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Responding to workplace burnout: A guide for leaders
Dr Richard Dune
As managers and business leaders, how do you support employees when they feel burnt out? Can you identify the signs of burnout in the workplace? Do you have structures in place to deal with workplace burnout? Where to look for guidance and tools to deal with workplace burnout?
In this article, Dr Richard Dune guides managers and leaders on how to respond to employee burnout.
Dealing with employee burnout
Burnout has become an increasingly common problem in today's workplaces, putting employees' well-being and organisational performance at risk. As a manager or entrepreneur, it's essential to recognise the signs of burnout and respond in a supportive and constructive way when an employee reports it.
In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, Noemie Le Pertel provided some practical tips for responding when an employee tells you they're burned out. In this blog, we'll go through those tips and provide additional recommendations for preventing and addressing burnout in the workplace.
Listen actively and empathetically
When an employee tells you they are burned out, scheduling a one-on-one meeting and setting aside dedicated time to listen to them is vital. It's crucial to let them fully express their thoughts without interrupting and to practice active listening by repeating what you've heard and asking for clarification when needed.
Show empathy by validating their feelings and letting them know you care about their well-being.
Identify the root causes
Understanding what's causing employee burnout is necessary to address the issue effectively. Ask open-ended questions about their stressors and other factors contributing to their burnout. Some common root causes include high workload, insufficient resources or support, lack of autonomy or control, and feeling undervalued or under-compensated. Use this information to tailor solutions and address the underlying issues.
Develop a plan to support employee well-being
Once you've gathered information about the causes of employee burnout, it's time to develop a plan to support them. Some short-term strategies include flexible scheduling, providing resources or support, and giving extra time off. Long-term strategies can include regular check-ins, problem-solving and feedback sessions, career development opportunities, stress management training, and wellness initiatives. Ensure the plan is sustainable and feasible, and monitor the employee's burnout.
As a manager, you can take proactive measures to prevent burnout in the workplace. Encourage breaks and prioritise work-life balance. Offer support and resources, such as mentoring and training programs, to help employees manage their workload better. Provide feedback and recognition to employees to feel valued and motivated.
Key points to remember
Here are the key points to remember from this article:
- Listen actively and empathetically, and make them feel heard, understood, and valued.
- Identifying the root cause of burnout is necessary to develop a tailored support plan.
- Prioritise employee well-being and prevent burnout proactively with feedback and recognition, appropriate workload management, and mentorship opportunities.
It is vital to foster a culture of recognition and appreciation while prioritising communication transparency to help manage employee expectations. Consider the following:
- Schedule regular check-ins to track employee burnout and provide regular feedback and support.
- Encourage work-life balance and offer resources such as mentoring or training programs to help manage workload better.
Burnout can harm an employee's well-being, the team's morale, and the organisation's performance. It's imperative to take proactive measures to prevent burnout and support employees to avoid experiencing it.
As a manager or entrepreneur, listening actively and empathetically, identifying the root causes of burnout, and developing feasible support plans can ensure a healthy work environment with engaged employees who deliver and thrive.
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References and resources
Employee benefits (2021) - 79% of UK staff have gone through burnout.
HR News (2022) - 88% of the UK workforce has experienced burnout in the past two years.
MicoBiz Mag (2023) - Burnout statistics UK - Occupational work burnout.
Neuroworx (2022) - 10 UK employee stress and burnout statistics.
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