Recognizing Burnout: How to Know When You’re Stretching Your Employees Too Thin

Sometimes business gets crazy and you need to ask more from your workers than you usually do. This may be the result of a busy season, budget cuts or staff shortages.

In the short term, this can be a chance for your team to rise to the occasion. However, over a longer period, overwhelming workloads can lead to disengagement and burnout.

So, how can you tell when you’re asking too much of your employees?

Changes in Behavior
Obviously, worn-out workers are more likely to be negative and grumpy, but look for more subtle changes too. Is someone who usually remains calm under pressure uncharacteristically anxious? Are your most outgoing employees suddenly withdrawn? Is your once happy-go-lucky team bickering about everything? Any of these behaviors can indicate you have overextended your workforce.

An Increase in Health Issues
Mental stress often turns into physical symptoms. Employees may complain about tense muscles, stomach aches, headaches, and insomnia. Since stress weakens the immune system, you might notice more colds, flus and sick days as well as the onset of more serious illnesses including depression and heart disease.

Bottlenecks
Your workers used to be on top of their game. Now, they are constantly missing deadlines while others to have to wait around for unfinished work. Pay attention to bottlenecks. Not only can they signal your employees have more tasks than they can handle, but, they can quickly cost your company time and money.

Higher Turnover Rates
Eventually, unhappy workers will start exploring other options. What begins as the departure of one or two employees might turn into a domino effect. Some level of turnover is normal, but if your rates change unexpectedly, burnout could be to blame.

Lower Productivity
Although your employees are busier than ever, they may be getting less done. Exhaustion and stress cause people to work less efficiently even when they are putting in longer hours. This, in turn, creates a vicious downward cycle. As with bottlenecks, you want to catch productively problems sooner rather than later.

How Can You Fight Burnout?

Unfortunately, the answer is neither simple nor straightforward. Begin by talking to your workers. Find out what is making their lives most difficult. Their answers may be what you expect, or they may surprise you. Next, begin implementing solutions even if they are minor. Some things may take a few weeks to remedy; others may take years. Nevertheless, let your employees know you recognize their struggles and are trying to improve their working conditions. Finally, encourage everyone to take some time away from the job to reduce exhaustion and improve productivity. This might include extra days off, email curfews and/or mandatory breaks during the day.

Are You Looking for Cost-Effective Solutions to Tackle Burnout?

If your employees have more to do than they can reasonably manage, temporary workers may be a smart option. At Halpin Staffing, our reliable temps can cover variable workloads and extended leaves of absence in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the surrounding areas. Learn more about solving your staffing shortages today!

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