Everyone experiences some level of frustration, with high levels over time eventually leading to burnout. According to the American Psychological Association (2022), burnout is positively connected to decreased work efforts, exhaustion, and the inability to focus. Some work environments can be high-pressure, fast-paced and extremely stressful, resulting in mental health issues.
One the other hand, some workers don’t ever realize they are stressed until they are pushed beyond their capacity to function and produce. A person generally develops burnout if they have felt a lack of support or concern for their well-being. Simply put, it is long-term exposure to environmental and internal stressors and lack of coping skills, which result in emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. This exhaustion cultivates feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness and then they jump into impulsive decision making that may have devastating effects.
Signs of burnout are not apparent, readily detected and can come layered in borderline normal behaviors that do not necessarily signal a red flag.
Symptoms of burnout may include:
- Cynicism due to not owning feelings of being overwhelmed or tired
- Decreased work standards
- Less desirable working conditions that counter their values and beliefs
- Noticeable behavioral changes unknowingly related to work
- Sudden fatigue or recurring headaches
To battle these pitfalls, leaders should prioritize consistent employee communication that includes feedback, while also scheduling regular one-on-one meetings to monitor the mental health of their employee. Proactive communication with existing workforce can also help mitigate burnout and get ahead of concerns before they spiral out of control. In addition, proctoring surveys can identify trends and help leaders pinpoint burnt-out employees before they are able to admit it.
Encourage employees to take vacation time without fear of returning to a pile of untouched work. It is equally important to cross-train other employees to assist with the work that only one person was hired for. That will help reduce any anxiety around taking a real break to reset and focus on their mental and physical health.
To keep existing talent in place, it is extremely important for leaders to be upfront about a viable career path with steps that lead to promotion. This will help prevent the employee from feeling trapped when seeking more responsibilities. Also, offer professional development opportunities to fill skill gaps and finally, be intentional about employee engagement efforts and ask for critical feedback.
Burnout and stress are at all-time highs across various professions. Every employee will warrant a unique approach in acknowledging levels of stress that are apparent to prevent burnout. Therefore, performing regular check-ins will counter or minimize mental and physical health challenges provoked by the lack of support. Cultivating a work environment that promotes employee engagement will encourage those to stop suffering in silence.