The performance of a company depends on the individual performances of its workers. No matter how good, hardworking, efficient, and productive the workers are, they’re all just humans. Over time, workers feel exhausted both mentally and physically, resulting in burnout. This burnout hampers their performance and lowers the company’s overall performance.
Burnouts affect different people in different manners. For some people, workplace burnout literally feels like they’re dying. The sensation is physical – they don’t have any energy, they can’t breathe, their head is spinning, and they can't focus on anything. For others, the feeling is like a cold that they cannot shift or a persistent nagging feeling that they’re not well.
The topic of what causes workplace burnout and what measures you can take to reduce it is definitely worth discussing, given the fact that around 75% of full-time workers deal with burnouts at some point in time while at work. Let’s discuss workplace burnout, its causes and effects on both the company and individuals, and how automation can help minimize it.
The Sting of Workplace Burnout on Business Success
From performance quotas and deadlines to restructuring and budget cuts, the workplace can be incredibly hectic and stressful. At the right level, stress might not really be considered such a bad thing. In fact, it may actually challenge and motivate your team, inspire creativity, and enhance productivity.
But, when the pressure for a worker to meet expectations, perform, or face uncertainties becomes overwhelming, the organizational, physical, and emotional consequences can be highly troubling and get in the way of achieving success.
The effects of excessive stress for too long can result in burnout, which is an emotional, physical, and mental state of exhausting that can leave workers feeling:
Workers suffering from burnout or excessive stress might feel disconnected from everybody and everything around them, fully drained of energy. They might also experience immense strain on a professional and personal level.
Unhealthy stress and resulting workplace burnout can take a serious toll on practically every aspect of your team’s performance. The indirect and direct costs to your group and organization as a whole can include:
A significant body of research reveals a positive correlation between a worker’s health and wellbeing and their efficiency at work. A study performed by the UK government demonstrates that positive worker wellbeing results in improved productivity , performance, and work quality, which ultimately increases revenue.
The high levels of anxiety related to too much stress and the apathy and exhaustion that follow with burnout are bound to clog up workflows, causing employees to miss their quotas, deadlines, or complete tasks at a far too low rate.
Put merely, a well-rested and healthy worker is more likely to deliver high-quality productivity compared to one who’s struggling with a demanding workload. This, being a sign of burnout, is bound to kill a company’s productivity and revenue growth. So, if a company is committed to its success, it should invest in the happiness and wellbeing of its employees.
Lower Quality Work
It isn’t surprising that when workers are over-stressed with work, they might naturally have trouble focusing on the tasks at hand. Consequently, they tend to make more mistakes or take less interest and pride in their work.
Workers who have unhealthy stress levels might eventually become more disorganized and manage their time less effectively. When other members of the team are interdependent on the stressed-out worker, it could potentially and negatively affect the entire team’s efficiency.
Workers suffering from burnout usually focus their attention and time away from their job. They might spend excessive work time on their hobbies or personal activities like conversing with non-work friends on the phone or online shopping.
Individuals with burnout mostly tend to be more cynical, pessimistic, disagreeable, impatient, and less social, in general. They might nag or complain a lot or make it noticeable to everybody around them that they aren’t satisfied with their job.
Quite evidently, this can seriously affect the overall team and office environment. If somebody is too stressed-out and is in a position where they have to deal with customers directly, they are liable to cause a lot more damage and adversely reflect on the company as a whole.
Unhealthy stress is associated with several physical and mental health concerns. These include the following:
- Eating Disorders
- Insomnia and other sleep disorders
- Digestive problems
- Migraine headaches
- Substance abuse
- Eczema and other skin conditions or allergies
- Autoimmune diseases
Stress can also trigger and worsen several pre-existing health problems, including several types of heart disease and chronic pain.
People who suffer from workplace burnout will more frequently call in sick or take personal days off.
Presenteeism, which is absenteeism’s cousin, describes employees at work in the body but not really in mind or spirit. They usually leave the office early, arrive late, or take frequent breaks throughout the entire day. Moreover, they typically aren’t very productive nor function at a high level.
When work stress becomes devastating, many workers decide that the best way to flee is to leave the organization. This harms the team and entire office through a significant loss of talent, the high costs of training replacement workers, and an overall negative impact on worker morale.
Too much stress in the workplace can virtually hurt all aspects of team performance and bonding. As a result, you must monitor your group carefully and watch for early signs of such conditions.
Identifying and alleviating on-the-job stress for easy tips and tactics to avoid stressful situations before they occur and reducing the impact when it seeps deep into the team’s psyche can be the key to a successful business.
Even though it can be a massive challenge to any group, when managed effectively and quickly, you can minimize the negative reach of stress and probably even harness its powerful energy to motivate a more effective, stronger team.
Causes of Workplace Burnout
Workplace burnout can happen within any organization. There are several common causes of workplace burnout. We all are aware of workers with a towering stack of papers on their desks, a never-ending to-do list that spans more than 100 tasks, and a worried look on their faces.
An overpowering workload is the most significant factor contributing to workplace burnout, resulting in too much stress. Workplace stress is mainly caused by ineffective leadership and faulty organizational practices.
A Harvard Business Review article cites that too much workload and poor management are the most common culprits behind workplace burnout. Long hours and intolerable demands from superiors also add to job-related stress.
This, combined with a discrepancy in personality to tasks, conflicting job demands, uneven workload, lack of correct resources, role ambiguity, and management support, is a recipe for destruction. Of course, some personality factors also come into play. Burnout is relatively higher among the high achievers or individuals interested in their work.
Even though there is a combination of reasons for burnout, many are directly related to the employee's role within the company. Managers must avoid overwhelming their workers with responsibilities that go above and beyond the scope of what companies hired them for. Another cause of employee burnout is not giving clear expectations to each worker.
If workers are unsure of their place in the organization, workplace burnout will likely occur. Each worker must have an assigned role with set responsibilities that aren’t open to interpretation. Problems with colleagues and managers are another common reason for burnout.
For example, if one worker is deemed the office bully, co-workers might feel burned out and stressed from continuously dealing with negative personalities. Micromanaging or ineffective bosses also significantly contribute to the worker and workplace burnout.
The Mayo Clinic states that personal issues can also be the primary cause of burnout. For example, the worker might be socially distanced and not have anybody’s back out of work to rely on. The worker might also not be prioritizing work/life balance.
How Employee Burnout Affects the Overall Company Performance
You may think that burnout is a personal issue. However, it isn’t. As already explained, the causes initiate from the workplace, and it significantly impacts the company’s performance on a broad scale. Here’s how:
- Burnouts in the workplace lead to dissatisfaction among the workers. As more and more workers switch between jobs, there will be an escalation in your employee turnover rate.
- Worker burnout decreases your team and company’s morale. Because as long as the workers are mentally well, what companies get is better performance and productivity, increased revenues, and enhanced work quality.
- Burnouts result in disengaged and disinterested workers. They do not work hard, do not commit to your business’s goals, exert less effort, and don’t value the company's success.
- With the performance of your firm’s products and services affected, there will be more uncompleted projects. This hampers revenue generation.
- Burnouts make the workers underperform. They make more mistakes, miss deadlines, have less creativity, and affect product quality.
- With dissatisfied workers, customer services are bound to be affected. With a decrease in customer satisfaction, there will be more negative reviews. This will ultimately affect your business.
- With a rise in employee turnover rate, more money and time will be spent hiring and training new workers. This won’t only increase your costs but also prolong the projects' completion.
Signs of Burnout to Look Out For
Of course, no organization wants to lose its most talented workers to workplace burnout. However, most people don’t know that their employee is burned-out until too late. Most employees who experience workplace burnout will likely remain at work. Being aware of changes in energy and attitude can help with identification at an early stage.
There are tons of frameworks that have been used to define burnout. A study produced by the Physician Leadership Journal published by Massey University declares that workplace burnout is developed upon a foundation of hindrance, withdrawal, fatigue, and frustration. These elements can develop parallel, in series, or even out of sequence.
The course taken by individual workers may be based on coping factors, personality traits, use and availability of a support system, and recognition of the burnout stages. When these behaviors come from a worker who’s usually on their A-game, they may be signs of workplace burnout.
How to Prevent Workplace Burnout
Whatever plan you use to prevent burnout should be adaptable based on a worker’s needs. Consider a range of strategies and several solutions. Some ideas might work better than others.
Still, it is vital to be proactive and try something rather than simply expecting a worker will develop their own coping mechanisms. Here are a few things that'll help you understand how to prevent burnout in the workplace :
- Train managers to recognize the signs of workplace burnout and have a plan to assess worker situations and address any underlying issues.
- Evaluate workloads related to specific positions and teams to make sure they’re realistic and evaluate workers to see if they have the support and skills required to succeed.
- Adopt telecommuting, flexible scheduling, and paid time off policies that can help offer a more productive work/life balance where possible.
- Invest in employee recognition and engagement, using tools like bonus programs, engagement monitoring, employee awards, and setting the minimum cost of living adjustments.
- Invest in training around areas like conflict resolution, stress management, and emotional intelligence to give your workforce the tools to manage general life and workplace-related stress more effectively.
- Add an employee aid program to your benefits package to give access to support across a vast array of areas that might be causing stress.
- Create policies that set expectations around workers checking mail, completing work, or being always available outside the set hours needed to perform their jobs.
- Automate the repetitive and mundane tasks to relieve the workers from monotonous tasks and divert their focus towards more high-value tasks.
The best way to prevent burnout is to design a work environment where workers are engaged and challenged instead of overwhelmed. Give your workers as much control over their workload as possible and involve them in the objective-setting process.
Encouraging work/life balance rather than expecting a 24-hour availability can permit workers to prosper and stay engaged while on the job.
How Automation Reduces Employee Burnout
Automation refers to the application and development of technologies to create and deliver goods and services with very little human intervention. Besides the repetitive and mundane tasks, there are several other processes to automate that will minimize the burden of your workers.
Now, let’s look at some of the ways automation can minimize employee and workplace burnout.
Reduces Repetitive and Mundane Tasks
Mundane and repetitive tasks bore workers easily. It might become one of the most reasonable causes of workplace burnout if done regularly in the long run.
Processes such as data entry and reading, contracts, document creation, report filing, sales quoting, invoice creation can be automated with artificial intelligence (AI) tools.
Quite evidently, there will be some form of human interaction needed. However, it would be minimal, and your workers won’t see those tasks as burdensome.
Improve Customer Services
Almost every business needs customers, irrespective of the industry. With automation, it becomes relatively easy to provide your customer services 24/7.
AI chatbots help with customer interaction when they have common problems, to answer the most frequently asked questions (FAQs), feedback for e-commerce stores, personalization, autoresponders - these are a few ways you can automate your customer services.
This won’t just minimize your workers’ workload but also make your customer service more efficient.
Improve HR Processes
HR processes such as recruitment, hiring, onboarding, performance reviews, payments, compensation, and benefits should be automated. This ensures that your workers get all their bonuses, benefits, and payments on time. Your workers will be motivated and satisfied enough to give less room for workplace burnout with responsive HR processes.
Thus, HR is your main department. Automate HR processes such as filling and sending contracts, CV reviews, task assignments, signing contracts with e-signatures, leave approval, etc., to minimize HR workload.
When customer services, repetitive tasks, and other routine tasks are automated, your workers will be less stressed. With a lesser workload, they will be able to focus more on high-value and creative tasks. This will also give your workers more free time to relax. With better physical and mental health, their performances will also improve.
Besides taking the workload, AI tools tailor the work experience. As a result, specific processes such as forecasting, sales quoting, pricing update, product catalog creation, lead distribution, proposal creation, sourcing, procurement, and many other operations must be automated.
The introduction of CRM, CPQ, Procurement software and their integrations eliminates a significant amount of the manual work in these areas.
Increase Workflow Organization
Without the proper organization of files and documents, workers cant proceed with essential tasks that lead to stress, frustration, and ultimately workplace burnout. Automated workflow can help managers boost management activities such as meeting timings, agendas, task allocation, communication, regular and monitoring businesses, and data management.
Besides these, AI can enhance your workers’ mental health. AI-enabled wearable tech with emotion recognition and stress sensors monitors workers’ emotions and behavior to identify mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.
AI tools embedded with speech recognition keep track of workers' stress levels. Such AI tools suggest to the workers at what time they should take the break. There are therapeutic AI chatbots to help with mental problems resulting from burnout.
Now you know that workplace burnout is one of the most significant challenges businesses face today. It’s an occupational phenomenon that leads to several physical and mental health issues if left unchecked.
Burnout can be caused due to stress, work pressure, unfair treatment at the workplace, unrealistic deadlines, repetitive work, toxic managers, micromanagement, lack of appreciation, and lack of bonuses and rewards.
High employee turnover, decreased morale, incomplete projects, disinterested workers, high expenses, decreased revenue generation, and bad revenues by customers are just a few consequences of workplace burnout. To reduce workplace burnout, you can bring in automation and sort out the workloads, minimize micromanagement, and value employees' personal lives.
Moreover, automation truly helps minimize workplace burnout by releasing employees from some other monotonous and routine tasks. As a result, companies must focus on integrating robotics and automation within their existing operations.