicate with your employees frequently about their workload and make sure they aren’t becoming overwhelmed by the amount they are being assigned. On the flip side, be sure your employees aren’t being assigned too little. Lack of work leads to feeling like they are under-appreciated or uninvolved. Too few tasks also lead to boredom and may encourage your employees to seek more opportunity elsewhere. To find the perfect balance of workload and tasks, frequently check in with your employees to gauge their performance and level of output.
To learn more about inter-office communication and daily check-ins with your employees, read our blog post titled ”Winning with Communication: 4 Ways to Improve Office Communication.”
2- Allow for side projects
Let employees work on a side project they feel passionate about. This harnesses creativity and gives the employees a chance to take a break from regular duties. It shows you value their ideas and what they contribute to the company. By doing this, you are also creating an opportunity to understand your employees’ personal goals and capabilities better. Through proper communication and observance, you can help play a part in their personal development. Tap into their skills and strengths you may be unaware of. Your employees are assets to your company, and it's important to invest in them.
3- Enforce reasonable work hours
Help your employees maintain a proper work-life balance by keeping work hours reasonable. When employees feel overworked, burnout will only occur at a quicker rate. Make sure they are getting necessary time off, even if you have to encourage them. Frequently, employees form habits where they work more than they should. Hardworking employees form these habits as a means of motivation. It's not uncommon for the same habits that helped them to later harm them as they cause overworked staff and burnout. Monitor the hours and days per week your employees are working to make sure it is a proper amount.
4- Clarify your employees’ specific roles
Be sure each team member has a specific job description and the role they have. By reviewing these frequently and being sure your employees are aware of their tasks, it will help increase not only their contributions but also enhance their feeling of value and understanding. Set expectations, but be flexible in your means. Understand that not every employee is the same, and one size does not fit all for your methods and descriptions. Allow for growth and freedom. Opportunities to advance within the workplace help increase feelings of fulfillment and job satisfaction. Take the time to listen to your employees and gauge how they are handling their roles and tasks. You can assess what more they need added or taken from their plate.
5- Encourage socialization during scheduled breaks
With interpersonal relationships ranking as one of the top contributors for occupational stress, socialization should be an integral part of your office. One way to do this that helps with lessening burnout is by including scheduled breaks. Let your employees know how important it is to take breaks. It helps boost productivity and reduce stress. Taking a step away from tasks, whether they be routine or challenging, will often help increase creativity, encourage problem-solving, and help curate new solutions. Overall, employees’ energy will be refreshed when given the opportunity to socialize and take breaks regularly.
6- Reward your team
Employees are humans, and they have lives outside of the workplace. Doing things that take a break from the stress of the workplace can help keep your team productive and engaged. This could include bonuses, catered lunches, vacations, special events, or other incentives. Keep in mind that as rewarding as physical bonuses and incentives are, you can also reward your team with appreciation and acknowledgment. All employees should be acknowledged for their contributions and should feel valued. Be sure to recognize the achievement of your employees as well as their hard work.
7- Educate employees on burnout
Teach them how they can prevent burnout or what resources your office has if they start to experience burnout. As of 2017, researchers found via a survey that only 23 percent of employees reported that their company provided burnout prevention programs. Either their employer didn’t offer such resources as they should, or the employees just weren’t educated that such programs were available. Along with these programs, just learning how to recognize the signs of burnout in general help make it possible to identify when a team member may be at risk.
8- Share responsibility to avoid burnout
Your team may be able to identify the possible symptoms of burnout, but that will do no good unless they are encouraged to act. Help empower your employees to take part in this prevention. Enforce the policy “if you see something, say something.” That way fellow employees are aware and alert when they observe a co-worker who might be experiencing burnout. Encourage everyone to participate and be mindful of each other. This type of awareness stems from a team atmosphere of support and encouragement. Your office will not only greatly benefit from having decreased burnout, but from an environment that flourishes with consideration and interest in each other's well-being.
Working in a medical office is usually stressful. Use these eight steps to help manage the stress levels and keep your clinic operating at peak performance. Did we miss any ways to reduce burnout or have any other ideas you like to share? Comment below, and let us know how your office is protecting itself from employee burnout.